Willard Frank Libby

Facts

Willard Frank Libby

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Willard Frank Libby

Born: 17 December 1908, Grand Valley, CO, USA

Died: 8 September 1980, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Prize motivation: "for his method to use carbon-14 for age determination in archaeology, geology, geophysics, and other branches of science."

Prize share: 1/1

Work

Carbon is a fundamental component in all living material. In nature there are two variants, or isotopes: carbon-12, which is stable, and carbon-14, which is radioactive. Carbon-14 forms in the atmosphere when acted upon by cosmic radiation and then deteriorates. When an organism dies and the supply of carbon from the atmosphere ceases, the content of carbon-14 declines through radioactive decay at a fixed rate. In 1949 Willard Libby developed a method for applying this to determine the age of fossils and archeological relics.

To cite this section
MLA style: Willard F. Libby – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2018. Tue. 25 Sep 2018. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/1960/libby/facts/>

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