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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.
Interweaving the relative time scale with the atomic time scale poses certain problems because only certain types of rocks, chiefly the igneous variety, can be dated directly by radiometric methods; but these rocks do not ordinarily contain fossils.
Some, like Robert Gentry, have even argued that Radio-halos from rapidly decaying radioactive isotopes in granite seem to indicate that the granites were formed almost instantly.
There is perhaps no beguilement more insidious and dangerous than an elaborate and elegant mathematical process built upon unfortified premises." - Chamberlain 1899b:224Following the discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel (1896), the possibility of using this phenomenon as a means for determining the age of uranium-bearing minerals was demonstrated by Rutherford (1906).
In other words, the decay rates show annual changes that closely reflect the Earth's distance from the Sun (see illustration).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.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.