Emilio Segrè asserted in his autobiography that Enrico Fermi suggested the concept to Libby at a seminar in Chicago that year.
Organisms capture a certain amount of carbon-14 from the atmosphere when they are alive.
By measuring the ratio of the radio isotope to non-radioactive carbon, the amount of carbon-14 decay can be worked out, thereby giving an age for the specimen in question.
Once an organism is decoupled from these cycles (i.e., death), then the carbon-14 decays until essentially gone.
The half-life of a radioactive isotope (usually denoted by \(t_\)) is a more familiar concept than \(k\) for radioactivity, so although Equation \(\ref\) is expressed in terms of \(k\), it is more usual to quote the value of \(t_\).
This discovery is in contrast to the carbon dating results for the Turin Shroud that was supposed to have wrapped Jesus’ body.
Carbon dating has shown that the cloth was made between 12 AD.
Thus, the Turin Shroud was made over a thousand years after the death of Jesus.
The technique of radiocarbon dating was developed by Willard Libby and his colleagues at the University of Chicago in 1949.
They found a form, isotope, of Carbon that contained 8 neutrons and 6 protons.
Using this finding Willard Libby and his team at the University of Chicago proposed that Carbon-14 was unstable and underwent a total of 14 disintegrations per minute per gram.
The currently accepted value for the half-life of will remain; a quarter will remain after 11,460 years; an eighth after 17,190 years; and so on.