Numerical absolute geologic age dating

From this observation, Hutton believed the Earth to be millions of years old, not just a few thousand years old, as Bishop Ussher believed.

James Hutton is often called the father of modern geology.

Ussher said that Earth must have been created in October of the year 4004 B. His biblical chronology of Earth's history was widely accepted in the Judeo-Christian Western world for nearly a century and is still accepted by some today who believe a literal interpretation of the Bible’s creation account.

(Other believers of the Bible accept it as scripture but assert that the word "day" should not be interpreted as the 24 hours we define it as now, but instead as a creative James Hutton, who lived from 1726 to 1797, and who you learned about in the previous section, presented the law of uniformitarianism, which is that the laws of nature do not change with time and that the rates at which things happen on Earth today are the same as they were in the past.

Later, the British physicist Lord Rutherford became the first to suggest that principles of radioactive decay could be used to date Earth and geologic events.After the work of Hutton and Lyell, numerous scientists attempted to assign an age to Earth.Early attempts included estimates based on how long it would take for the oceans to become salty (about 100 million years) or how long it would take to accumulate the known thicknesses of fossil-bearing sedimentary rock layers (about 500 million years).In 1956, American geologist Clair Patterson used uranium-lead dating of the Canyon Diablo meteorite, shown here, to calculate that it was 4.6 billion years old.The meteorite is a fragment of an asteroid that hit modern-day Arizona about 500,000 years ago.

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, a scientific text that supported the work of Hutton and advanced the idea of uniformitarianism.

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