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Oldest Piece of the Earth Found in Australia

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<![CDATA[According to scientists, a piece of zircon crystal found on an Australian sheep station is the oldest piece of the planet. The findings have changed the perspective on how long ago the earth’s crust was formed and the length of time it took for the life forms to begin on earth. Australia is known for having many sheep stations, as sheep rearing is one of their most profitable businesses. But sheep rearing was not what scientists had in mind when they found a zircon crystal on one of these stations in the Jack Hills Region. When examined the crystal is said to be over 4.4 billion years old prompting scientists to believe that the earth’s crust is older than was previously thought. They used two methods of testing to make certain that they were double sure and both tests arrived at the same conclusions. The first testing method used by the scientists is one that is widely accepted.  According to the Guardian, the crystal is tested base on determining the radioactive decay of uranium to lead in a mineral sample. Some scientists however, believe that because over time lead atoms within the crystals might have become unstable, this testing method might give an improper date and is therefore not entirely reliable. This prompted them to use a superior technique to test the credibility of the first outcome. A technique known as the atom-probe tomography was used. This method is similar to the field ion microscopy method and involves evaporating part of the specimen and examining individual atoms. The method confirmed the original findings, verifying that the earth’s crust appeared only about 160 million years after the solar system was formed. The Creation by Archibald Tucker Ritchie Scientists have longed believe that the Hadean period, because of the earth’s newly formed conditions along with volcanic activities, was a hellish place where life could not have existed. The discovery of the Zircon however suggest that the earth might have been able to sustain life longer than it was previously thought, which is some 4.3 billion years ago. The zircon was extracted in 2001 from a rock outcrop in Australia in the Jack Hills region. The Jack Hills is home to the oldest zircons on the planet. The Zircon, now dubbed the Jack Hills Zircon, takes scientists out of the limbo they were in regarding whether or not life existed on the planet during this time; on one hand they previously had no evidence that life existed during the Hadean age but on the other hand, there was no evidence that life didn’t exist. The zircon crystal pushes them significantly towards one angle. While they are pondering over this new found information, they are still not clear about exactly when earth began to cool off and eventually become conducive to life forms. A Zircon crystal by nature is a mineral used sometimes as a replacement for diamonds i.e. in the case of the transparent crystals. They are usually large and come in a variety of colors, oftentimes beautiful to look at. This particular crystal, as Professor John Valley of the University of Wisconsin remarked, is only attractive to a geologist.  Valley, who led the research, is a geosciences professor and explained the size of the Zircon. The crystal found in Australia is about twice the width of the human hair and can barely be seen with the naked eye. The crystal is indeed a rare gem not because of what it might be worth but rather because it is almost as old as the earth itself. ]]>

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