Geology Reference
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clearly be after him. However, in November 1953 Patterson
attended another conference, this time in Toronto, and again
reported his age of the Earth results. There a reporter from
Chemical and Engineering News was in the audience and in the next
issue of that journal, circulated on November 23rd, headlines
proclaimed, 'Earth's Age: 4.6 Billion Years'. While not strictly
the publication of Patterson's results, since Patterson had not
written the article himself, it is clear evidence that Patterson
had presented his data to an audience of his peers before
Houtermans did. But whatever the arguments about the dates
of publication, since Patterson developed the techniques for
determining these extremely small amounts of lead and the
results had been determined by him, whereas Houtermans only
used the data, it is fitting that Claire Patterson's name goes
down in the history topics as the man who finally dated the true
age of the Earth. Wild miracle, finally achieved.
Only one question now remained.
What neither Houtermans nor Patterson had shown was
whether it was realistic to genetically relate the Earth to mete-
orites by assuming that primeval lead on Earth could be repre-
sented by that found in meteorites. If there was no genetic
relationship and the Earth and meteorites had not formed at the
same time from the same material, then the primeval lead of
meteorites would not be that of the Earth; thus there would be
no point in trying to determine the age of Earth from meteorites,
and everyone would be back to square one. It was something of
a Catch 22 situation: identical ages for the Earth and meteorites
indicated a strong genetic link, but the age could only be
confirmed if a genetic link was proven.
Patterson spent the next three years trying to prove the rela-
tionship and in 1956 he showed the world that the Earth and
meteorites did indeed have a common ancestry and that 'The
most accurate age of the earth is obtained by demonstrating
that the earth's uranium-lead system belongs to the array of
meteoritic uranium-lead system'. He had analysed the lead
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