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Prior planned to be a ‘‘regular scientist’’, like her aerospace engineer father.
But she became hooked on archaeology after her parents took her as a little girl to the archaeological sites of Colorado’s Mesa Verde.
While the Aussies are hoping their water will be young as it means it's a renewable resource, when a Nelson vodka company dated its water source some years ago it was hoping for an ancient date – the 26,000 years from which it takes its name.
In the early days, radiocarbon dating was painfully slow as it involved waiting for the C14 to decay and counting the rate.
At university she took some anthropology classes to find out what those ruins were really all about.
Then she got hooked."There was this little sandal that was excavated out of a rock shelter in California.
The drinking vessels made from rhino horn she sent for radiocarbon dating turned out to be modern fakes.They radiocarbon dated it and it came out as a couple of thousand years old.You could see there was the impression of somebody's toes.Although little-feted, GNS's Rafter Radiocarbon laboratory in Lower Hutt was among the world's first to use radioactive decay to unravel history. Prior runs the half of the laboratory that cleans and distils samples down to pure elemental carbon, or graphite.Down the hall is her husband Albert Zondervan's domain – the hulking m machine that splits the carbon into its stable and radioactive forms.