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This measurement seems to hinge on the fact that we that the rock was originally 100% carbon-14.
It goes without saying that this is a significant deviance.
When we date something based of radioactive decay, we rely on some mecahanism that sets the ratio of isotopes to some predetermined value.
In the case of living organisms, there is a constant ratio of Carbon-14 to Carbon-12 in the environement, and this is because carbon-14 is constantly created anew by cosmic radiation impacting on nitrogen-14 (I can imagine there might be variations to take into account as historic cosmic ratiation levels would vary).
Once a living thing dies, it cannot take up any fresh carbon-14, so the carbon-14 that is contained within its body will decay, and will not be renewed.
It was discovered in 1934 by Grosse as an unknown activity in the mineral endialyte. This half life has later been re-determined by Godwin. Libby recognized that due to its occurrence in natural materials, either by simple mixing processes or by carbon exchange.
In the same year, Kurie (Yale) exposed nitrogen to fast neutrons and observed long tracks in a bubble chamber. The mean life time of roughly 8000 years is ideal for dating of reservoirs that are a few decades to a few ten thousand yeas old.