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There are two reasons uncalibrated dates must be mentioned: 1) this prevents people from making up any number they please, and 2) it is for the sake of posterity, where future scientists can check the results and apply new ideas of calibration. Radiocarbon dates are affected by many outside factors.The accuracy of the machines is not in question (especially modern ones, which are astoundingly accurate when properly zeroed in). But, any source of old carbon in the ancient environment can affect the amount of C-14 in a sample.Trees undergo spurts in growth in the spring and summer months while becoming somewhat dormant in the fall and winter months.

Periods of heavy rain and lots of sunshine will make larger gaps of growth in the rings, while periods of drought might make it difficult to count individual rings. When a given quantity of an isotope is created (in a supernovae, for example), after the half-life has expired, 50% of the parent isotope will have decomposed into daughter isotopes.

These ions are accelerated in an electric field through collimating slits and subject to a magnetic field which causes the ions to follow a curved path. By adjustment of the strength of the magnetic field and suitable placement of an ion collector, the different isotopes can be measured with precision.

There are some things that affect these measurements.

Alpha decay of the The sum of the mass numbers of the products (234 4) is equal to the mass number of the parent nuclide (238), and the sum of the charges on the products (90 2) is equal to the charge on the parent nuclide.

Nuclei can also decay by capturing one of the electrons that surround the nucleus.

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