Who devised the method of carbon 14 dating
Typically, a Master's Degree in chemistry is required because of the extensive lab work.
Increasingly though, students are learning about the principles of radiocarbon dates in archaeology, palaeontology and climate science degrees and can combine cross-disciplinary studies.
There are three carbon isotopes that occur as part of the Earth's natural processes; these are carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14.
The unstable nature of carbon 14 (with a precise half-life that makes it easy to measure) means it is ideal as an absolute dating method.
Stone and metal cannot be dated but pottery may be dated through surviving residue such as food particles or paint that uses organic material (8).
There are a number of ways to enter into a career in studying radiocarbon dating.
It is presumed that the proportion of atmospheric C is the same today as it was in 1950 (10), (11) and that the half-life remains the same.
In 1979, Desmond Clark said of the method “we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation” (3).
The next big step in the radiocarbon dating method would be Accelerated Mass Spectrometry which was developed in the late 1980s and published its first results in 1994 (3).
This was a giant leap forward in that it offered far more accurate dates for a far smaller sample (9); this made destruction of samples a far less delicate issue to researchers, especially on artefacts such as The Shroud of Turin for which accurate dates were now possible without damaging a significant part of the artefact.
Radiocarbon dating is simply a measure of the level of C isotopes in the atmosphere can vary.
This is why calibration against objects whose age is known is required (14).