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The first step toward accurately measuring geologic time came at the turn of the 20th century, when French physicist Henry Becquerel discovered the natural radioactive decay of uranium.

More recently, they have developed a number of new methods.

Some use radioactive isotopes; others take advantage of different phenomena, such as thermoluminescence and electron spin resonance.

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Geologists, paleontologists and archaeologists have pieced together a fairly detailed account of how Earth and its inhabitants evolved.

Uranium-lead dates for a single zircon crystal found in the oldest sedimentary rock yet known suggest that by 4.4 billion years ago our planet already had already cooled enough to have a crust.

The first life-forms may have been just around the corner.Still others, like amino acid racemization, show promise but have not yet taken wing.Now, nearly 100 years after Boltwood's groundbreaking work, it is estimated that Earth formed at least twice as long ago as he had claimed.We use cookies to make interactions with our website easy and meaningful, to better understand the use of our services, and to tailor advertising.For further information, including about cookie settings, please read our Cookie Policy .Uranium and lead isotopes take us back farther still.

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