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Willard Libby
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    (December 17, 1908-September 8, 1980)
    Born in Grand Valley, California
    Physical chemist
    Developed carbon-14 dating (1947)
    Member of the Atomic Energy Commission (1954-59)
    Won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1960)
    His attitude towards nuclear weapons was 'Let's build them as big as we can, and build all we can. Then war will become inconceivable.'
    He tried to demonstrate that protection from a nuclear attack could be had for as little as $30 by building a backyard fallout shelter from sandbags, plastic sheeting and two-by-fours.
    A week later, it (and his home) burned up in a brush fire, making you wonder how well it would have stood up to nukes.
    Leo Szilard said about the fire, 'This proves not only that there is a God, but He has a sense of humor.'
    He put himself through college by building crates for fruit packers.
    His development of carbon-14 dating revolutionized archaeology.
    One of the scientists nominating him for the Nobel Prize noted, 'Seldom has a single discovery in chemistry had such an impact on the thinking in so many fields of human endeavor. Seldom has a single discovery generated such wide public interest.'
    Young-Earth Creationist go through amusing contortions in an attempt to discredit him, usually by misapplying the carbon-14 dating technique and getting a ludicrous result. (Which does not invalidate carbon-14 so much as provide evidence for a different scientific theory: 'Garbage in, garbage out.')

Credit: C. Fishel

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