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The small pieces of bone were combusted to produce carbon dioxide which was then put through a mass spectrometer.Testing two pieces each at two different facilities should provide consistent results – and indeed it did. The proportion of C-14 in the atmosphere, and hence in living things, is not constant but varies over the centuries, and it also varies between the atmosphere and the oceans.C is a cosmogenic radionuclide that is formed continuously but not quite at a constant rate by the reaction of thermal neutrons with atmospheric nitrogen: It was the work of Willard Libby and his co-workers at the Institute for Nuclear Studies and Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago that led to the development of the radiocarbon dating technique ( is taken up by green plants in the terrestrial biosphere and converted to carbohydrates by the process of photosynthesis.Subsequent consumption of plants by animals (and animals by other animals) transfers the C enrichment between the well mixed atmosphere and the terrestrial flora and fauna that atmospheric carbon supports, provided that due corrections are made for the degree of isotopic fractionation that takes place during the initial uptake and subsequent metabolic fixation of atmospheric carbon by the primary producers (plant life) and thereafter, any isotopic fractionation that occurs during subsequent transport through the food chain.The SUERC results showed a 95% probability that the bone samples dated from around AD1430-1460, and over in Oxford the results both came out at around AD1412-1449, again with a 95% confidence. Radiocarbon dating of marine organisms can be out by up to several hundred years, and this effect can occur to a lesser degree in terrestrial life where sea-food forms part of the diet.The mass spectrometry of the Greyfriars bone samples reveals that the individual in question had a high-protein diet including a significant proportion of seafood.
Nitrogen atoms in the upper atmosphere are struck by cosmic radiation and create C14 atoms.
The bone powder is pretreated and cleaned over about 4 days.