This just goes to show that just because independent estimates of age seem to agree with each other doesn’t mean that they’re correct – despite the fact that this particular argument is the very same one used to support the validity of radiometric dating today.
This week, Cherry Lewis of the University of Bristol presented a talk about the history of dating the Earth as part of the BA Festival of Science in York, England.
Before so-called radiometric dating, Earth's age was anybody's guess.
However, before this time some very popular indirect methods were available.
For example, Lord Kelvin had estimated the ages of both the Earth and the Sun based on cooling rates.
The answer of 25 million years deduced by Kelvin was not received favorably by geologists.
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.
Our planet was pegged at a youthful few thousand years old by Bible readers (by counting all the "begats" since Adam) as late as the end of the 19th century, with physicist Lord Kelvin providing another nascent estimate of 100 million years.
Kelvin defended this calculation throughout his life, even disputing Darwin's explanations of evolution as impossible in that time period.
was published, the earth was “scientifically” determined to be 100 million years old. In 1947, science firmly established that the earth was 3.4 billion years old.
Finally in 1976, it was discovered that the earth is “really” 4.6 billion years oldâ€¦ What happened?
This estimate was actually reduced over his lifetime to between 20 Ma and 40 Ma and eventually to less than 10 Ma. Perry, in particular, a noted physicists and former assistant to Kelvin, showed that cooling calculations using different but equally likely assumptions and data resulted in ages for the Earth of as much as 29 Ga.