When Libby developed the radiocarbon dating technique, he validated the method by comparing measured carbon ratios (carbon-14/carbon-12) from artifacts of known age with predictions of the ratio expected by assuming the decay rate.
One of the great achievements of Post-Normal Science after the Second World War was the establishment of Radiocarbon Dating as academically acceptable Settled Science. Straight off we had to face the question: ‘How can you expect a museum keeper to give precious, invaluable materials for you to destroy?
While organisms live, they incorporate radioactive carbon-14 from the atmosphere.
The same applies to marine organisms, although with some well-understood subtleties.
In the presentation speech for the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, one scientist described the work by honoree Willard Libby with these words: “Seldom has a single discovery in chemistry had such an impact on the thinking of so many fields of human endeavour.
Libby’s theory was rooted in the principal that all living things are composed of carbon.
The American chemist Willard Frank Libby (1908-1980) pioneered in radiocarbon dating, for which he received the Nobel Prize.
After the organism dies, the carbon-14 decays in a predictable way.
By measuring the ratio of carbon-14 to stable carbon-12, scientists can then determine when the organism in question died.The short answer is a resounding YES and here’s why.