Attempts to calculate the age of the Earth from physical considerations yielded estimates that ranged from 75,000 years (Buffon, 1774) to several billion years (de Maillet, Buffon).
The physical models were open to question and, in retrospect, were naive. It became quite clear that many areas of the Earth had alternated between being land and being covered by seas, that there had been extensive slow sedimentation, that the mountains had not been created in situ as is but rather had a long history of slow deformation, and that long periods of erosion had shaped the Earth everywhere.
Thanks to Astronomy Notes reader Katie Cook for locating several of these resources.
If, in the year AD 1600, you had asked an educated European how old the planet Earth was and to recount its history he would have said that it was about 6000 years old and that its ancient history was given by the biblical account in Genesis.
By the end of the 18'th century it was clear that the Earth had a long and varied history. The major debate was between the catastrophists, e.g., Cuvier, who held that the history of Earth was dominated by major catastrophic revolutions and the uniformitarians, e.g.
In the 1700's belief in a 6000 year old Earth crumbled.The modern period has been marked by an enormous expansion of the detailed knowledge of the geological history of the Earth and the processes that have acted during that history.Many authors choose to present the history of a complex subject by breaking it up into major threads and following the history of each thread separately. This is an informational tour in which students gain a basic understanding of geologic time, the evidence for events in Earth’s history, relative and absolute dating techniques, and the significance of the Geologic Time Scale.I teach in a college located in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley of California.Founded in 2002 by Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, the Ph ET Interactive Simulations project at the University of Colorado Boulder creates free interactive math and science simulations.Ph ET sims are based on extensive education research and engage students through an intuitive, game-like environment where students learn through exploration and discovery. During the early part of this period there was a considerable amount of activity by runs from AD 1850 to the present.The great debate was won by the uniformitarians, so much so that the degree of gradualism was overstated and the importance of catastrophes was unduly minimized.In 1637 Descartes produced a cosmogony that was highly influential for more than a century. It was not in their estimates of the age of the Earth - Descartes retained the biblical date.Ussher accepted the Biblical account at face value, relying on the Biblical genealogies and on extant historical records.