Carbon dating used today
It is called 'radio'-carbon, because it is 'radioactive'.This means that its atomic structure is not stable and there is an uneasy relationship between the particles in the nucleus of the atom itself.The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.Libby of the University of Chicago after the end of World War 2.
The archaeologist Colin Renfrew (1973) called it the development of this dating method 'the radiocarbon revolution' in describing its great impact upon the human sciences.
You can work out that after about 50 000 years of time, all the radiocarbon will have gone.
Therefore, radiocarbon dating is not able to date anything older than 60 or 70 000 years old.
Welcome to the K12 section of the Radiocarbon WEBinfo site.
The aim here is to provide clear, understandable information relating to radiocarbon dating for the benefit of K12 students, as well as lay people who are not requiring detailed information about the method of radiocarbon dating itself.