Inventor of radioactive dating

07-Nov-2019 23:08

The prodigious mobilization of science that produced nuclear weapons was so far-reaching that it revolutionized even the study of ancient climates.Nuclear laboratories, awash with funds and prestige, spun off the discovery of an amazing new technique — radiocarbon dating.These people have only succeeded in correctly showing that one can fool a single radiometric dating method when one uses it improperly.The false radiometric ages of several million years are due to parentless argon, as described here, and were first reported in the literature some fifty years ago.By 1950, Willard Libby and his group at the University of Chicago had worked out ways to measure this proportion precisely.Their exquisitely sensitive instrumentation was originally developed for studies in entirely different fields including nuclear physics, biomedicine, and detecting fallout from bomb tests.(1) Much of the initial interest in carbon-14 came from archeology, for the isotope could assign dates to Egyptian mummies and the like.Any contamination of a sample by outside carbon (even from the researcher's fingerprints) had to be fanatically excluded, of course, but that was only the beginning.Delicate operations were needed to extract a microscopic sample and process it.

The percentage of carbon-14 present in the remains of plants and animals can be used to determine age.

The radioactive isotope carbon-14 is created in the upper atmosphere when cosmic-ray particles from outer space strike nitrogen atoms and transform them into radioactive carbon.

Some of the carbon-14 might find its way into living creatures.

One application was a timetable of climate changes for tens of thousands of years back.

Many of the traditional chronologies turned out to be far less accurate than scientists had believed — a bitter blow for some who had devoted decades of their lives to the work.

The percentage of carbon-14 present in the remains of plants and animals can be used to determine age.

The radioactive isotope carbon-14 is created in the upper atmosphere when cosmic-ray particles from outer space strike nitrogen atoms and transform them into radioactive carbon.

Some of the carbon-14 might find its way into living creatures.

One application was a timetable of climate changes for tens of thousands of years back.

Many of the traditional chronologies turned out to be far less accurate than scientists had believed — a bitter blow for some who had devoted decades of their lives to the work.

Making the job harder still, baffling anomalies turned up.