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Crystal Confirmed As Oldest Known Piece of Earth

Crystal Confirmed As Oldest Known Piece of Earth

On a sheep farm in Australia - scientists from the University of Wisconsin have found what they believe is the oldest piece of Earth ever discovered.

"Here it is, a zircon crystal 4.4 billion years old. That's almost as old as the earth itself which is thought to be 4.5 billion years old." (Via CBS)

The crystals are thought to have formed just millions of years after our planet was only a ball of molten rock - much too hot to support life or even land masses. (Via History Channel)

The study's lead researcher, professor John Valley, said in a statement, "This confirms our view of how the Earth cooled and became habitable... This may also help us understand how other habitable planets would form." (ViaUniversity of Wisconsin)

The zircon crystals are so tiny, if you were holding one in the palm of your hand you wouldn't even know it without a microscope. They come in all different shapes and can be completely transparent all the way to a deep red color.

According to researchers, Jack Hills in Western Australia, the sheep farm where the crystals were found was actually a beach about 3 billion years ago. The scientists say even then the crystals were merely a speck of sand. (Via NASA)

Now, the position of the atoms in the crystals is how the researchers determined their age, but some critics say it's possible those atoms could have shifted - making the crystal appear older than they actually are. But the study's lead researcher explained to NPR his team was able to confirm the age using an instrument that can extract atoms from the crystals.

And a geologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology backed up the method, "I think people will be impressed with the technique and impressed with the conclusions and agree with them... Now we're talking about a history on this planet that goes back to almost the day that the planet was born."

Valley's team is now using that technique to look at zircons from the moon brought back from the Apollo astronauts. The hope is one day they will stumble over a larger form of a zircon that dates back just as far, if not farther than the new findings.

Join the discussion

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Denise February 24 2014 at 12:38 PM

Hmmm. Interesting.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
BoB February 24 2014 at 12:07 PM

I see all the 6th grade wannabes are jumpimg all over this.

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johnb4747 February 24 2014 at 12:36 PM

That's nearly as old as the SPAM entries that AOL permits in its reader comments. Is there a reason that AOL doesn't have an employee look at the comments, and delete the spam -- without waiting for a reader to flag them?

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lsheaffer February 24 2014 at 3:15 PM

The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. And it was created by a guy with white hair in a long robe? Yeah, sure. So why did he wait until only 200,000 years ago to create human beings in his image? 4.3 billion years seems like a long time to wait. Maybe he was just trying to figure out how to do it, you know, the technology, DNA and all that stuff.

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2 replies
dsigea lsheaffer February 24 2014 at 3:27 PM

Actually, there were no calendars back then, so time was not really being measured.
It makes absolutely no difference what the bible says about time. Those wise men who wrote those books that were included in what we now call the bible also taught that the world is flat, the sun revolves around the earth, and if you sail far enough out to sea you will fall off the edge and be eaten by monsters, so if you believe everything you read, you probably should not read so much.
Take it with a grain of zircon.

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jennybewo lsheaffer February 24 2014 at 3:53 PM

Why so long for humans? It's all very simple if you just think about it. Why do you think there are billions and billions of barrels of oil in the earth and why is it so important for humanity to rely upon it? You don't think it was planned in advance and that it took that long for tat plan to develop? The earth had to go through many changes both in climate and geography for us to finally arrive and make use of the vast amount of resources that were to be made available to us and what we would need to evolve. Our EVOLUTION was MADE POSSIBLE by the master plan of some very higher intelligence or deity. We are following that plan accordingly and as we progress, more of the plan is shown to us, not actually but through science. Intelligent design and evolution go hand in hand with each other. And usually, just in the nick of time, a solution that is needed for some new directive will be found and we will take advantage of it. We are being led like a child in class, to find what has been planted for us, to become what we are destined to be. Open your eyes and you'll see it plain as day. I see it every day.

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1 reply
Brian Hope jennybewo February 24 2014 at 4:24 PM

God does not play dice with the Universe; the Universe plays dice with itself. Creation is nothing but an ongoing process involving the interraction between two opposing tendencies: evolution and entropy. And, most importantly, we are all a part of that process.

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odtn February 24 2014 at 10:13 PM

Why say it is only 4.4 Billion yrs old? All of the constituent atoms (originally H or He) were made soon after the Big Bang 13.8B yrs ago, made into higher elements in a Supernova, and scattered about the universe until our Solar system coalesced. So, to say it is only 4.4 billion years is erroneous. Some crystals could have formed from a 2nd or 3rd generation supernova 8 billion yrs ago. Due to heat and pressure the elements probably combined into the current form in a molten earth, but don't say everything on earth is only 4 billion yrs old. Water could have been ice in space for 10 billion years or longer.

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Pinchas February 24 2014 at 5:21 PM

These scientists are mistaken! I have examined this crystal and it is NOT 4.4 billion years old, - it is only 4.38 billion years old. This is a scam that they are trying to perpetrate on the public!!!

...The incredible pomposity of these "scientists" to think that they are able to come up with this number with any tiny bit of accuracy!!! In a year or two they will have a new system that will date it as a billion years earlier - or later, - and THAT will be the new "truth".

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1 reply
blah Pinchas February 24 2014 at 5:56 PM

Umm... In cosmic time frames, that's a pretty small difference (some 20 million years). In the human perspective of time that is a major difference. Considering the world was a molten ball flying through space at the time I'm sure the difference is irrelevant.

Science is always evolving and changing to what we learn from day to day, wouldn't be surprised to see it is true that the time frames get adjusted again as we learn something new or develope other methods to test it.

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Mik's $ Toy February 24 2014 at 2:53 PM

Finally!!!!!!!! Something is as old as I feel.

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vglass2362 February 24 2014 at 6:38 PM

I always thought it was my blue and brown striped socks. Hard to imagine there is anything older. Seriously though, the science behind this discovery is fantastic.

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ajr_rocks February 24 2014 at 2:59 PM

there was a horse fossil found not to long ago and it was 4.4 billion yeas old as well. http://news.yahoo.com/fossils-4-4-million-old-horse-found-161400062.html;_ylt=A0LEVi7qowtTzg8AIQgPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTBybnV2cXQwBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMgRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkAw--

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1 reply
pgile ajr_rocks February 24 2014 at 3:48 PM

Million, billion. all the same to the mathimatically-challenged.

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adika3z February 25 2014 at 1:01 AM

WRONG year number.
no birthdate on crystal gem,
people are makeup their minds about number of years,
that is stupid and wrong idea

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