patterson earth dating

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Fragment of the Canyon Diablo iron meteorite. Patterson developed the uranium—lead dating method into lead—lead dating and, by using lead isotopic data from the Canyon Diablo meteoritehe calculated an age for the Earth of 4. He graduated from Grinnell College with a bachelor degree in chemistry in There, he met his future wife, Lorna McCleary. For graduate school, they both attended the University of Iowa, where he was patterson earth dating an M. Both were then sent to work on the Manhattan Project, first at the University of Chicago and then at Oak Ridge, Tennesseewhere he encountered mass spectrometry. After World War II, the Pattersons returned to Chicago, where his wife Lorna took a research job as an infrared spectroscopist to support Patterson while he worked for his Ph.

Before the time of Clair Patterson, many patterson earth dating from philosophers to scientists had been trying to determine the age of the Earth. Aristotle believed that the Earth always existed and always will exist. InLeonardo Da Vinci pondered fossil sea shells and concluded that they could not have been laid down by the Noachian flood spoken of in the Bible. Decades of observation and thinking passed, and more scientists began to try to figure out the age of the Earth. In the s, Nicolaus Steno became the first to state rules that connected information derived from fossil remains and strata, allowing him to concisely state the ideas of the law of superposition and the principle of original horizontality. These new principles lead to the thought that fossils could be used to chronologically order layers of rock. InComte de Buffon performed an experiment to determine the age of the Earth. His experiment involved melting rocks and then timing how long the rocks took to cool and solidify.

Nineteenth century geologists recognized that rocks formed slowly as mountains eroded and sediments settled on the ocean floor. But they could not say just how long such processes had taken, and thus how old their fossils were. He came up with that figure by estimating how long it had taken for the planet to cool down to its current temperature from its molten infancy.
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Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks. Clair Patterson was an energetic, innovative, determined scientist whose pioneering work stretched across an unusual number of sub-disciplines, including archeology, meteorology, oceanography, and environmental science—besides chemistry and geology. He is best known for his determination of the age of the Earth. That was possible only after he had spent some five years establishing methods patterson earth dating the separation and isotopic analysis of lead at microgram and sub-microgram levels. His techniques opened a new field in lead isotope geochemistry for terrestrial as well as for planetary studies. Whereas terrestrial lead isotope data had been based entirely on galena ore samples, isotopes could finally be measured on ordinary igneous rocks and sediments, greatly expanding the utility of the technique. While subsequently applying the methodology to ocean sediments, he came to the conclusion that the input of lead into the oceans was much greater than the removal of lead to sediments, because human activities were polluting the environment with unprecedented, possibly dangerous, levels of lead. Then followed years of study and debate involving him and other investigators and politicians over control of lead in the environment.

He later received his Ph. In collaboration with George Tilton , Patterson developed the uranium—lead dating method into lead—lead dating. By using lead isotopic data from the Canyon Diablo meteorite , he calculated an age for the Earth of 4. Patterson had first encountered lead contamination in the late s as a graduate student at the University of Chicago. His work on this subject led to a total re-evaluation of the growth in industrial lead concentrations in the atmosphere and the human body, and his subsequent campaigning was seminal in the banning of tetraethyllead in gasoline and lead solder in food cans. Clair Pat Patterson was born in Mitchellville, Iowa.
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