Willard Libby

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Willard Libby (1908-1980) was a University of Chicago professor and physical chemist who proposed carbon dating in the late 1940s and authored a book entitled Radiocarbon Dating (1952). This work became a favorite of promoters of evolution and an Old Earth, despite limitations and a disprovable assumption (see below), and Libby was heralded as a hero on the cover of Time magazine[1] and granted these honors:

  • the Chandler Medal of Columbia University, recognizing outstanding achievement in chemistry (1954)
  • the American Chemical Society Award for Nuclear Applications in Chemistry (1956)
  • the Elliott Cresson Medal of the Franklin Institute (1957)
  • the American Chemical Society's Willard Gibbs Medal Award (1958)
  • the Albert Einstein Medal Award (1959);
  • the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1960);
  • named a member of the Editorial Board of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (1960); and
  • member of the Editorial Board of Science (1962)

The disprovable assumption on which carbon-14 dating was stated by Professor Libby in his book:[2]

If the cosmic radiation has remained at its present intensity for 20,000 or 30,000 years, and if the carbon reservoir has not changed appreciably in this time, then there exists at the present time a complete balance between the rate of disintegration of radiocarbon atoms and the rate of assimilation of new radiocarbon atoms for all material in the life-cycle.

In fact, even though it would take only about 30,000 years to reach the assumed equilibrium, the present Earth has not yet reached that level, which suggests that Earth is less than 30,000 years old:[3]

The Specific Production Rate (SPR) of C-14 is known to be 18.8 atoms per gram of total carbon per minute. The Specific Decay Rate (SDR) is known to be only 16.1 disintegrations per gram per minute.


  1. http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2009/03/nobel-laureate-willard-libby.html
  2. W. Libby, Radiocarbon Dating (Univ. of Chicago Press: 1952).
  3. http://www.rae.org/bits23.htm