How do scientists figure out how old things are?

The ability to precisely date, or identify the age of an object, can teach us when Earth formed, help reveal past climates and tell us how early humans lived. So how do scientists do it?

Radiocarbon dating is the most common method by far, according to experts. This method involves measuring quantities of carbon-14, a radioactive carbon isotope — or version of an atom with a different number of neutrons. Carbon-14 is ubiquitous in the environment. After it forms high up in the atmosphere, plants breathe it in and animals breathe it out, said Thomas Higham, an archaeologist and radiocarbon dating specialist at the University of Oxford in England. 

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