Small amounts of carbon-14 are not easily detected by typical Geiger–Müller (G-M) detectors; it is estimated that G-M detectors will not normally detect contamination of less than about 100,000 disintegrations per minute (0.05 µCi). The method was developed by Willard Libby in the late 1940s and soon became a standard tool for archaeologists.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.
Carbon-14 was discovered on 27 February 1940, by Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben at the University of California Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, California.
But in a dead organism, no new carbon is coming in, and its carbon 14 gradually begins to decay.
So by measuring carbon 14 levels in an organism that died long ago, researchers can figure out when it died.
Carbon-14 is produced in the atmosphere when neutrons from cosmic radiation react with nitrogen atoms: C ratio of 0.795 times that found in plants living today. Solution The half-life of carbon-14 is known to be 5720 years. Radioactive decay is a first order rate process, which means the reaction proceeds according to the following equation: is the quantity of radioactive material at time zero, X is the amount remaining after time t, and k is the first order rate constant, which is a characteristic of the isotope undergoing decay.
Archaeologists use the exponential, radioactive decay of carbon 14 to estimate the death dates of organic material.