Radio dating isotopes
The archaeologist Colin Renfrew (1973) called it the development of this dating method 'the radiocarbon revolution' in describing its great impact upon the human sciences.
The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.
Most of the carbon on Earth exists in a slightly different atomic form, although it is chemically speaking, identical to all carbon.
In the 1940s, scientists succeeded in finding out how long it takes for radiocarbon to disappear, or decay, from a sample of carbon from a dead plant or animal.
This means that its atomic structure is not stable and there is an uneasy relationship between the particles in the nucleus of the atom itself.
Eventually, a particle is emitted from the carbon 14 atom, and carbon 14 disappears.
Libby later received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960 for the radiocarbon discovery.
Libby found that it took 5568 years for half the radiocarbon to decay.
After twice that time (about 11000 years), another half of that remaining amount will have disappeared.
Therefore, radiocarbon dating is not able to date anything older than 60 or 70 000 years old.
The job of a radiocarbon laboratory is to measure the remaining amounts of radiocarbon in a carbon sample.