Willard Libby (1908–1980), a professor of chemistry at the University of Chicago, began the research that led him to radiocarbon dating in 1945.
Known as radiocarbon dating, this method provides objective age estimates for carbon-based objects that originated from living organisms.
The “radiocarbon revolution” made possible by Libby’s discovery greatly benefitted the fields of archaeology and geology by allowing practitioners to develop more precise historical chronologies across geography and cultures.
This decay is an example of an exponential decay, shown in the figure below.
Knowing about half-lives is important because it enables you to determine when a sample of radioactive material is safe to handle.
So that's taking into account all the decays and all that stuff, this is a natural abundance. And that means that as time goes on, the carbon 14 abundance will decrease. So the amount that we've got at our time now is 0.5 times 10 to the -12.
So that means the carbon 14 abundance can tell us how long something's been dead. So let's see how we can use this to do a problem. It's bound to have a carbon 14 ratio that's only 0.5 times 10 to the -12. The initial amount when he died must have been 1.3 because he was interacting with its environment. Alright, so that means that t is going to be, I'm just going to solve this equation real quickly, it's going to be 5700 years times the natural log of 0.5 over 1.3 divided by the natural log of one half.
That’s because some cells are born after you are, sometimes many many years after, but we’re not really sure which ones, or when — it’s not as if there are cellular birthday parties, marked by balloons and cake.
So the question of age remained relatively unanswered until the early aughts, when scientist While Mary Webster has a very interesting analysis of tissue age, she is apparently unaware of the natural production of C-14 by cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere.
And if you type that in your calculator you'll find that this specimen is 700, oh sorry, 7860 years dead. So that's the way that we can do these calculations. Let's do it a different, let's do a different one.