Site of radiocarbon dating discovery named historic landmark

Photo of Willard Libby

Willard F. Libby, professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago, receives the 1951 Research Corporation Award for his radiocarbon dating process at a dinner held in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. [University of Chicago Photographic Archive, [apf1-03870], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

A ceremony was held in yesterday in historic Kent Chemical Laboratory to commemorate the discovery of radiocarbon dating—an innovative and broadly applied method to measure the age of organic materials.  This year marks the 70th anniversary of University of Chicago professor Willard F. Libby’s first publication (W. F. Libby, “Atmospheric Helium Three and Radiocarbon from Cosmic Radiation,” Phys. Rev. 69, 671-2, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRev.69.671.2) on radiocarbon dating, which appeared in the June 1, 1946 issue of Physical Review.  The work earned Libby the 1960 Nobel Prize in chemistry which recognized his accomplishments in the development of a “method to use carbon-14 for age for determinations in archaeology, geology, geophysics and other branches of science.”

More information about Libby’s discovery can be found at the National Historic Chemical Landmark radiocarbon dating page: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/radiocarbon-dating.html?cid=home_calendar

For further reading, the Library has a broad variety of books and other resources dealing with the subject of radiocarbon dating.  The following are a few examples:

Radiocarbon dating / by Willard F. Libby [2d ed.]
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [1955]
http://pi.lib.uchicago.edu/1001/cat/bib/363562

Radiocarbon dating : an archaeological perspective. / by Taylor, R. E. (Royal Ervin) [2nd ed.]
Walnut Creek, California : Left Coast Press, Inc., [2014]
http://pi.lib.uchicago.edu/1001/cat/bib/10114626

Before civilization: the radiocarbon revolution and prehistoric Europe. / by Renfrew, Colin [1st American ed.]
New York, Knopf, [1973]
http://pi.lib.uchicago.edu/1001/cat/bib/15708

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