Radiometric dating system
His result was in close agreement with his estimate of the age of the earth.The solar estimate was based on the idea that the energy supply for the solar radioactive flux is gravitational contraction.Based on these assumptions he at first suggested an age of the Earth of between 100 Ma and 500 Ma.This estimate was actually reduced over his lifetime to between 20 Ma and 40 Ma and eventually to less than 10 Ma. Perry, in particular, a noted physicists and former assistant to Kelvin, showed that cooling calculations using different but equally likely assumptions and data resulted in ages for the Earth of as much as 29 Ga.He believed this even though he did admit that some heat might be generated by the tidal forces or by chemical action.However, on the whole, he thought that these sources were not adequate to account for anything more than a small faction of the heat lost by the Earth.In short, the assumption that decay rates are immune to outside influences isn't as solid as it once appeared to be.However, if one does assume a constant decay rate, and if one starts with an originally pure sample of “parent element,” then the proportion of parent to daughter tells us the number of half-lives, which has been used to find the supposed age of igneous rocks. The conclusions of Renne and his team read as follows: Ar can be identified in volcanic sanidine, and while perhaps negligible in pre-Holocene rocks, it has important consequences for sample at the limit of the method’s applicability.
"The fascinating impressiveness of rigorous mathematical analyses, with its atmosphere of precision and elegance, should not blind us to the defects of the premises that condition the whole process.
There is perhaps no beguilement more insidious and dangerous than an elaborate and elegant mathematical process built upon unfortified premises." - Chamberlain 1899b:224Following the discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel (1896), the possibility of using this phenomenon as a means for determining the age of uranium-bearing minerals was demonstrated by Rutherford (1906).
One year later Boltwood (1907) developed the chemical U-Pb method. By combining Von Weizsacker’s argon abundance arguments with Kohlhorster’s observation that potassium emitted gamma-radiation, Bramley (1937) presented strong evidence that potassium underwent dual decay.
Later, after radioactivity had been proven to be a significant source of the Earth's internal heat, he did privately admit that he might have been in error.
What is especially telling about this whole story is the conclusion of the absolute truth of the conclusion based on premises that are weak, or at least not adequately demonstrated.