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This was a challenge to the traditional view, which saw the history of Earth as static, He assumed that Earth had formed as a completely molten object, and determined the amount of time it would take for the near-surface to cool to its present temperature.His calculations did not account for heat produced via radioactive decay (a process then unknown to science) or, more significantly, convection inside the Earth, which allows more heat to escape from the interior to warm rocks near the surface.In 1895 John Perry challenged Kelvin's figure on the basis of his assumptions on conductivity, and Oliver Heaviside entered the dialogue, considering it "a vehicle to display the ability of his operator method to solve problems of astonishing complexity." Other scientists backed up Thomson's figures. Darwin, proposed that Earth and Moon had broken apart in their early days when they were both molten.He calculated the amount of time it would have taken for tidal friction to give Earth its current 24-hour day.His value of 56 million years added additional evidence that Thomson was on the right track.By their chemical nature, rock minerals contain certain elements and not others; but in rocks containing radioactive isotopes, the process of radioactive decay generates exotic elements over time.These had assumed that the original heat of the Earth and Sun had dissipated steadily into space, but radioactive decay meant that this heat had been continually replenished.
This led him to estimate that Earth was about 75,000 years old.
After Henri Becquerel's initial discovery in 1896, Marie and Pierre Curie discovered the radioactive elements polonium and radium in 1898; and in 1903, Pierre Curie and Albert Laborde announced that radium produces enough heat to melt its own weight in ice in less than an hour.
Geologists quickly realized that this upset the assumptions underlying most calculations of the age of Earth.
Studies of strata, the layering of rocks and earth, gave naturalists an appreciation that Earth may have been through many changes during its existence.
These layers often contained fossilized remains of unknown creatures, leading some to interpret a progression of organisms from layer to layer.