Willard Frank Libby is Born
On December 17, 1908, Willard Frank "Wild Bill" Libby was born on a farm in Grand Valley, Colorado.
Libby won the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of the technique known as radiocarbon dating.
Carbon dating is now a tool of many trades—archeology, geology, history, geophysics, and preservation among others. The technique uses an unstable isotope of carbon, carbon-14, to discern the age of physical phenomena as diverse as the end of the Ice Age, an old shoe, or funerary objects from a pharaoh's tomb.
Willard Frank Libby (December 17, 1908 – September 8, 1980) was an American physical chemist, famous for his role in the 1949 development of radiocarbon dating, a process which revolutionized archaeology.
Libby was born in Grand Valley, Colorado. He received his B.S. in 1931 and Ph.D. in 1933 in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, where he then became a lecturer and later assistant professor. Libby spent the 1930s building sensitive geiger counters to measure weak natural and artificial radioactivity. In 1941 he joined Berkeley's chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma.
Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, he spent most of 1941 at Princeton University. After the start of World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University with Nobel laureate chemist Harold Urey. Libby was responsible for the gaseous diffusion separation and enrichment of the Uranium-235 which was used in the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.