Willard Frank Libby

  • From:

    University of California, Los Angeles │ Los Angeles, California

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  • Citation:

    For the technique of radiocarbon dating.

Willard Frank Libby was born in Grand Valley, Colorado, in 1908. Libby was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, (receiving his B.Sc. in 1931 and his Ph.D in 1933) where he also worked as an instructor, assistant and then associate professor. During World War II he worked on the Manhattan District Project; at the end of the war he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago. He left academia to become a member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission from 1954 to 1959. Libby became Professor of Chemistry at UCLA in 1959. In 1962 he became the founding director of UCLA's Space Physics Center.

Libby developed "carbon dating," a method of using carbon-14 for age determination in archaeology, geology, geophysics and other branches of science. He first proposed his hypothesis in 1947, and was able to provide experimental proof soon after. For this work, Libby was awarded the Elliott Cresson Medal of The Franklin Institute in 1957, and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960.

Information as of 1957