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How Old is the Earth
Roman poet Lucretius, intellectual heir to the Greek atomists, believed its formation must have been relatively recent, given that there were no records going back beyond the Trojan War. The Talmudic rabbis, Martin Luther and others used the biblical account to extrapolate back from known history and came up with rather similar estimates for when the earth came into being.
Within decades observation began overtaking such thinking. In the s Nicolas Steno formulated our modern concepts of deposition of horizontal strata. He inferred that where the layers are not horizontal, they must have been tilted since their deposition and noted that different strata contain different kinds of fossil.
A Premier Gallery of Fossils, Mineral and Meteorites including Dinosaur fossils, Dinosaur eggs, Dinosaur nests, Megaloceros skull, Mammoth bones, Bird Fossil, Dinosaur footprint, Psittacosaurus Dinosaur Skull, Meteorites, Fish fossils, Fossil teeth, fossil trees.
How do scientists find the age of planets date samples or planetary time relative age and absolute age? We have rocks from the Moon brought back , meteorites, and rocks that we know came from Mars. We can then use radioactive age dating in order to date the ages of the surfaces when the rocks first formed, i. We also have meteorites from asteroids and can date them, too.
These are the surfaces that we can get absolute ages for. For the others, one can only use relative age dating such as counting craters in order to estimate the age of the surface and the history of the surface. The biggest assumption is that, to first order, the number of asteroids and comets hitting the Earth and the Moon was the same as for Mercury, Venus, and Mars. There is a lot of evidence that this is true. The bottom line is that the more craters one sees, the older the surface is.
Why is it important to establish the age of a planet?
Relative dating Studies of strata , the layering of rocks and earth, gave naturalists an appreciation that Earth may have been through many changes during its existence. These layers often contained fossilized remains of unknown creatures, leading some to interpret a progression of organisms from layer to layer. Lomonosov’s ideas were mostly speculative.
In the Comte du Buffon tried to obtain a value for the age of Earth using an experiment:
G. Dalrymple has done a wonderful job in writing such a technical work on the history and direct data for the current estimate of the age of the Earth being Billion years old and the Universe being 7 – .
His calculations did not account for heat produced via radioactive decay a process then unknown to science or, more significantly, convection inside the Earth, which allows more heat to escape from the interior to warm rocks near the surface. For biologists, even million years seemed much too short to be plausible. In Darwin’s theory of evolution , the process of random heritable variation with cumulative selection requires great durations of time.
According to modern biology, the total evolutionary history from the beginning of life to today has taken place since 3. Huxley , attacked Thomson’s calculations, suggesting they appeared precise in themselves but were based on faulty assumptions. The physicist Hermann von Helmholtz in and astronomer Simon Newcomb in contributed their own calculations of 22 and 18 million years respectively to the debate: However, they assumed that the Sun was only glowing from the heat of its gravitational contraction.
The process of solar nuclear fusion was not yet known to science. In John Perry challenged Kelvin’s figure on the basis of his assumptions on conductivity, and Oliver Heaviside entered the dialogue, considering it “a vehicle to display the ability of his operator method to solve problems of astonishing complexity.
Charles Darwin ‘s son, the astronomer George H. Darwin , proposed that Earth and Moon had broken apart in their early days when they were both molten. He calculated the amount of time it would have taken for tidal friction to give Earth its current hour day. His value of 56 million years added additional evidence that Thomson was on the right track.
Geological time scale
Slowly and painstakingly, geologists have assembled this record into the generalized geologic time scale shown in Figure 1. This was done by observing the relative age sequence of rock units in a given area and determining, from stratigraphic relations, which rock units are younger, which are older, and what assemblages of fossils are contained in each unit. Using fossils to correlate from area to area, geologists have been able to work out a relative worldwide order of rock formations and to divide the rock record and geologic time into the eras, periods, and epochs shown in Figure 1.
Geological time scale. The vast expanse of geological time has been separated into eras, periods, and epochs. The numbers included below refer to the beginnings of the division in which the title appears.
Many experts suggested that iron tools from that period were created from meteorites, which would have set down the metal in an already-workable state on the Earth’s surface. That theory appeared to be logical as it explained the heavy presence of iron in objects before advanced smelting techniques had been developed. For that reason, Jambon decided to approach the issue geochemically with the use of a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, which permits one to differentiate terrestrial from extraterrestrial irons without damaging the object.
As New Atlas reports , iron meteorites often contain higher levels of nickel and cobalt than Earthly iron due to the tendency for nickel to drift towards the molten core of a planet. The few iron objects from the Bronze Age that were analyzed were found to have been created from meteoritic iron, as they had high levels of nickel and cobalt that lined up with those seen in iron meteorites. The Hoba meteorite is the largest known meteorite found on Earth, as well as the largest naturally-occurring mass of iron known to exist on the earth.
The meteorite, named after the Hoba West Farm in Grootfontein, Namibia where it was discovered in , has not been moved since it landed on Earth over 80, years ago. Public Domain Smelting Ended the Bronze Age Extraterrestrial Era Jambon also explained that this practice was abandoned during the Iron Age, when smelting became popular and people turned to working with terrestrial iron rocks, which were far more abundant and easier to find as New Atlas reports.
Additionally, Jambon suggests that the new study opens the door of tracking when and where exactly the first smelting operations took place, marking a new era. He also noted the immense significance of analytical methods for properly studying the evolution of the use of metals and metal working technologies in our past cultures. National Museum Wales The Precious Dagger of Tutankhamun Almost 18 months ago, a team of researchers confirmed that the iron in one of the daggers found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, as well as a number of other precious artifacts from ancient Egypt, had celestial origins as they were made from meteorites.
They were excited to announce that the meteoric iron in the blade of the knife from Tutankhamun’s tomb came from one of the many meteorites that has fallen in the desert, making it one of the most important discoveries in
How Science Figured Out the Age of Earth
Reference to a case where the given method did not work This is perhaps the most common objection of all. Creationists point to instances where a given method produced a result that is clearly wrong, and then argue that therefore all such dates may be ignored. Such an argument fails on two counts:
The question of the age of the earth has produced heated discussions on Internet debate boards, TV, radio, in classrooms, and in many churches, Christian colleges, and seminaries.
Methods of Dating the Age of Meteorites Meteorites are among the oldest objects we know about – formed about 4. But how do scientists know this? This article describes the principles and methods used to make that determination. There are well-known methods of finding the ages of some natural objects. Trees undergo spurts in growth in the spring and summer months while becoming somewhat dormant in the fall and winter months.
When a tree is cut down, these periods are exhibited in a cross section of the trunk in the form of rings. Simply counting the number of rings will give one a fairly good idea of the age of the tree. Periods of heavy rain and lots of sunshine will make larger gaps of growth in the rings, while periods of drought might make it difficult to count individual rings.
When determining the ages of very old objects, the only suitable clocks we have found involve the measurement of decay products of radioactive isotopes. Isotopes are atoms of the same element with different amounts of neutrons. Some isotopes are stable, whereas others are radioactive and decay into other components called daughter isotopes.
How Old is the Earth
We are able to determine the age of certain rocks and minerals using measurements of radioactive and radiogenic isotopes of certain elements. Simply put, the resulting date is the time that has passed from the crystallisation of that mineral. Obviously there are complexities, but there are not critical for this answer. Why do we use meteorites if they hit the Earth after its formation?
The Earth formed together with the rest of the Solar System and its meteorites around 4.
Gibeon Meteorite Facts, Information and Description: Since it was first discovered in in Great Namaqualand, Namibia, Africa, more than 25 tons of Gibeon meteorites have been recovered and although export and sale was banned by the Namibian government, it is still one of the most commonly available meteorites on the market today.
Several Christian ministries promote the idea that the earth is less than 10, years old, which they say comes from the Bible. In reality, the Bible makes no claim as to the age of the earth, although it does establish a minimum age. This page examines some of the history of the controversy—what the Bible actually says and does not say—and the scientific evidence surrounding the age of the earth.
Age of the earth according to the Bible The following is a summary of the biblical evidence presented on this website regarding the age of the earth. For more detailed explanations of each topic, please click on the associated link. History of the age of the earth As indicated earlier, the Bible does not fix the age of the earth, contrary to the claims of Answers in Genesis. Archbishop Ussher took the genealogies of Genesis, assuming they were complete, and calculated all the years to arrive at a date for the creation of the earth on Sunday, October 23, B.
There are a number of other assumptions implicit in the calculation.
University of Pisa A weapon as legendary as the dagger of King Tutankhamun needs an epic backstory, and last year X-ray analysis showed that the iron in the ancient blade had come from meteorites. Now, a French study has found that the artifact was far from alone as all iron tools dating back to the Bronze Age have otherworldly origins. Made by smelting copper and mixing it with tin, arsenic or other metals, bronze was durable and relatively easy to come by, and as such it remained the top choice until it was supplanted when the Iron Age began some 2, years later.
Meteorites, Meteors, and Meteoroids In space, drifting rocks smaller than an asteroid but larger than a molecule are called “meteoroids.” They are renamed “meteors” as they travel through Earth’s atmosphere, and “meteorites” if they hit the ground.
Radioactive decay[ edit ] Example of a radioactive decay chain from lead Pb to lead Pb. The final decay product, lead Pb , is stable and can no longer undergo spontaneous radioactive decay. All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements , each with its own atomic number , indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus.
Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes , with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus. A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. Some nuclides are inherently unstable.
Iron tools from the Bronze Age found to have otherworldly origins
The time data from radiometric dating is taken from that source. The times are in millions of years. For examples that cover most of these time periods, see the outline of the Grand Canyon and Grand Staircase. Active Graphic Some descriptive information about the different divisions of geologic time is given below. The brief outline below draws from that material and elsewhere to provide a brief sketch of Earth history.
The real heart of the age-of-the-earth debate (if “debate” is the right word) is always radiometric dating. There are lots of ways to guesstimate ages, and geologists knew the earth was old a long time ago (and I might add that they were mostly Christian creationist geologists). But they didn’t know how etric dating actually allows the measurement of absolute ages, and so it is.
The property of a European gentleman. Originally found in Western Sumatra at a depth of 40 m. Tennessee, Carboniferous Period, million years BP. The large stump of pleasing grey and ochre color with a relatively smooth surface in which the vesicles typical of the species are clearly visible. Shown at the University of Tennessee where it was identified and confirmed authentic by them.
Extremely rare complete Lepidodendron stump. Lepidondendrons were among the first large trees to appear on earth. These long extinct tall spore-bearing trees were related to modern club mosses. They stood in a dense, swampy forest million years ago contemporaneous with the first appearance of land animals. These Giant Club Moss trees somewhat resembled modern palms crowned with spiky fronds.
Age of the Universe
The fountains of the great deep launched rocks and muddy water into space. Consequently, many rocks, assisted by their mutual gravity and surrounding clouds of water vapor that produced aerobraking, merged to become asteroids. Isolated rocks in space are meteoroids.
The best age for the Earth ( Ga) is based on old, presumed single-stage leads coupled with the Pb ratios in troilite from iron meteorites, specifically the Canyon Diablo meteorite. In addition, mineral grains (zircon) with U-Pb ages of Ga have recently been reported .
The Radiometric Dating Game Radiometric dating methods estimate the age of rocks using calculations based on the decay rates of radioactive elements such as uranium, strontium, and potassium. On the surface, radiometric dating methods appear to give powerful support to the statement that life has existed on the earth for hundreds of millions, even billions, of years.
We are told that these methods are accurate to a few percent, and that there are many different methods. We are told that of all the radiometric dates that are measured, only a few percent are anomalous. This gives us the impression that all but a small percentage of the dates computed by radiometric methods agree with the assumed ages of the rocks in which they are found, and that all of these various methods almost always give ages that agree with each other to within a few percentage points.
Since there doesn’t seem to be any systematic error that could cause so many methods to agree with each other so often, it seems that there is no other rational conclusion than to accept these dates as accurate.