Define radioactive carbon dating

Working with several collaboraters, Libby established the natural occurrence of radiocarbon by detecting its radioactivity in methane from the Baltimore sewer.In contrast, methane made from petroleum products had no measurable radioactivity.

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View the full list Radiocarbon dating has transformed our understanding of the past 50,000 years.Desmond Clark (1979) wrote that were it not for radiocarbon dating, "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation" (Clark, 1979:7).Writing of the European Upper Palaeolithic, Movius (1960) concluded that "time alone is the lens that can throw it into focus".This discovery meant that there are three naturally occurring isotopes of carbon: Whereas carbon-12 and carbon-13 are stable isotopes, carbon-14 is unstable or radioactive.Carbon-14 is produced in the upper atmosphere when cosmic rays bombard nitrogen atoms.