In other words, life in the universe moves inconceivably slowly.
But for individual humans—and entire civilizations—it does not.
Dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating have intertwined histories, she explains, with roots firmly planted at the UA.
A 1929 edition of National Geographic boasts, "The Secret Of The Southwest Solved By Talkative Tree Rings." The 35-page article, penned in whimsical prose, was written by Andrew Douglass, the UA scientist who invented tree ring science. In addition to his work as an astronomer at the UA's Steward Observatory, Douglass was the first to discover that tree rings record time.
A decade after Douglass's big discovery, two Berkeley scientists took the first step towards an alternative way to date floating chronologies and indeed any other "once-living" thing. Also known as radiocarbon, carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon with an atomic nucleus of six protons and eight neutrons. They discovered its half-life, or the time it takes for its radioactivity to fall by half once the living thing dies, is 5,730 years (give or take 40).
It's unusually long and consistent half-life made it great for dating.
The Earth and our moon are both more than four-and-a-half billion years old.
Fifty, 20, or 100 years is a lot of time, wherein a lot can happen.
Fifty years is the difference between Alexander Graham Bell's telephone and television.
Willard Libby from the University of Chicago put it to the test.
By 1949, he had published a paper in Science showing that he had accurately dated samples with known ages, using radiocarbon dating.