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Point of interest Why can carbon-14 dating be used to track the age of modern wines but not wines 100-200 years old?DR FIONA PETCHEY We use several different sorts of standards.

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The idea behind radiocarbon dating is straightforward, but years of work were required to develop the technique to the point where accurate dates could be obtained.

The method was developed by Willard Libby in the late 1940s and soon became a standard tool for archaeologists.

Libby received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960.

(Photo credit: Mari Cleven)For decades, radiocarbon dating has been a way for scientists to get a rough picture of when once-living stuff lived.

They have no bias, and they have no political agenda; they just stand at locations all over the world," says Charlotte Pearson, an assistant professor of dendrochronology at the UA, studies samples under a microscope.

They are chronographs, recording clocks, by which the succeeding seasons are set down through definite imprints," he wrote in the pages of National Geographic.

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