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In this method, the sample is in liquid form and a scintillator is added.
This activity was developed for use in a high school (grades 9-12) earth science class.
It is also appropriate for an introductory level college geoscience class. The Relative Dating Lecture prepares students to be able to rank the images in the Relative Dating Activity from youngest to oldest and how to apply this to the formation of seamounts and volcanic islands.
The principal modern standard used by radiocarbon dating labs was the Oxalic Acid I obtained from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland. Around 95% of the radiocarbon activity of Oxalic Acid I is equal to the measured radiocarbon activity of the absolute radiocarbon standard—a wood in 1890 unaffected by fossil fuel effects.
When the stocks of Oxalic Acid I were almost fully consumed, another standard was made from a crop of 1977 French beet molasses.
A vial with a sample is passed between two photomultipliers, and only when both devices register the flash of light that a count is made.