The Dating Game: One Man's Search for the Age of the Earth

The Dating Game: One Man's Search for the Age of the Earth

by Cherry Lewis
     
 

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In this book, Cherry Lewis skilfully blends the history of gauging the age of the earth with a biography of Arthur Holmes, a British geologist who was a pioneer of geochronology. When it was deeply unfashionable to do so in the early twentieth century, he spent many years trying to prove the great antiquity of the earth, stating that it was 'perhaps a little

Overview

In this book, Cherry Lewis skilfully blends the history of gauging the age of the earth with a biography of Arthur Holmes, a British geologist who was a pioneer of geochronology. When it was deeply unfashionable to do so in the early twentieth century, he spent many years trying to prove the great antiquity of the earth, stating that it was 'perhaps a little indelicate to ask of our Mother Earth her age, but Science acknowledges no shame'. Both fascinating and touching, this book appeals to a broad readership of both geologists and science enthusiasts.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'… a gripping tale to tell … I would recommend it … to anyone who has the slightest interest in how our planet came to be the way it is.' John Gribbin, The Sunday Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lewis's sketch of Arthur Holmes's (1890-1965) life and work captures a fascinating period of scientific achievement and recovers the accomplishments of a neglected thinker. The young Holmes was enamored of natural history and geology. As an adolescent, he eagerly followed the debates over the age of the Earth between the leading but aged physicist Lord Kelvin and his opponents, much younger scientists using radioactivity for dating. By age 21, Holmes had engaged in numerous experiments, seeking to perfect uranium-lead dating for determining the ages of rocks. Soon he used his research to gauge the Earth's age, and at 23, he wrote a seminal work, The Age of the Earth, in which he argued that the planet was 1.6 billion years old, refuting Kelvin's earlier estimate of 20 million years; later Holmes dated the Earth at 3.35 billion years. Eventually, as a professor of geology at Edinburgh University, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of producing a geological time scale that ordered the temporal ages of the Earth from the Cambrian period to the Pleistocene epoch. In his 1944 (and still used) book, Principles of Physical Geology, Holmes detailed these ideas and also proposed a theory of continental drift that challenged the reigning idea of a onetime land bridge. In due time, Holmes's conclusions about the Earth's age and plate tectonics were accepted into the scientific canon, even though, as Lewis, a British petroleum scientist, argues, he seldom receives credit. Science fans will appreciate Lewis's fast-paced biography tracing the evolution of Holmes's genius, the often hostile and sometimes divisive character of the scientific community and the quest to discover the age of the Earth. 44 illus. (Dec.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Describes the efforts of English scientist Arthur Holmes (1890-1965) to develop a geological timescale that would lead to an accurate date for the age of the earth. Stories from his life are interwoven with an account of his 50-year struggle to convince the scientific establishment of an Earth of great antiquity. Lewis has a PhD in Tibetan granites and works in the oil industry. The volume is not indexed. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
While writing her doctoral thesis in geology at Bristol U., Lewis became fascinated with the man (pictured) who said in (1913): "It is perhaps a little indelicate to ask of our mother Earth her age, but Science acknowledges no shame." Holmes reconciled geological data with new findings from radioactivity. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781107659599
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
04/30/2012
Series:
Canto Classics
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 5.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Cherry Lewis has had a life-long passion for rocks and fossils. After Drama College and running her own business for several years, she finally decided to indulge her passion and studied geology as a mature student at Bristol University. Her degree was succeeded by a PhD on Tibetan granites and post-doctoral research at University College London, which led to a career in the oil industry. Whilst writing her thesis she discovered the work of Arthur Holmes and became captivated by the man who pioneered the way towards determining the true age of the Earth.

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