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Willard Libby



Willard Frank Libby
BornDecember 17, 1908
Grand Valley, Colorado, Colorado
DiedSeptember 8 1980 (aged 71)
Cambridge, England
ResidenceUnited States
NationalityAmerican
FieldRadioactivity
InstitutionsColumbia University
University of Chicago
University of California, Los Angeles
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Princeton University
Known forRadiocarbon dating
Notable prizes Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1960)

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.

Additional recommended knowledge

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.

In 1945 he became a professor at the University of Chicago. In 1954, he was appointed to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. In 1959, he became Professor of Chemistry at University of California, Los Angeles, a position he held until his retirement in 1976. He taught honors freshman chemistry from 1959 to 1963 (in keeping with a University tradition that senior faculty teach this class). He was Director of the University of California statewide Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) for many years including the lunar landing time. In 1966 he married Leona Woods Marshall, an original experimentor on the world's first nuclear reactor and a UCLA professor of environmental engineering. He also started the first Environmental Engineering program at UCLA in 1972.

In 1960, Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for leading the team (namely, post-doc James Arnold and graduate student Ernie Anderson, with a $5,000 grant) that developed Carbon-14 dating. He also discovered that tritium could be used for dating water, and therefore wine.

He attended Analy High School in Sebastopol, CA. The school library has a mural of Libby, and a nearby highway is named in his honor.

Works

  • Libby, Willard F., Radiocarbon dating, 2d ed., University of Chicago Press, 1955.
Awards
Preceded by
Dwight Eisenhower
Time's Men of the Year(Alongside Linus Pauling, Isidor Rabi, Edward Teller, Joshua Lederberg, Donald A. Glaser, Robert Woodward, Charles Draper, William Shockley, Emilio Segrè, John Enders, Charles Townes, George Beadle, James Van Allen and Edward Purcell representing U.S. Scientists)
1960
Succeeded by
John F. Kennedy
Preceded by
Jaroslav Heyrovský
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
1960
Succeeded by
Melvin Calvin

 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Willard_Libby". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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