However, my research has indicated that there are two serious issues of concern with radiocarbon dating that still cause serious problems today.
These are 1) Sample contamination, 2) Measuring the levels of C14 in our atmosphere over the geological ages. Although such methodical incompetence would never be tolerated today, archaeological samples still suffer from contamination.
These rogue carbon 14 isotopes, which are produced at a steady rate, are then oxidized and absorbed into the biosphere through the process of photosynthesis and the natural food chain .
Consequently all living things incorporate the atmospheric ratio of C14 to C12 in their geographical area, which is maintained by their metabolic rate .
This means that after 5568 years or so, half of the original amount of C14 would have disintegrated from the sample.
After another 5568 years, again, half of what is left dies.
Herein lie the basic backbone principles of radiocarbon dating as a tool of science and archaeology.
Similar problems such as these, and there are many of them , have been addressed and are accounted for in modern radiocarbon studies.
Indeed, today it is generally agreed that Libby was wrong and that the half-life of C14 is actually closer to 5730 years .
This is a discrepancy of 162 years and becomes very significant when dating samples thousands of years old.
However, we leave the actual task of understanding radiocarbon dating to the boffin elite – we accept their conclusions blindly, respect the precision of their equipment and admire their genius.
In truth, the principles of radiocarbon dating are astoundingly simple and readily accessible.
By 1960 their work was complete and in December of the same year Libby was presented with the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.