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The Chronologers' Quest: The Search for the Age of the Earth

By: Patrick N Wyse Jackson

291 pages, 24 line diagrams, 31 half-tones

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Aug 2006 | #160614 | ISBN: 0521813328
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £35.99 $50/€41 approx

About this book

The debate over the age of the Earth has been ongoing for over two thousand years, and has pitted physicists and astronomers against biologists, religious philosophers against geologists. The Chronologers' Quest tells the fascinating story of our attempts to determine the age of the Earth. This book investigates the many novel methods used in the search for the Earth's age, from James Ussher and John Lightfoot examining biblical chronologies, Comte de Buffon and Lord Kelvin determining the length of time for the cooling of the Earth, to the more recent investigations of Arthur Holmes and Clair Patterson into radioactive dating of rocks and meteorites.

The Chronologers' Quest is a readable account of the measurement of geological time. It will be of great interest to a wide range of readers, from those with little scientific background, to students and scientists in a wide range of the earth sciences.

...interesting and accessible to a general audience ... Jackson lays out the information clearly and chronologically, making it an excellent resource for researchers. Sky & Telescope


List of illustrations; List of tables; Preface; Acknowldegements; 1. The ancients: early chronologies; 2. Biblical calculations; 3. Models of Aristolean infinity and Sacred theories of the Earth; 4. Falling stones, salty oceans, and evaporating waters: early empirical measurements of the age of the Earth; 5. Thinking in layers: early ideas in stratigraphy; 6. An infinite and cyclical Earth and religious orthodoxy; 7. The cooling Earth; 8. Stratigraphic laws, uniformitarianism and the development of the geological column; 9. 'Formed stones' and their subsequent role in biostratigraphy and evolutionary theory; 10. The hour-glass of accumulated or denuded sediments; 11. Thermodynamics and the cooling Earth revisited; 12. Oceanic salination reconsidered; 13. Radioactivity: invisible geochronometers; 14. The universal problem and duck soup; Sources; Index.

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Patrick Wyse Jackson is a lecturer in Geology and curator of the Geological Museum in Trinity College, Dublin, and is a member of the International Commission on the History of Geology.

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