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Luckily, we can measure these fluctuations in samples that are dated by other methods.Tree rings can be counted and their radiocarbon content measured.
In the early years of radiocarbon dating a product’s decay was measured, but this required huge samples (e.g. Many labs now use an Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS), a machine that can detect and measure the presence of different isotopes, to count the individual C atoms in a sample.
Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons.
This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.
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View the full list Radiocarbon dating has transformed our understanding of the past 50,000 years.