How to solve a carbon dating problem
Animals eat plants, and some eat other animals in the food chain.Carbon follows this pathway through the food chain on Earth so that all living things are using carbon, building their bodies until they die."Everything which has come down to us from heathendom is wrapped in a thick fog; it belongs to a space of time we cannot measure.We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].They thought that sites which had the same kinds of pots and tools would be the same age.The relative dating method worked very well, but only in sites which were had a connection to the relative scale. When radiocarbon dating was developed, it revolutionised archaeology, because it enabled them to more confidently date the past, and to build a more accurate picture of the human past. Because during each half-life, carbon loses half of its weight. Welcome to the K12 section of the Radiocarbon WEBinfo site.
I have tried here to answer some of the frequently asked questions that I receive from students via email, as well as providing some basic information about scientific dating methods.
Willard Libby, the principal scientist, had worked in the team making the nuclear bomb during World War 2, so he was an expert in nuclear and atomic chemistry.
After the war he became very interested in peaceful applications of atomic science.
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.
Libby of the University of Chicago after the end of World War 2.