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An accelerator mass spectrometer has a run time of a few hours per sample.Lastly, it must be noted that AMS measurements usually achieve higher precision and lower backgrounds than radiometric dating methods.Mass spectrometers detect atoms of specific elements according to their atomic weights.

Establishing and maintaining an accelerator mass spectrometer costs millions of dollars.Thanks to nuclear physics, mass spectrometers have been fine-tuned to separate a rare isotope from an abundant neighboring mass, and accelerator mass spectrometry was born.A method has finally been developed to detect carbon 14 in a given sample and ignore the more abundant isotopes that swamp the carbon 14 signal.Radiometric dating methods detect beta particles from the decay of carbon 14 atoms while accelerator mass spectrometers count the number of carbon 14 atoms present in the sample.Both carbon dating methods have advantages and disadvantages.

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