The method was developed by Willard Libby in the late 1940s and soon became a standard tool for archaeologists.Libby received the Nobel Prize for his work in 1960.A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will spontaneously change into a different nuclide by radioactive decay.
The idea behind radiocarbon dating is straightforward, but years of work were required to develop the technique to the point where accurate dates could be obtained.
Radiocarbon dating is one kind of radiometric dating, used for determining the age of organic remains that are less than 50,000 years old.
For inorganic matter and for older materials, isotopes of other elements, such as potassium, uranium, and strontium, are used.
Among the best-known techniques are radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon dating and uranium-lead dating.
By allowing the establishment of geological timescales, it provides a significant source of information about the ages of fossils and the deduced rates of evolutionary change.
Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.
Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes, with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.
It may be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.
Fossils may be dated by taking samples of rocks from above and below the fossil's original position.
Research has been ongoing since the 1960s to determine what the proportion of in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years.
The resulting data, in the form of a calibration curve, is now used to convert a given measurement of radiocarbon in a sample into an estimate of the sample's calendar age.