Thomson published a series of works between and devoted to the determination of the age of the Earth. He assumed that the Earth formed in a liquid state, and then, it began to cool as heat radiated from its surface. Using the theory of heat conduction, he calculated the time required for the Earth to cool to its modern temperature. This hypothesis brought Thomson into dispute with the great naturalist Charles Darwin, who knew that the discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel in would resolve this dispute in the future.
American chemist Willard Libby developed the absolute radiocarbon dating method for organic subjects in , and he won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in for his work. Quickly, researchers realized that radioactive elements could work as natural clocks, as radioactive decay adheres to strict time patterns. The majority of evolutionists accept the current estimated age for the Earth and our solar system of 4. What is this based on? This estimate was derived from the ratios of various lead isotopes found in meteorites. Using this method, the oldest terrestrial rocks have been characterized as being 3.
Presently, scientists tend not to argue over the age of the Earth, largely as a result of the continued development of the radiometric dating method and elimination of some of its shortcomings. However, additional evidence is required in order to determine the age of the Earth accurately. This is because the radiometric method, which indicates an Earth age of 4.
In other words, it would be beneficial to determine the age of the Earth on a different basis. As is known from studies of million year old fossil corals, Earth years were days in duration during distant times. This fact was detected through analyses of the growth lines on the bodies of fossil corals, whereby every specific line represents a year, similar to the rings on a cut tree [ 7 , 8 ]. In the past, the Earth rotated faster than it does today.
We shall now turn to the physics of solid body rotation to study this phenomenon.
Age of the Earth
Let us consider the main categories of rotational movements and discuss the fundamental law of rotational motion dynamics. The moment of inertia of a body defines the inertia of that body with respect to rotational motion. The moment of inertia includes the impact of the angular acceleration of a body mass, its geometrical dimensions, location of the mass relative to the axis of rotation, and distribution of the mass in the volume of the body. Mass moment of inertia m located at a distance r from the axis is taken to be equal to.
The kinetic energy of a rotating body is equal to half the product of its moment of inertia and the square of the angular velocity as follows:. In accordance with the law of kinetic energy conservation, we can state that E 1 and E 2 , which means that. Where are the mass, radius, and angular velocity of the Earth million years ago and are the mass, radius, and angular velocity of the Earth today.
Assuming that mass m 1 m 1 is equal to or negligibly different from m 2 , i.
How Science Figured Out the Age of Earth - Scientific American
Thus, from equation 4 after canceling out masses m 1 and m 2 , we can obtain an analytical value for the radius of the Earth million years ago as follows:. Using the number of days in the year derived from ancient corals, we can determine the length of a day and the number of seconds in an Earth year million years ago. For the calculations, we shall use the sidereal day on Earth, which in the year was 23 h, 56 min, and 4. Let us call 1. Is there a more precise way to calculate the age of the Earth?
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Kant first proposed the idea of the secular slowing rotation of the Earth under the influence of tidal friction in Since then, the uneven rotation of the Earth and the motion of the poles have been monitored on a regular basis. Based on the analysis of hundreds of solar and lunar eclipses over the last years, Richard Stephenson from Durham University in the UK concluded that the terrestrial day is getting longer by almost 0. Naturally, such movement in the oceans and on the Earth causes frictional forces that slow the rotation of the planet.
It is estimated that because of this phenomenon, the duration of the day has lengthened by 0. Then, the evolutionary Earth growth constant by taking into account the moon braking value of s is as follows: We propose an empirically calculated time for the slowing rotation of the Earth due to the effect of the Moon, which is 0. The age of the Earth as determined through the use of radiological methods will be a measure of the reliability of our calculations. For clarity, the above calculations are summarized in Table 1. Can we state that the dating method described herein is purely nonradiological?
If we take into account equation 1 , and the following variables are used, namely, R for the average Earth radius and C for the evolutionary Earth growth constant, C amounts to 1. From this standpoint, the age of Earth calculation method can be considered as non-radiological. The main issue here is that to calculate C, ancient corals were used whose absolute age of million years was determined by radiological methods. However, this concern becomes insubstantial considering that coral annual rings and fundamental physics laws were used.
Now we turn to the idea of the growth of the Earth itself. Originating in the early twentieth century, the expanding Earth hypothesis has since been actively developed and has gained a number of supporters. However, much of the relevant research was considered obsolete after the development of plate tectonics theory in the —s.
Currently, a number of research papers support the following common view. The measurement accuracy of the NASA researchers data was high and of good quality. However, the experiment covered a period of time that is negligible in comparison to the age of the Earth. Therefore, it is possible that the growth of the Earth stabilized during the course of the experiment and it is too early to state that the theory of the growing Earth is false.
In fact, paleontological evidence suggests the opposite. According to Samuel Warren Carey, professor of geology at the University of Tasmania in Australia, the Earth was twice as small in diameter million years ago as it is now please note that according to our estimates, the radius of the Earth was Some people were carried away with the revolutionary novelty of his scientific credo-the presentation and justification of the concept of the expansion of the Earth-while others were spurred to further thinking on the subject; still others fiercely defend traditional views [ 16 ].
Professor Derek Ager, in the introduction to his presidential address in to the geology section of the British Association for Advancement of Science, wrote: The s witnessed an intense scientific debate about the effects on the Earth from gravitational tidal interactions of the Earth and Moon and the increased moment of inertia. Some of the objections to the concept of Earth expansion were raised on the following grounds: The total volume of seawater would submerge all lands to a depth of 2 km or more.
However, this approach to solving the problem is contrary to the physical laws of the conservation of energy, momentum, and angular momentum. Table 1 , line 3 shows the numerical values corresponding to calculations that consider the contributions of both of the two factors, and these values give an estimated age of the Earth of 4.
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This coincides with the results obtained by radiological methods. The evolutionary Earth growth constant was 1. So, on one metaphorical side of the scale, we place one factor, the law of conservation of moment of inertia, and on the other, we place lunar tidal friction.
The decision criterion can be a time scale that coincides with the radiometric dated age of the Earth. By assuming that the Earth and planets grow over time, we can logically ask the following basic questions: A single answer does not exist. There are a number of hypotheses; one of them is that the stars and planets arise from the surrounding space—the space vacuum. This follows from one of the theses put forth during the recent revolution in cosmology, namely, that the universe is dominated by a vacuum with an energy density greater than the density of all other forms of cosmic energy combined [ 17 ].
This theory has arisen from reliable observational data obtained by astronomers who have been studying distant supernovae [ 18 ]. What relationship exists between the world of the space vacuum and the solar system? As science progressed, these methods were proven to be unreliable; for instance, the rise and fall of the ocean was shown to be an ever-changing process rather than a gradually declining one. In an effort to calculate the age of the planet, scientists turned to the rocks that cover its surface. However, because plate tectonics constantly changes and revamps the crust, the first rocks have long since been recycled, melted down and reformed into new outcrops.
In the early 20th century, scientists refined the process of radiometric dating. Earlier research had shown that isotopes of some radioactive elements decay into other elements at rates that can be easily predicted. By examining the existing elements, scientists can calculate the initial quantity, and thus how long it took for the elements to decay, allowing them to determine the age of the rock. Rocks older than 3. Greenland boasts the Isua Supracrustal rocks 3. Samples in Western Australia run 3. Research groups in Australia found the oldest mineral grains on Earth.
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These tiny zirconium silicate crystals have ages that reach 4. Their source rocks have not yet been found. The rocks and zircons set a lower limit on the age of Earth of 4. In an effort to further refine the age of Earth, scientists began to look outward. The material that formed the solar system was a cloud of dust and gas that surrounded the young sun. Gravitational interactions coalesced this material into the planets and moons at roughly the same time. By studying other bodies in the solar system, scientists are able to find out more about the early history of the planet.
The nearest body to Earth, the moon , does not suffer from the resurfacing problems that cover Earth's landscape.
As such, rocks from early lunar history should be present on the moon. Samples returned from the Apollo and Luna missions revealed ages between 4. In addition to the large bodies of the solar system, scientists have also studied smaller rocky visitors to that fell to Earth. Meteorites spring from a variety of sources. Some are cast off from other planets after violent collisions, while others are leftover chunks from the early solar system that never grew large enough to form a cohesive body.
Although no rocks have been deliberately returned from Mars , samples exist in the form of meteorites that fell to Earth long ago, allowing scientists to make approximations about the age of rocks on the red planet.