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Moon Earth Space Science

Why the Moon's New Birthday Means the Earth Is Older Than We Thought 98

Posted by timothy
from the just-measure-the-depth-of-the-mold dept.
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes You're likely familiar with the theory of how the Moon formed: a stray body smashed into our young Earth, heating the planet and flinging debris into its orbit. That debris coalesced and formed the Moon. The impact theory still holds, but a team of geochemists from the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France has refined the date, finding that the Moon is about 60 million years older than we thought. As it turns out, that also means the Earth is 60 million years older than previously thought, which is a particularly cool finding considering just how hard it is to estimate the age of our planet.
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Why the Moon's New Birthday Means the Earth Is Older Than We Thought

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  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday June 16, 2014 @03:40AM (#47244151) Homepage Journal
    You're likely familiar with the theory of how the Moon formed: a stray body smashed into our young Earth, heating the planet and flinging debris into its orbit.

    Isn't that how human babies are made too?
    • by Artifakt (700173) on Monday June 16, 2014 @03:44AM (#47244163)

      Why am I not surprised that the first post to this thread is from someone who doesn't know where babies come from?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Is this a trick question?

      • by Nyder (754090)

        Why am I not surprised that the first post to this thread is from someone who doesn't know where babies come from?

        Exactly, everyone knows they come from storks.

        • by Z00L00K (682162)

          But the Fi-156 [wikipedia.org] is starting to be a rare bird these days!

          • by Tuidjy (321055)

            You'd think so, but I remember that in the early 90s, the Bulgarian Air Force School in Dolna Mitropolia was still flying them.

            Considering how great the country has been doing since, I doubt they have been replaced... and considering how long they have already lasted, I doubt they are no longer being maintained.

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          all those chicken-lovers have been banging the wrong bird??!!

        • by FatdogHaiku (978357) on Monday June 16, 2014 @10:05AM (#47245463)

          Why am I not surprised that the first post to this thread is from someone who doesn't know where babies come from?

          Exactly, everyone knows they come from storks.

          I was trying to explain that to a park employee the other day...
          he still made me let the stork go and pull my pants up...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I prefer to think of my coming-about as analogous to 2 blackholes doing the dance of their people, slowly swinging around each other, distorting the spacetime around them in the room as they go.
      Then eventually they smash together with intense energy and speed.
      Then 9 trillion years later I was born, a naked singularity in all his glory.
      Both my parents died during this birth-giving event.
      I shall avenge the death of my parents against Dr. Physics.
      I am the Dark Knight.

    • by Neil Boekend (1854906) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:26AM (#47244345)

      It has ceased to be customary to hit your date with a rock before mating. These days that is frowned upon.

      • These days, in some countries, other people hit your date with a rock after mating. History really doesn't change all that much.
      • by Shakrai (717556)

        It has ceased to be customary to hit your date with a rock before mating. These days that is frowned upon.

        Of course it's frowned upon. Why would you run the risk of a concussion when the far more effective and less physically harmful Ambien is readily available?

        Hooray for science!

      • by dbIII (701233)

        It has ceased to be customary to hit your date with a rock before mating.

        Whatever turns you on but it sounds like a pain in the arse to me:
        http://www.koalanet.com.au/australian-slang.html#D

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Curious that within two separate articles about the age of the earth, no estimate is given at all. The only mention of an actual age is given in a footnote to the sciencedaily article (which says the earth must be younger than ~4.6 billion years).

    • Re:Age of the earth (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Monday June 16, 2014 @03:54AM (#47244181) Homepage Journal

      apparently they're counting from the formation of the solar system, for which they don't have a year. previously had thought the earth to have formed 100 million years after that event but now they put it at 40.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Duh, it's 6,000 years old.
    • At least, thanks to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, we know that Earth is a Vega. Or has that theory been busted as well?
    • by Mikkeles (698461) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:37AM (#47244477)

      With what did the collision happen if the earth wasn't already there? I fail to see how the moon being carved out the earth 60 Myr earlier affects the age of the earth.

      • by Hategrin (3579025)
        This. I thought exactly the same thing. It's like, I have a 20 year old toaster, I made toast in it 4 years ago. So, that means it has to be a 24 year old toaster?
        • With what did the collision happen if the earth wasn't already there? I fail to see how the moon being carved out the earth 60 Myr earlier affects the age of the earth.

          This. I thought exactly the same thing. It's like, I have a 20 year old toaster, I made toast in it 4 years ago. So, that means it has to be a 24 year old toaster?

          From what I understand, the article should say that the earth could be up to 60 million years older than we thought. Because we do not know the exact time difference of the formation between the earth and the moon, we may still say it is 0 up to 60 millions years. If the earth and the moon have formed at the same time, then the earth is 60 million years older than we thought. If the earth had been there 60 million years or longer before the moon formed, then there is no change in the earth age.

        • by toddestan (632714)

          It's a bit more like the house has a toaster in it, and the wiring was upgraded to handle the current the toaster draws, which gives you a rough idea of how old the house must be because of how old the toaster is. Except now you discover that the upgraded wiring may have been done to power some other appliance before the toaster showed up.

          Maybe I should try a car analogy?

      • by coofercat (719737) on Monday June 16, 2014 @08:43AM (#47244927) Homepage Journal

        Day 0 - Our sun is puked into existence, with a shit-tonne of rubble floating around it.
        100 million years later, a big rock hits earth - thus earth must have been there, so we know earth was made on or before 100 million years after the sun. Previous measurements of our atmosphere from rocks suggests this to be true.

        French people look at all the observations, and saw that the calibrations were a bit off, and then worked out that collision took place 60 million years earlier than previously thought. Therefore, the earth must have formed 60 million years earlier than first thought, and been solid and "finished" enough to be able to produce the moon from the impact. That suggests the earth was formed in 40 million years, not 100 million years - that makes quite a difference to our understanding of how planets are formed. From the French perspective, this means the FSM didn't have as many RTT days in his contract as was previously thought, and possibly worked many of the days we now consider public holidays too.

      • Re:Age of the earth (Score:5, Interesting)

        by butalearner (1235200) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:16AM (#47245129)

        With what did the collision happen if the earth wasn't already there? I fail to see how the moon being carved out the earth 60 Myr earlier affects the age of the earth.

        I believe that conclusion comes from the idea that the collision was between two proto-planets - that is, for all intents and purposes, the Earth and the Moon only came into being after the collision. Wikipedia calls them "the proto-Earth" and "the impactor" which supposedly was the size of Mars. An impact like that would have changed everything so dramatically that even if we had some age-measurable material that survived the impact, we wouldn't know whether it came from the proto-Earth or the impactor. So it makes some sense to use that event as the "birth" of our planet.

        And of course you can't just use the absolute age of some atoms, if we could measure such a thing. Maybe some of the heavier atoms fused in that impact, but some material came the supernova(e) that seeded our solar nebula with heavier atoms and induced the rotation that eventually became the Sun's accretion disk, some came from other, smaller impacts of bodies probably formed at the beginning of the Solar System, etc.

    • Curious that within two separate articles about the age of the earth, no estimate is given at all. The only mention of an actual age is given in a footnote to the sciencedaily article (which says the earth must be younger than ~4.6 billion years).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]
      About 4,533 million years. So I'm guessing the new estimate would push it to ~4,593 million years.

      • Sorry for the reply to myself, but that number conflicts with the estimate for the formation of the sun given in Wikipedia (4.567 billion years, but looking at the references that estimate seems to be indirect).

  • Every1 knoes that the earth is 6000 years old! U MAD BRO?! Butthurt!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by louic (1841824)
      Yes of course. But these new findings show that it is 60 million years older than previously thought so it must be 60 million plus 6000 years.
    • by 91degrees (207121)
      As a devout Last Thursdayist, I think it obvious that the Earth, as well as the uiverse, my memories and a load of photons already in-flight, were created last Thursday.

      Teach the controversy!
    • Every1 knoes that the earth is 6000 years old! U MAD BRO?! Butthurt!

      As someone that's now considered "Middle aged" let me help you with your "young people" speech. "BRO" was a term that was cool, only to people in highschool about 5yrs ago. It was never cool to 99.9% of the world, but now, 5yrs later, it's not even cool to the people you used to say it to. After you left highschool it moved into the state of "Lets make fun of how we used to talk" but it's even past that now. It's not moved into the same territory as "Righteous" and "Square" you just don't even mention the w

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "which is a particularly cool finding considering just how hard it is to estimate the age of our planet."

    How would adding 60 million years to our current hard-to-estimate-estimate make that estimate any more accurate?

    Creationist: "It's 6000 years old!"

    Scientist: "It's 60 million years older!"

    Creationist: "Ok then, it's 60006000 years old!"

    • by peter303 (12292)
      Some isotopic ages are accurate to four decimal places. [wikipedia.org] Sixity million years is the third decimal place.

      The moon-out-Earth hypothesis is the predominate lunar creation hypothesis these days for several reasons. But an unusually old mineral on the Moon or Earth could void that hypothesis. thats part of the reason scientists are always checking.
  • by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:58AM (#47244403)

    Breaking news!
    Earth appears to be one year older (see 2014 paper) than previously thought (see 2013 paper).

  • It's all just part of the vast liberal conspiracy, supported by the left wing media, to drain money from the treasury. Everyone with a brain and a bible knows the earth is 6K years old.

  • But the earth is only 6,000 years old?!?

    An American congressman told me so, so it must be true.
  • by geekoid (135745)

    60 million years is nothing. Seriously, it's a narrowing of previous error bars.

    Cool, but don't get all excited like it changes anything.

  • by hduff (570443) <hoytduff@@@gmail...com> on Monday June 16, 2014 @11:51AM (#47246493) Homepage Journal

    Given all the extensive cosmic surgery.

    • by sconeu (64226)

      Interplanetary News Agency report:

      Today, Terra said, "Those damned paparazzi! How did they find my actual birth certficate!" When questioned, Luna (Terra's long time companion) had no comment.

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