Quaternary geology provides a record of climate change and geologically recent changes in environment.
Willard Libby and his colleague Ernest Anderson showed that collected from sewage works had measurable radiocarbon activity whereas methane produced from petroleum did not.
Perseverance over three years of secret research to develop the radiocarbon method came into fruition and in 1960 Libby received the Nobel Prize for chemistry for turning his vision into an invaluable tool.
The original atom is referred to as the parent and the following decay products are referred to as the daughter.
For example: after the it forms a component of all organic compounds and is therefore fundamental to life. Libby of the University of Chicago predicted the existence of carbon-14 before it was actually detected and formulated a hypothesis that radiocarbon might exist in living matter.
When Rutherford announced his findings it soon became clear that Earth is millions of years old.