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giving a lower limit for the age of the Solar System.It is hypothesised that the accretion of Earth began soon after the formation of the calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions and the meteorites.The process of solar nuclear fusion was not yet known to science.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 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.After Henri Becquerel's initial discovery in 1896, Marie and Pierre Curie discovered the radioactive elements polonium and radium in 1898; and in 1903, Pierre Curie and Albert Laborde announced that radium produces enough heat to melt its own weight in ice in less than an hour.Geologists quickly realized that this upset the assumptions underlying most calculations of the age of Earth.Huxley, attacked Thomson's calculations, suggesting they appeared precise in themselves but were based on faulty assumptions.The physicist Hermann von Helmholtz (in 1856) and astronomer Simon Newcomb (in 1892) contributed their own calculations of 22 and 18 million years respectively to the debate: they independently calculated the amount of time it would take for the Sun to condense down to its current diameter and brightness from the nebula of gas and dust from which it was born.

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