They found a form, isotope, of Carbon that contained 8 neutrons and 6 protons.Using this finding Willard Libby and his team at the University of Chicago proposed that Carbon-14 was unstable and underwent a total of 14 disintegrations per minute per gram.This discovery is in contrast to the carbon dating results for the Turin Shroud that was supposed to have wrapped Jesus’ body.Carbon dating has shown that the cloth was made between 12 AD.
He demonstrated the accuracy of radiocarbon dating by accurately estimating the age of wood from a series of samples for which the age was known, including an ancient Egyptian royal barge dating from 1850 BCE.
Once an organism is decoupled from these cycles (i.e., death), then the carbon-14 decays until essentially gone.
The half-life of a radioactive isotope (usually denoted by \(t_\)) is a more familiar concept than \(k\) for radioactivity, so although Equation \(\ref\) is expressed in terms of \(k\), it is more usual to quote the value of \(t_\).
Although it may be seen as outdated, many labs still use Libby's half-life in order to stay consistent in publications and calculations within the laboratory.
From the discovery of Carbon-14 to radiocarbon dating of fossils, we can see what an essential role Carbon has played and continues to play in our lives today.
So by measuring carbon 14 levels in an organism that died long ago, researchers can figure out when it died.