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It also has some applications in geology; its importance in dating organic materials cannot be underestimated enough.
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).
Willard Frank Libby (1908-1980), a Nobel Prize laureate and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient was a pioneer in the use of differential decay of the Carbon 14 Isotope for dating organic materials; what we now call radiocarbon dating.
He addressed this scientific puzzle after developing a gaseous diffusion enrichment process for uranium-235.
Prior to looking at the many flaws in the Carbon-14 Dating Technique, it should be noted that no radiometric technique is reliable.
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.
The other two isotopes in comparison are more common than carbon-14 in the atmosphere but increase with the burning of fossil fuels making them less reliable for study (2); carbon-14 also increases, but its relative rarity means its increase is negligible. After this point, other Absolute Dating methods may be used.
Today, the radiocarbon-14 dating method is used extensively in environmental sciences and in human sciences such as archaeology and anthropology.