Libby, Willard Frank

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Libby, Willard Frank,

1908–80, American chemist, b. Grand Valley, Colo., grad. Univ. of California (B.S., 1931; Ph.D., 1933). He taught (1933–45) at the Univ. of California and was a chemist (1941–45) in the war research division at Columbia. From 1945 to 1954 he was with the Univ. of Chicago and was a member of the committee of reviewers for the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC); he was then (1954–59) an AEC commissioner. In 1959 he joined the faculty of the Univ. of California at Los Angeles. Libby was awarded the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development (c.1946) of radioactive carbon-14 datingdating,
the determination of the age of an object, of a natural phenomenon, or of a series of events. There are two basic types of dating methods, relative and absolute.
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. He was the recipient of several other prizes, including the 1959 Albert Einstein award. Libby wrote Radiocarbon Dating (1955).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Libby, Willard Frank


Born Dec. 17, 1908, in Grand Valley, Colo. American physical chemist.

Libby received the B. Sc. (1931) and Ph. D. (1933) degrees in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, where he later taught chemistry (1933–45). From 1945 to 1959 he worked at the Institute for Nuclear Studies and at the University of Chicago. In 1959 he became a professor of chemistry at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Libby developed the method of radiocarbon dating, which has made it possible to determine the age of archaeological samples (containing carbon) by measuring the radioactivity of the samples caused by the isotope 14C. He also worked on developing the gaseous-diffusion method of separating the isotope 235U from natural uranium. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1960.


Radiocarbon Dating, 2nd ed. Chicago, 1955.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.