Radioactive dating age of earth
Harlow Shapley, who wrote an article in 1919 on the subject, was an astronomer, responsible for the detection of the redshift in distant nebulae and hence, indirectly, for our present concept of an expanding universe. Russell, author of the 1921 article on radioactive dating, was familiar to me for his part in developing the Hetzsprung-Russell diagram for stars, but I was surprised to discover that he was also the Russell of Russell-Saunders coupling, important in atomic structure theory. The prologue to the drama is the mid-19th century recognition of the relation between heat and other kinds of energy (see the 1857 article “Source of the Sun’s Heat”). 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.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.
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