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Based on these assumptions he at first suggested an age of the Earth of between 100 Ma and 500 Ma.This estimate was actually reduced over his lifetime to between 20 Ma and 40 Ma and eventually to less than 10 Ma. Perry, in particular, a noted physicists and former assistant to Kelvin, showed that cooling calculations using different but equally likely assumptions and data resulted in ages for the Earth of as much as 29 Ga.

Of course, the detected variation is no more than 0.2% of the published rates, but this paper is still quite interesting since such a correlation was never suspected before.

If magnetic fluxuations or other influencing forces are strong enough, radiometric decay rates could be much more significantly effected.

He believed this even though he did admit that some heat might be generated by the tidal forces or by chemical action.

However, on the whole, he thought that these sources were not adequate to account for anything more than a small faction of the heat lost by the Earth.

In short, the assumption that decay rates are immune to outside influences isn't as solid as it once appeared to be.

However, if one does assume a constant decay rate, and if one starts with an originally pure sample of “parent element,” then the proportion of parent to daughter tells us the number of half-lives, which has been used to find the supposed age of igneous rocks. The conclusions of Renne and his team read as follows: Ar can be identified in volcanic sanidine, and while perhaps negligible in pre-Holocene rocks, it has important consequences for sample at the limit of the method’s applicability.

Later, after radioactivity had been proven to be a significant source of the Earth's internal heat, he did privately admit that he might have been in error.

What is especially telling about this whole story is the conclusion of the absolute truth of the conclusion based on premises that are weak, or at least not adequately demonstrated.

Both the physical geologists and paleontologists could point to evidence that much more time was needed to produce what they saw in the stratigraphic and fossil records.

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