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Libby estimated that the steady state radioactivity concentration of exchangeable carbon 14 would be about 14 disintegrations per minute (dpm) per gram.
In 1960, Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work.
The trade-off between radiocarbon dating and other techniques is that we exchange precision for a wider geographical and temporal range.
That is the true benefit of radiocarbon dating, that it can be employed anywhere in the world, and does have about a 60,000 year range.
Finally, although radiocarbon dating is the most common and widely used chronometric technique in archaeology today, it is not unfailing. Whenever possible multiple samples should be collected and dated from associated sections.
The trend of the samples will provide a ball park estimate of the actual date of deposition.
But when gas exchange is stopped, be it in a particular part of the body like in deposits in bones and teeth, or when the entire organism dies, the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 begins to decrease.
The unstable carbon-14 gradually decays to carbon-12 at a steady rate. Scientists measure the ratio of carbon isotopes to be able to estimate how far back in time a biological sample was active or alive.
Willard Libby at the University of Chicago developed the technique of radiocarbon dating in 1949.Radiocarbon dating, or simply carbon dating, is a technique that uses the decay of carbon 14 to estimate the age of organic materials.This method works effectively up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Inscriptions, distinctive markings, and historical documents can all offer clues to an artifact’s age.And if the artifact is organic, like wood or bone, researchers can turn to a method called radiocarbon dating.