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.
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Welcome to the K12 section of the Radiocarbon WEBinfo site.
The aim here is to provide clear, understandable information relating to radiocarbon dating for the benefit of K12 students, as well as lay people who are not requiring detailed information about the method of radiocarbon dating itself.
The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.
Libby of the University of Chicago after the end of World War 2.
Libby later received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960 for the radiocarbon discovery.
Today, there are over 130 radiocarbon dating laboratories around the world producing radiocarbon dates for the scientific community.
It is called 'radio'-carbon, because it is 'radioactive'.
This means that its atomic structure is not stable and there is an uneasy relationship between the particles in the nucleus of the atom itself.
Rasmus Nyerup's quote reminds us of the tremendous scientific advances which have taken place in the 20th century.