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Libby received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960.The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.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.Research has been ongoing since the 1960s to determine what the proportion of in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years.A correction for the half-life is incorporated into calibration curves, so even though radiocarbon ages are calculated using a half-life value that is known to be incorrect, the final reported calibrated date, in calendar years, is accurate.

Looking to hire smart programmers who get things done? For my day job, I'm the co-founder and CEO of Stack Overflow, the largest online community for programmers to learn, share their knowledge, and level up.For example, two samples taken from the tombs of two Egyptian kings, Zoser and Sneferu, independently dated to 2625 BC plus or minus 75 years, were dated by radiocarbon measurement to an average of 2800 BC plus or minus 250 years. Carbon dioxide produced in this way diffuses in the atmosphere, is dissolved in the ocean, and is taken up by plants via photosynthesis.Animals eat the plants, and ultimately the radiocarbon is distributed throughout the biosphere.This was revised in the early 1960s to 5,730 years, which meant that many calculated dates in papers published prior to this were incorrect (the error in the half-life is about 3%).For consistency with these early papers, and to avoid the risk of a double correction for the incorrect half-life, radiocarbon ages are still calculated using the incorrect half-life value.

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