Carbon dating explained simple dating laval policemen
Comparing the old wood with modern samples, he showed that the fossil carbon could be detected in the modern atmosphere.(5) Through the 1950s and beyond, carbon-14 workers published detailed tables of dates painstakingly derived from samples of a wondrous variety of materials, including charcoal, peat, clamshells, antlers, pine cones, and the stomach contents of an extinct Moa found buried in New Zealand.(6) The measurements were correlated with materials of known dates, such as a well-documented mummy or a log from the roof of an old building (where tree rings gave an accurate count of years).
Some speculated that such irregularities might be caused by variations in the Earth's magnetic field.
Any contamination of a sample by outside carbon (even from the researcher's fingerprints) had to be fanatically excluded, of course, but that was only the beginning.
Delicate operations were needed to extract a microscopic sample and process it.
By 1950, Willard Libby and his group at the University of Chicago had worked out ways to measure this proportion precisely.
Their exquisitely sensitive instrumentation was originally developed for studies in entirely different fields including nuclear physics, biomedicine, and detecting fallout from bomb tests.(1) Much of the initial interest in carbon-14 came from archeology, for the isotope could assign dates to Egyptian mummies and the like.
The prodigious mobilization of science that produced nuclear weapons was so far-reaching that it revolutionized even the study of ancient climates.