It was first displayed at Lirey in France in the 1350s and subsequently passed into the hands of the Dukes of Savoy.
It is used in dating things such as bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers that were created in the relatively recent past by human activities.
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.
The carbon-14 decays with its half-life of 5,700 years, while the amount of carbon-12 remains constant in the sample.
By looking at the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the sample and comparing it to the ratio in a living organism, it is possible to determine the age of a formerly living thing fairly precisely. So, if you had a fossil that had 10 percent carbon-14 compared to a living sample, then that fossil would be: t = [ ln (0.10) / (-0.693) ] x 5,700 years t = [ (-2.303) / (-0.693) ] x 5,700 years t = [ 3.323 ] x 5,700 years Because the half-life of carbon-14 is 5,700 years, it is only reliable for dating objects up to about 60,000 years old.