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It is also difficult to determine the exact age of the oldest rocks on Earth, exposed at the surface, as they are aggregates of minerals of possibly different ages.

Studies of strata, the layering of rocks and earth, gave naturalists an appreciation that Earth may have been through many changes during its existence.

He calculated the amount of time it would have taken for tidal friction to give Earth its current 24-hour day.

His value of 56 million years added additional evidence that Thomson was on the right track.

In Darwin's theory of evolution, the process of random heritable variation with cumulative selection requires great durations of time.

(According to modern biology, the total evolutionary history from the beginning of life to today has taken place since 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago, the amount of time which passed since the last universal ancestor of all living organisms as shown by geological dating.) In a lecture in 1869, Darwin's great advocate, Thomas H.

In 1895 John Perry challenged Kelvin's figure on the basis of his assumptions on conductivity, and Oliver Heaviside entered the dialogue, considering it "a vehicle to display the ability of his operator method to solve problems of astonishing complexity." Other scientists backed up Thomson's figures. Darwin, proposed that Earth and Moon had broken apart in their early days when they were both molten.By their chemical nature, rock minerals contain certain elements and not others; but in rocks containing radioactive isotopes, the process of radioactive decay generates exotic elements over time.By measuring the concentration of the stable end product of the decay, coupled with knowledge of the half life and initial concentration of the decaying element, the age of the rock can be calculated.These layers often contained fossilized remains of unknown creatures, leading some to interpret a progression of organisms from layer to layer.In the mid-18th century, the naturalist Mikhail Lomonosov suggested that Earth had been created separately from, and several hundred thousand years before, the rest of the universe. In 1779 the Comte du Buffon tried to obtain a value for the age of Earth using an experiment: He created a small globe that resembled Earth in composition and then measured its rate of cooling.

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It is hypothesised that the accretion of Earth began soon after the formation of the calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions and the meteorites.

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