Geology Reference
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The Age of the Earth
If one is su~ciently lavish with time, everything
possible happens.
Back in 1913 Arthur Holmes, then a young man of twenty-three,
had just published his first book on The Age of the Earth . While
writing it he had come across a theory with regard to formation
of the Earth recently put forward by an American geologist,
Thomas Chamberlin, who considered that the Earth had been
created by the accumulation of cold solid particles which
Chamberlin called 'planetesimals'. In Holmes' mind the most
important feature of the Planetesimal Hypothesis was that
Chamberlin rejected the assumption shared by Kelvin and other
scientists that the Earth had begun as a molten globe. Instead,
Chamberlin proposed that although heat would initially be
generated by planetesimals falling into the Earth as it consoli-
dated, during the later stages that heat would be dissipated into
space leaving the Earth a cold and solid body. The particular
attraction of this theory for Holmes was that it discredited
Kelvin's arguments in favour of a cooling globe and a very
restricted geological time scale.
Thrilled that someone else shared his views of an ancient
Earth, Holmes wrote to Chamberlin in 1912 to tell him 'how
much your work on cosmogenic geology and causal processes
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