Misconceptions  Day 2


This Big Idea is loaded with misconceptions for many people.  The central issue is sometimes called DEEP TIME.  The fact that deep time wasn’t perceived by people held back geological thinking. Once geologists realized that earth history is billions of years long, it is possible to conceive of processes and changes that are inexorable and which clearly fit once a long time scale is accepted.  A simple example is “Rivers cut their own valleys”  This idea cannot be reconciled with only a few years, because erosion, even during floods, is too slow.  But once the time scale is lengthened--all makes sense.

A second set of misconceptions that haunt this big idea is radioactivity and radioactive dating. All rocks are radioactive naturally, containing radioactive isotopes left over from nuclear synthetic events like the BIG BANG. It is not only nearly impossible to stop this spontaneous radioactivity---it is impossible to change the RATE of its decay. So scientists use this as a clock to quantify deep time.

The chart at left shows a ~14 by universe, based on the Big Bang event.  Note that the peak rate of star birth is close to the beginning, but the time of our solar system formation is 4.6 by ago. Figure from Univ Mainz.

More Misconceptions

Land plants generate most of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

All rocks and planets were formed at the same time.

All radioactivity is man made.

The idea of a 4.5 BY old earth, a 14 BY universe and also the idea of Evolution was made up by atheists to discredit the Bible.

There is one geologic column for the whole earth.

There is significant disagreement about earth’s age among scientists.

The Earth has always been pretty much the way it is now.

All rocks are more or less the same (a rock is a rock!)

Earth is as old as the oldest rocks found on its surface, 3.8 billion years.

The fossil record does not support evolution.