Methods of radiocarbon dating
Libby later received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960 for the radiocarbon discovery.
He and two students first measured the "half-life" of radiocarbon.The job of a radiocarbon laboratory is to measure the remaining amounts of radiocarbon in a carbon sample.This is very difficult and requires a lot of careful work to produce reliable dates.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.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.
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.