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Confirmed: Zircon crystal is oldest known piece of Earth

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02-25-2014, 08:21 AM
  #1
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Confirmed: Zircon crystal is oldest known piece of Earth

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...tal-jack-hills

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Scientists using two different age-determining techniques have shown that a tiny zircon crystal found on a sheep ranch in western Australia is the oldest known piece of our planet, dating to 4.4 billion years ago.

Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience on Sunday, the researchers said the discovery indicates that Earth's crust formed relatively soon after the planet formed and that the little gem was a remnant of it.



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02-25-2014, 11:07 AM
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Things like this make you realize that in the grand scheme of things, dinosaurs were alive not THAT long ago.

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02-25-2014, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Hurt View Post
Things like this make you realize that in the grand scheme of things, dinosaurs were alive not THAT long ago.
Very true. It's like my first reaction upon hearing of the idea of Snowball Earth and that complicated, multicellular life only really developed in the past 750 million years or so.... "That's it?"

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02-25-2014, 02:03 PM
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Lookinh at the picture there, I never would have guessed this:

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The zircon was extracted in 2001 from a rock outcrop in Australia's Jack Hills region. For a rock of such importance, it is rather small. It measures only about 200 by 400 microns, about twice the diameter of a human hair.

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02-25-2014, 03:28 PM
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It's really hard to wrap my head around the concept of 4 billion years.

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02-25-2014, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hurt View Post
Things like this make you realize that in the grand scheme of things, dinosaurs were alive not THAT long ago.

Aren't we all about the same age? It's not like new matter shows up on Earth. All the atoms get recycled in new combinations.

So you probably have some dinosaur atoms in you.

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02-25-2014, 08:04 PM
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Matter-wise we are all offspring of the stars... We don't know where our electrons have been however.

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02-25-2014, 10:24 PM
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Aren't we all about the same age? It's not like new matter shows up on Earth. All the atoms get recycled in new combinations.

So you probably have some dinosaur atoms in you.
You are right. That probably explains all the hunger and no brains.

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02-26-2014, 03:26 PM
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Aren't we all about the same age? It's not like new matter shows up on Earth. All the atoms get recycled in new combinations.

So you probably have some dinosaur atoms in you.
Loved the bit where Neil DeGrasse Tyson says that the atoms in your left-hand could have easily come from a different star than the atoms in your right hand.

New matter shows up on earth constantly in the form of meteorites as well as solar dust i think as well.

I did like the thought that there's ancient atoms that were perhaps shared by extinct stars or even dinosaurs though. It's a neat thing to be aware of.

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02-28-2014, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Beef Invictus View Post
It's really hard to wrap my head around the concept of 4 billion years.
Indeed. The human brain just isnt capable of fathoming numbers that large other than nominally. Like you could look at 50,000 people and be like damn, thats a lot of people. But when it comes to intrinsically knowing numbers of that magnitude, it's just not possible with how our brains are wired.

I wonder how much this crystal would be worth.

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02-28-2014, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by VoicexOfxReason View Post
Indeed. The human brain just isnt capable of fathoming numbers that large other than nominally. Like you could look at 50,000 people and be like damn, thats a lot of people. But when it comes to intrinsically knowing numbers of that magnitude, it's just not possible with how our brains are wired.

I wonder how much this crystal would be worth.
$4 Billion sounds about right

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02-28-2014, 11:05 PM
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Shouldn't this be buried by layers of dust, sand, rock and other stuff ?

This rock is like the Earth's first pet... that just lives forever.

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03-01-2014, 01:05 PM
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Just to boggle your mind about the magnitude of time:

'There is 83 million years between Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex, but just 66 million years between you and T. rex.'

Today feels like it's a long day and I've only been awake a few hours.

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03-03-2014, 12:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VoicexOfxReason View Post
Indeed. The human brain just isnt capable of fathoming numbers that large other than nominally. Like you could look at 50,000 people and be like damn, thats a lot of people. But when it comes to intrinsically knowing numbers of that magnitude, it's just not possible with how our brains are wired.

I wonder how much this crystal would be worth.
I think scale is important. You could imagine 4 billion grains sand I think. Just picture a mountain of sand.

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03-03-2014, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by MarkGio View Post
I think scale is important. You could imagine 4 billion grains sand I think. Just picture a mountain of sand.
But you'd just be picturing a monolith not the actual individual pieces

It's like counting 1 of something really large you can't actually picture 4 billion individual things

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03-03-2014, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
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I think scale is important. You could imagine 4 billion grains sand I think. Just picture a mountain of sand.
Yes but if someone was to dump a mountain of sand, you will think "that's one mountain of sand" not "that's 4 billion grains of sand". Well, in most cases.

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03-03-2014, 10:50 PM
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Apparently 4 billion grains of sand is only about 4 dump truck loads, so that's not as impressive as expected

Edit: Apparently that's for very coarse sand. Fine sand? you'd be looking at about 36 buckets.

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03-04-2014, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beef Invictus View Post
Apparently 4 billion grains of sand is only about 4 dump truck loads, so that's not as impressive as expected

Edit: Apparently that's for very coarse sand. Fine sand? you'd be looking at about 36 buckets.
Semantics.

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03-04-2014, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkGio View Post
I think scale is important. You could imagine 4 billion grains sand I think. Just picture a mountain of sand.
Demonstrates my point perfectly. You don't imagine the 4 billion individual grains of sand. Your brain can't do that. You just imagine the one large sum quantity. But if you never knew specifically how many grains there were in that mountain, then you'd never be able to guess it. The human brain just cannot empirically, thoroughly fathom numbers that large.

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