How The Discovery Of Geologic Time Changed Our View Of The World

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Shogun, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. Shogun
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    Science Daily — In 1911 the discovery that the world was billions of years old changed our view of the world for ever.

    Imagine trying to understand history without any dates. You know, for example, that the First World War came before the Second World War, but how long before? Was it tens, hundreds or even thousands of years before? In certain situations, before radiometric dating, there was no way of knowing.

    By the end of the 19th century, many geologists still believed the age of the Earth to be a few thousand years old, as indicated by the Bible, while others considered it to be around 100 million years old, in line with calculations made by Lord Kelvin, the most prestigious physicist of his day.

    Dr Cherry Lewis, University of Bristol, UK, said: "The age of the Earth was hugely important for people like Darwin who needed enormous amounts of time in which evolution could occur. As Thomas Huxley, Darwin's chief advocate said: 'Biology takes its time from Geology'."

    In 1898 Marie Curie discovered the phenomenon of radioactivity and by 1904 Ernest Rutherford, a physicist working in Britain, realised that the process of radioactive decay could be harnessed to date rocks.

    It was against this background of dramatic and exciting scientific discoveries that a young Arthur Holmes (1890-1964) completed his schooling and won a scholarship to study physics at the Royal College of Science in London. There he developed the technique of dating rocks using the uranium-lead method and from the age of his oldest rock discovered that the Earth was at least 1.6 billion years old (1,600 million).

    But geologists were not as happy with the new results as, perhaps, they should have been. As Holmes, writing in Nature in 1913, put it: "the geologist who ten years ago was embarrassed by the shortness of time allowed to him for the evolution of the Earth's crust, is still more embarrassed with the superabundance with which he is now confronted". It continued to be hotly debated for decades.

    Cherry Lewis commented, "In the 1920s, as the age of the Earth crept up towards 3 billion years, this took it beyond the age of the Universe, then calculated to be only 1.8 billion years old. It was not until the 1950s that the age of the Universe was finally revised and put safely beyond the age of the Earth, which had at last reached its true age of 4.56 billion years. Physicists suddenly gained a new respect for geologists!"

    In the 1920s the new theory of continental drift became the great scientific conundrum, and most geologists were unable to accept the concept due to the lack of a mechanism for driving the continents around the globe.

    In 1928 Arthur Holmes showed how convection currents in the substratum (now called the mantle) underlying the continents could be this mechanism. This proved to be correct but it was another 40 years before his theories were accepted and the theory of plate tectonics became a reality.

    The theory of plate tectonics has proved to be as important as the theory of evolution and the discovery of the structure of the atom, but without the discovery of how to quantify geologic time, confirmation of plate tectonics would not have been possible.

    Today, few discussions in geology can occur without reference to geologic time and plate tectonics. They are both integral to our way of thinking about the world. Holmes died in 1964 having lived just long enough to see sea floor spreading confirm his ideas of continental drift.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070913081021.htm
     
  2. jillian
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    And still there are people trying to teach that the world is less than 6,000 years old. :eusa_silenced:
     
  3. Shogun
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    Indeed
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Diuretic
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    Whoa, look at the Cascades...and there I was wandering around there completely oblivious of the danger, just checking out the scenery and the little towns there...I coulda been blown to smithereens :D
     
  5. RetiredGySgt
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    Just like there are people teaching that in 100 years we will al be dieing of heat stroke. Unfortunately for us more people believe that fable. Few people actually belief the earth is 6000 years old ( only). Those that do are easily dismissed.

    Those that think man is causing a massive heat raise, they are the ones we should be worried about. The Science doesn't support their "religion" so they are busy making up a heat rise that they can not prove or even guess to be right. In fact some would tell you the heat raise of a quick sort ( 1/3 of a degree) ended in 1998. Further they would point to the fact that now a days any claim to rising heat is actually all guess work factored in over no existant real temperature rises with estimates we are not allowed to even know how they were derived.
     
  6. Diuretic
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    Some fable. Where I am we're coming to grips with the fact that the drought we have had for a few years is now permanent and that the water restrictions we have to put up with are permanent also. And our farmers in some of the cereal-producing areas here have lost much of their crop due to unseasonal early warm weather. Again they've been told to get used to it.

    Climate change is no fable. It's real, it's here now and we'd better do something about dealing with it.
     
  7. RetiredGySgt
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    Sure thing, cause man is so good at changing Mother Nature. We are in a warming trend, but there is little evidence it is caused by man nor that man can do anything about it. Once again, the rising in temperature has been no greater than expected. only 1 degree in 100 years. The only concern was that 1/3 of that occurred in a burst of about 15 to 20 years.

    Once again no evidence exists that man caused it, nor that in 100 years there will be a drastic rise in temperatures. In fact it appears the rapid rise has stopped, with no significant rise since 1998.

    Get used to it, it is nature at work.
     
  8. Shogun
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    Sahara Desert Was Once Lush and Populated
    http://www.livescience.com/history/060720_sahara_rains.html



    While I agree that there are cycles that man has nothing to do with I will also remind you man'sbehaviour does have in impact on their surroundings...


    my rides through chernobyl area
    http://www.kiddofspeed.com/



    plus, All I was going for anyway was to see someone admit:

    Few people actually belief the earth is 6000 years old ( only). Those that do are easily dismissed.
     
  9. Vintij
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    It may be by chance, but everyone knows that the tiny geological blink of an eye known as the "industrial revolution" has aligned itself with the rise in long term compartitive temperature. Its one thing to say that our technology can not prove that anthropogenic global warming does exist, but it is another to say that there is no evidence or even a reason to believe that man could have an effect on the climate. That would be incorrect in two ways.

    number one, to say there is no evidence is false. Look at simple temperature trends over the past 200 years and mark down where the industrial revolution begins. It is not hard evidence but it is at least observable data.

    Number two, if technology is not advanced enough to measure the ionosphere accurately, then nobody can claim an argument for or against man made climate change beyond the observation of statistically inconclusive temperature data.
     
  10. Diuretic
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    The dismissive attitude of the naysayers, which arises from a simple ideology rather than any rational thought, is annoying. I mean it's not as if we're discussing something trivial here. This is nothing less than the future we're on about. The evidence is right there but still the deniers are mouthing the slogans they've learned from their oracles.

    Yet many of these same deniers are quick to round on us atheists with the, "just you wait until you face God" argument, the one that says we'll be mightly disappointed to end up in Hell because we didn't/wouldn't/couldn't believe. That got me thinking, why don't the climate change maysayers subscribe to a sort of Pascal's Wager?

    If we ignore the scientific evidence of global climate change we could destroy the planet for our descendants.

    If we do something about it we can ensure the planet is healthy for our descendants.

    If doing something about it require some small sacrifices now then we should be prepared to make those sacrifices.

    On balance we should do something about it because I we do nothing we're probably going to screw it up.
     

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