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The clock was initially calibrated by dating objects of known age such as Egyptian mummies and bread from Pompeii; work that won Willard Libby the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The column headed "14C Age" provides a raw age before 1950 for each sample tested.

­ ­As soon as a living organism dies, it stops taking in new carbon.

The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 at the moment of death is the same as every other living thing, but the carbon-14 decays and is not replaced.

However, the principle of carbon-14 dating applies to other isotopes as well.

Potassium-40 is another radioactive element naturally found in your body and has a half-life of 1.3 billion years.

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