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Carbon-14 originates in the upper atmosphere of the earth and is created when neutrons originating from solar radiation bombardment collide with nitrogen in the air.

A reaction occurs and a tiny number of these collisions convert nitrogen to carbon-14.

The “radiocarbon revolution” made possible by Libby’s discovery greatly benefitted the fields of archaeology and geology by allowing practitioners to develop more precise historical chronologies across geography and cultures.

Willard Libby (1908–1980), a professor of chemistry at the University of Chicago, began the research that led him to radiocarbon dating in 1945.

There are three forms of carbon that naturally occur forming the building blocks of all plant and animal life.

The stable C12 and C13, and the unstable or radioactive Carbon 14. Only one C14 atom exists for every one trillion C12 atoms.

Nitrogen atoms in the upper atmosphere are struck by cosmic radiation and create C14 atoms.

These atoms rapidly decay into radiocarbon-dioxide and along with ordinary CO2 are absorbed by living plants.It is a technique that can yield absolute dates with accuracy up to approximately 5000 years before present.However its application has caused extreme confusion and misunderstanding of the archaeological record.In 1946, Willard Libby proposed an innovative method for dating organic materials by measuring their content of carbon-14, a newly discovered radioactive isotope of carbon.Known as radiocarbon dating, this method provides objective age estimates for carbon-based objects that originated from living organisms.Knowing the limitations of this dating method can help avoid colossal archaeological misinterpretations that would otherwise distort history.

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