Rewards and Retributions
Experience never misleads; what you are misled
by is only your judgement.
Leonardo da Vinci
Progress on dating the age of the Earth was slow. Years, even
decades went by without any significant advance being made.
But science is like that. What is often not realised when the
breakthrough finally occurs is that for years previously a few
individuals had been diligently working in the background,
thinking and writing about the problems, quietly and persist-
ently pursuing their goal. Arthur Holmes was one. Every few
years he took it upon himself to write an article summarising
the current state of play with regard to the age of the Earth. In
simple and lucid language he explained to the scientist and lay-
man alike the history of radioactivity, its application to dating
minerals and the age of the Earth, and included any recent devel-
opments. Year after year he said much the same thing: Kelvin's
arguments were shot down in flames, the 'hour-glass' methods
were swept aside, and radioactivity emerged victorious. Slowly,
bit by bit, this one-man campaign spread the word about the
great antiquity of the age of the Earth.
He also continued to build up the database. As early as 1923 a
committee had been set up in America for 'The Measurement of
Geologic Time by Atomic Disintegration', its objectives being to