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Upwelling mixes this "old" water with the surface water, giving the surface water an apparent age of about several hundred years (after correcting for fractionation).These deviations can be accounted in calibration, and software such as CALIB can estimate the appropriate correction for different locations.

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The results were summarized in a paper in Science in 1947, in which the authors commented that their results implied it would be possible to date materials containing carbon of organic origin.Measurement of radiocarbon was originally done by beta-counting devices, which counted the amount of beta radiation emitted by decaying atoms in the sample and not just the few that happen to decay during the measurements; it can therefore be used with much smaller samples (as small as individual plant seeds), and gives results much more quickly.The development of radiocarbon dating has had a profound impact on archaeology: in addition to permitting more accurate dating within archaeological sites than previous methods, it allows comparison of dates of events across great distances, and it has allowed key transitions in prehistory to be dated, such as the end of the last ice age.Libby and James Arnold proceeded to test the radiocarbon dating theory by analyzing samples with known ages.For example, two samples taken from the tombs of two Egyptian kings, Zoser and Sneferu, independently dated to 2625 BC plus or minus 75 years, were dated by radiocarbon measurement to an average of 2800 BC plus or minus 250 years. Carbon dioxide produced in this way diffuses in the atmosphere, is dissolved in the ocean, and is taken up by plants via photosynthesis.

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