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The colleague who nominated him noted: “Seldom has a single discovery in chemistry had such an impact on the thinking of so many fields of human endeavour.
The object is simply placed in a special chamber with a plasma, an electrically charged gas similar to those used in big-screen plasma television displays.
Any material of plant or animal origin, including textiles, wood, bones and leather, can be dated by its content of carbon-14.
Scientists remove a small sample from an object, treat the sample with a strong acid and a strong base, and finally burn it in a small glass chamber to produce carbon dioxide gas.
It is seen by many scientists to be crucial for making the connection between the past, the present and the future.
Climatologists want to understand the correct timing of past warming, thawing and freezing cycles so that they can understand the likelihood of future cycles.