Geology Reference
In-Depth Information
appointment he wrote a note that was both congratulatory and
consoling to Bob: 'Allow me to cheer three times three. You
have done just as well as you deserve. Your salary is not
princely, but living at home and with half time for research
it's not at all bad - and I should say you'll find yourself quite
independent, though only in ordinary economics of course.'
Back in London it had been much the same for Holmes. At
Imperial College he too was o¬ered a demonstrator post on a
salary of £100 year, and despite having told Bob while in
Mozambique 'I'm afraid this life is spoiling me for anything
again like my old struggle against poverty. I feel much more
on the £1,000 a year scale of living' , he nevertheless settled
down 'to normal ideas again after a week or two at home.'
Immediately on his return from Mozambique, Holmes had
decided to write a small book on The Age of the Earth . With frus-
tration mounting at the entrenched attitudes of established geol-
ogists, he wanted to explain to them, and tell the world at large,
about radioactivity and his ideas for a geological time scale. At
the same time he admitted that confidence in pioneer work in
radioactive dating 'has been shaken by the advocates of the
geological methods of attack. The surprises which radioactiv-
ity had in store for us have not always been received as hos-
pitably as they deserved. With the advent of radium geologists
were put under a great obligation, for the old controversy [with
Kelvin] was settled overwhelmingly in their favour. But the
pendulum has swung too far, and many geologists feel it
impossible to accept what they consider the excessive periods
of time which seem to be inferred.'
With his enthusiasm and convictions tempered by a fear that
there might still be something in the hour-glass methods, he
took pains to review all the facts for the benefit of his readers,
but still concluded that 'the uncertainties [of the hour-glass
methods] are too many and too great' . Having then reviewed
all the evidence in favour of radioactive methods, he warmed to
his theme: 'As yet it is a meagre record, but, nevertheless, a
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