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Comparing the old wood with modern samples, he showed that the fossil carbon could be detected in the modern atmosphere.(5) Through the 1950s and beyond, carbon-14 workers published detailed tables of dates painstakingly derived from samples of a wondrous variety of materials, including charcoal, peat, clamshells, antlers, pine cones, and the stomach contents of an extinct Moa found buried in New Zealand.(6) The measurements were correlated with materials of known dates, such as a well-documented mummy or a log from the roof of an old building (where tree rings gave an accurate count of years).
The results were then compared with traditional time sequences derived from glacial deposits, cores of clay from the seabed, and so forth.
One application was a timetable of climate changes for tens of thousands of years back.
Many of the traditional chronologies turned out to be far less accurate than scientists had believed a bitter blow for some who had devoted decades of their lives to the work.
The radioactive isotope carbon-14 is created in the upper atmosphere when cosmic-ray particles from outer space strike nitrogen atoms and transform them into radioactive carbon.
As such, the reported half life of 30 \pm 40$ years means that $ years is the standard deviation for the process and so we expect that roughly $ percent of the time half of the Carbon $ in a given sample will decay within the time span of 30 \pm 40$ years.The prodigious mobilization of science that produced nuclear weapons was so far-reaching that it revolutionized even the study of ancient climates.