For an explanation, see the main splats page
SPLATS about the age of the Earth
The principles of the age of the Earth
- Around 1640, Bishop James Ussher, using traditional ages and dates found in the Old Testament, calculated that the world began at noon on October 23, 4004 BC.
- In calculating that the world was created in 4004 BC, James Ussher was merely repeating a view widely held before his time, but with rather greater precision.
- William Shakespeare, who died in 1616, reflected this view when he wrote in 'As You Like It', the line: "The poor world is almost six thousand years old . . ."
- Jean-Baptiste Fourier argued that the earth's central heat was clearly revealed in higher temperatures observed deep in mines and by volcanic activity.
- Fourier explained the earth's observed central heat by assuming the whole earth was once hot, and that the temperature of the earth was now falling.
- In 1830, Charles Lyell began to publish his Principles of geology. In this, he proposed the revolutionary argument that the Earth is several million years old.
- In 1846, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin ) wrongly estimated the Earth to be 100 million years old, based on heat calculations, assuming no internal heat source.
- In 1862, Lord Kelvin estimated the age of the Earth, from its cooling time to be between 20 and 400 million years. Again, he assumed no internal heat sources.
- In 1892, Sir Robert Ball gave the world about four or five million years more to go before it ended when the Sun used up all its energy, after 18 million years.
- In 1903, George Darwin and John Joly suggested that radioactivity might warm the Earth, making the earth potentially much older than previously thought.
- In 1904, Ernest Rutherford suggested the age of Earth might be longer than previously assumed on cooling estimates, due to internal heating by radioactivity.
- In 1907, Bertram Borden Boltwood first proposed the use of radioactivity to date minerals, and offered dates for some rocks of 410 - 2200 million years.
- By 1931, on the basis of assorted radioactivity and geological data, the age of the earth was now considered to be at least two billion years.
- In 1954, a revised estimate, based on the best information, put the earth at 5 to 6 billion years, while estimates these days are more like 4.5 billion years.
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