Research has been ongoing since the 1960s to determine what the proportion of in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years.
Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.
A form of radiometric dating used to determine the age of organic remains in ancient objects, such as archaeological specimens, on the basis of the half-life of carbon-14 and a comparison between the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in a sample of the remains to the known ratio in living organisms. A technique for measuring the age of organic remains based on the rate of decay of carbon 14.
The carbon 14 present in an organism at the time of its death decays at a steady rate, and so the age of the remains can be calculated from the amount of carbon 14 that is left. The cells of all living things contain carbon atoms that they take in from their environment.
In 1960, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work.
He first demonstrated the accuracy of radiocarbon dating by accurately estimating the age of wood from an ancient Egyptian royal barge of which the age was known from historical documents.