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The half-life is the amount of time it takes for one half of the initial amount of the parent, radioactive isotope, to decay to the daughter isotope.
Thus, if we start out with 1 gram of the parent isotope, after the passage of 1 half-life there will be 0.5 gram of the parent isotope left.
Radiocarbon dating (usually referred to simply as carbon-14 dating) is a radiometric dating method.
It uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 (14C) to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years old. Carbon-14 has a relatively short half-life of 5,730 years, meaning that the fraction of carbon-14 in a sample is halved over the course of 5,730 years due to radioactive decay to nitrogen-14.
Before Radiocarbon dating was able to be discovered, someone had to find the existence of the C isotope.
In 1940 Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben at the University of California, Berkeley Radiation Laboratory did just that.
Carbon dating has shown that the cloth was made between 12 AD.
The entire process of Radiocarbon dating depends on the decay of carbon-14.
This process begins when an organism is no longer able to exchange Carbon with their environment.
Emilio Segrè asserted in his autobiography that Enrico Fermi suggested the concept to Libby at a seminar in Chicago that year.
Libby estimated that the steady-state radioactivity concentration of exchangeable carbon-14 would be about 14 disintegrations per minute (dpm) per gram.