Radiocarbon dating, memories, and hopes

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The history of radiocarbon dating from 1939 to the present is reviewed. The basic principles of radiocarbon dating are that cosmic rays make living things radioactive with {sup 14}C to a certain level fixed by the environment and that at death the intake of food stops so no replenishment of the {sup 14}C steadily lost by the immutable decay occurs. Therefore measurement of the degree of decay gives the time lapse since death, i.e., the radiocarbon age. The equipment developed and experiments performed to measure the specific activity of specimens to be dated are described. The results obtained by world-wide ... continued below

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Pages: XXVII-XLIII

Creation Information

Libby, W.F. January 1, 1972.

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Description

The history of radiocarbon dating from 1939 to the present is reviewed. The basic principles of radiocarbon dating are that cosmic rays make living things radioactive with {sup 14}C to a certain level fixed by the environment and that at death the intake of food stops so no replenishment of the {sup 14}C steadily lost by the immutable decay occurs. Therefore measurement of the degree of decay gives the time lapse since death, i.e., the radiocarbon age. The equipment developed and experiments performed to measure the specific activity of specimens to be dated are described. The results obtained by world-wide experimenters are discussed. These showed that on simultaneity radiocarbon dating is apparently reliable but that absolute dates may be incorrect by as much as 600 to 700 y. The value of radiocarbon dating to archaeologists, geologists, climatologists, and historians is stressed. (LCL)

Physical Description

Pages: XXVII-XLIII

Source

  • International radiocarbon dating conference, Wellington, New Zealand, 18 Oct 1972; Other Information: See CONF-721019--(P1). Orig. Receipt Date: 30-JUN-75; Related Information: In: Proceedings of the eighth international radiocarbon dating conference. Vol. 1, organized by the Royal Society of New Zealand; Rafter, T.A.

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  • Report No.: Conf-721019--(P1)
  • Grant Number: None
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 4247579
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1023753

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • January 1, 1972

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  • Oct. 15, 2017, 10:09 p.m.

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Libby, W.F. Radiocarbon dating, memories, and hopes, article, January 1, 1972; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1023753/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.