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These artifacts have gone through many carbon-14 half-lives and the amount of carbon-14 remaining in them is miniscule and very difficult to detect.Carbon dating cannot be used on most fossils, not only because they are almost always too old, but also because they rarely contain the original carbon of the organism.Scientists now realize that production of carbon-14 has not been constant over the last 10,000 years, but has changed as the radiation from the sun has changed.

These isotopes have longer half-lives and so are found in greater abundance in older fossils.

Nuclear tests, nuclear reactors and the use of nuclear weapons have also changed the composition of radioisotopes in the air over the last few decades.

This human nuclear activity will make precise dating of fossils from our lifetime very difficult due to contamination of the normal radioisotope composition of the earth with addition artificially produced radioactive atoms.

However, the carbon-14 already in the organism's body continues to decay at a constant rate.

Therefore, the amount of carbon-14 in an artifact decreases at a predictable rate while the amount of carbon-12 remains constant.

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