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Rafter carbon dating

Under a microscope, a lab technician cleans a tiny wood chip extracted from an American museum treasure.

Radiocarbon daters must be the only people who are excited about the world's foray into nuclear bombs and testing.

While radiocarbon dating of more modern objects can be problematic, the so-called bomb peak allows scientists to quickly separate ancient and modern."From WWII on, huge amounts of C14 were pumped into the atmosphere and then, with the nuclear test ban treaty, all that ceased abruptly.

"It was kind of backwards – the fact it was so old showed that it was a modern fake".

The drinking vessels made from rhino horn she sent for radiocarbon dating turned out to be modern fakes.

The conservator, however, was not angry at the result.

As the Arctic ice sheets melt, the Siberian tundra is being exposed, together with preserved mammoth tusks, which are then carved and sold as ivory antiques.

Although little-feted, GNS's Rafter Radiocarbon laboratory in Lower Hutt was among the world's first to use radioactive decay to unravel history. Prior runs the half of the laboratory that cleans and distils samples down to pure elemental carbon, or graphite.