Value of potassium argon dating to geologists

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Chamberlain (1899) pointed out that Kelvin's calculations were only as good as the assumptions on which they were based.

"The fascinating impressiveness of rigorous mathematical analyses, with its atmosphere of precision and elegance, should not blind us to the defects of the premises that condition the whole process.

Both the physical geologists and paleontologists could point to evidence that much more time was needed to produce what they saw in the stratigraphic and fossil records.

As one answer to his critics, Kelvin produced a completely independent estimate -- this time for the age of the Sun.

Without this knowledge, he argued that, "As for the future, we may say, with equal certainty, that inhabitants of the Earth cannot continue to enjoy the light and heat essential to their life, for many million years longer, unless sources now unknown to us are prepared in the great storehouse of creation."The same is true of the basis of Kelvin's estimate of the age of the Earth.

It was based on the idea that no significant source of novel heat energy was affecting the Earth.

Of course, this was a close as Kelvin ever came to publicly recanting his position.

Later, after radioactivity had been proven to be a significant source of the Earth's internal heat, he did privately admit that he might have been in error.

What is especially telling about this whole story is the conclusion of the absolute truth of the conclusion based on premises that are weak, or at least not adequately demonstrated.

Potassium - Argon and Argon - Argon dating are based on the current understanding that radioactive Potassium-40 decays to the stable form, Argon-40 with a half-life of approximately 1.25 billion years.

There are some circumstances that can affect this rate such as magnetic fluctuations etc...

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