[meteorite-list] Meteorites Used to Calculate Earth's Age

From: Richard Kuzma <rkuzma01_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:32:55 2004
Message-ID: <20040326.200524.3588.2.rkuzma01_at_juno.com>

For those who have an interest; I just came across a reference to the key
role meteorites played in determining the final (and currently accepted)
date for calculating the age of the earth. The source is a book titled
"The Man Who Found Time", by: Jack Repcheck (page 204). (The book is
about James Hutton, who advanced the first persuasive argument that the
Earth was older than the then accepted "biblically" calculated age.)

Briefly quoting the relevant portion of the text -

"The final breakthrough came in the 1950s, when Claire Patterson, of
Caltech, realized that the only way to get a completely accurate
measurement of common lead decay was to leave the planet.....focus[ed] on
objects ... [that] allowed for more accurate lead decay calculations -
meteorites. As Claire Patterson later related:

'Lead in iron meteorites was the kind of lead that was in the solar
system when it was first formed, and ... it was preserved in iron
meteorites without change from uranium decay, because there is no uranium
in iron meteorites....'

By 1956, Patterson had calculated the age of the earth to be 4.6 billion
Received on Fri 26 Mar 2004 09:05:23 PM PST

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