Is the Earth really much younger than previously thought?

You’ll probably wonder why I might be writing something about the age of the Earth here.

I’ll explain below.

But I couldn’t help noticing this headline on the Telegraph website yesterday:

Earth is much younger than previously thought“.

Hmm – that sounds interesting, I thought. Maybe the earth’s not 4 billion years old – maybe it’s only 2 or 3 billion, or something like that that you might, in ordinary language, describe as ‘much younger’. So, my attention grabbed, I looked at the article only to find on the final line of the piece that a new study has found that the estimated age of the Earth is ‘only’ 4,467,000 million years, not 4,537,000 years old.

That is, the new estimated age of the earth 98.5% of the previous estimate. That’s a bit younger then – not ‘much younger’. I’m sure I can almost hear his sigh of resignation as the lead scientist on this, Dr John Rudge, plays along with the silly spin which is so often the price of getting research noticed in the press, in the remark:

We estimate that makes it about 4.467 billion years old – a mere youngster compared with the 4.537 billion-year-old planet we had previously imagined.

Anyway, what’s this got to do with ponds?

Well, one of the most interesting thing about ponds is how long they’ve been around – as far as we can tell, probably pretty much since the year dot (whenever that actually turns out to be). In fact the oldest concrete evidence of ponds I’m aware of is in Torridonian sandstones which are some 1 billion years old. These sedimentary rocks show evidence of water created depressions, so there must have been ponds. But probably well before that there were ponds – indeed it seems likely that as long as there has been land and water, there have been ponds.

And that matters because it shows that ponds, far from being the artificial man-made environments they are often assumed to be, have been around as a natural environment for billions of years.

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2 Responses to “Is the Earth really much younger than previously thought?”

  1. Kevin Warhus Says:

    How did such ponds survive without the modern pumps and accessories that i need to barely keep my pond alive today? lol

  2. Jeremy Biggs Says:

    Good question!

    Jeremy

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