Oakley (1979) suggested its development meant an almost complete re-writing of the evolution and cultural emergence of the human species.
Desmond Clark (1979) wrote that were it not for radiocarbon dating, "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation" (Clark, 1979:7).
Radiocarbon present in molecules of atmospheric carbon dioxide enters the biological carbon cycle: it is absorbed from the air by green plants and then passed on to animals through the food chain.
Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food.
Carbon-14 is continually formed in nature by the interaction of neutrons with nitrogen-14 in the Earth’s atmosphere; the neutrons required for this reaction are produced by cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere.Plants and animals which utilise carbon in biological foodchains take up 14C during their lifetimes.They exist in equilibrium with the C14 concentration of the atmosphere, that is, the numbers of C14 atoms and non-radioactive carbon atoms stays approximately the same over time.Writing of the European Upper Palaeolithic, Movius (1960) concluded that "time alone is the lens that can throw it into focus".The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.
Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon.