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."It can get us to within 20, 50, 100 years or so of dating accuracy." On the scale of the universe, 20, 50 or even 100 years is, for all intents and purposes, nothing. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is slightly younger, at 13.2 billion years old.The Earth and our moon are both more than four-and-a-half billion years old.In 1929, with a beam from Show Low, Arizona, Douglass was able to bridge the gap for the first time ever.Dates were assigned to Southwestern ruins with certainty.In other words, life in the universe moves inconceivably slowly.But for individual humans—and entire civilizations—it does not.
An Isotope Called Carbon-14 But alas, pattern-matching in order to date when a tree was cut isn't always possible.If a Bigtooth Maple were cut down on Mount Lemmon in 2016 and it had 400 rings, you would know the tree started growing in 1616. What if it's been used to build a home or a ship or a bonfire?The rings could still tell how many years the tree lived, but not necessarily when. He set out on a series of expeditions across the southwest to bridge the gap between contemporary wood and wood beams from the ruins of civilizations long gone.The first modern humans did not evolve in Africa until about 1.8 million years ago.The time between then and now is just a single tick on the universe's clock.