Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth Science

World's Oldest Rocks Found 254

Smivs writes "The BBC reports that Earth's most ancient rocks, with an age of 4.28 billion years, have been found on the shore of Hudson Bay, Canada. Writing in Science journal, a team reports finding that a sample of Nuvvuagittuq greenstone is 250 million years older than any rocks known. It may even hold evidence of activity by ancient life forms. If so, it would be the earliest evidence of life on Earth — but co-author Don Francis cautioned that this had not been established. 'The rocks contain a very special chemical signature — one that can only be found in rocks which are very, very old,' he said."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

World's Oldest Rocks Found

Comments Filter:
  • by oldhack ( 1037484 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @10:52PM (#25190315)
    And you can see McCain's shadow stacking the layers...
  • First (Score:2, Funny)

    by Plantain ( 1207762 )

    They'll find proof I had first post!

  • by narcberry ( 1328009 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @10:57PM (#25190341) Journal

    Isn't it inaccurate to say "World's oldest rocks found" ? I'm a fan of Schroedinger and all that, but just because their the oldest we've observed doesn't mean they are the oldest.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:04PM (#25190395)

      The 'oldest' (or largest, smallest etc...) is always based on known measurable things. It isn't the the oldest person is the absolute oldest person in the world, just the oldest known. There could have been one person who lived long before we recorded it who lived longer than anyone today, albiet unlikely. It is likely there are older rocks, in fact it is almost inevitable there are older ones, especially if they find traces of life in them. These are just the oldest verified and recorded that we know of.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Bob-taro ( 996889 )

        in fact it is almost inevitable there are older ones

        And it is almost certain that we will find at least one of these older rocks. And it is almost inevitable that there will be older rocks than that. Therefore it is almost certain that the age of the earth is infinite!

    • by macraig ( 621737 )

      That was my immediate reaction when I saw the title of this in the Slashdot feed. Doesn't really reflect an appreciation of the Scientific Method as opposed to Scientific Religiosity, now does it? Science ain't done until the Fat Lady sings (and it ain't happened yet).

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ppanon ( 16583 )
      You're right. It should have been: New "World's oldest rocks" found!
    • Lordy, that's more grammar nazi than most members of the third reich's grammar squads!

      Somewhat agree though you picky picky bastard!
  • by RuBLed ( 995686 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:00PM (#25190361)

    'The rocks contain a very special chemical signature â" one that can only be found in rocks which are very, very old,'

    So, it smells like earth.

  • by Riktov ( 632 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:02PM (#25190381) Journal

    ...I hear there are some rolling stones that are even older.

  • by FoboldFKY ( 785255 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:15PM (#25190471)

    When asked for comment on what they intended to do with the rocks now that they had them, the lead researcher responded:

    "Oh well, you know. Put them on a shelf. Maybe look at them from time to time. We might, when people come around to visit, take them down and let people not touch them! It's all terribly exciting... in fact, I think I need a lie-down."

  • by sleeponthemic ( 1253494 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:22PM (#25190513) Homepage
    Fucking kids. Graffito-tagging anything. Who tagged it? Jesus.. I'm looking at you.
  • Bullshit (Score:2, Funny)

    by melted ( 227442 )

    Here's a picture of world's oldest stones [topnews.in]

  • McCain? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kaos07 ( 1113443 )
    Why is a story about rocks in Canada tagged "McCain"?
  • by bornwaysouth ( 1138751 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:31PM (#25190603) Homepage
    1. The age given is 3.8 to 4.28 billion years (why billion, not giga. Dunno.) The scientist favours the oldest possible date, at a guess because that increases funding,

    2. The evidence for life was speculative at best.

    As the earth is known to have had liquid water for some time before the 4.28 possible date, this is not startling news. But they are rocks, and there is the possibility of establishing a case that they needed bacteria to create their striations. That's where the interest lies. It seems a bit too soon for life to evolve by too haphazard a route in that time.

    Which implies a catalytic life-shaping environment, or an extra-terrestrial source, or of course, intelligent design. I've no objection to the latter, provided it is taught in a scientific manner. I've also no objection to proposing pigs can fly provided the analysis is, if not scientific, then nicely based on engineering.
    • by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:49PM (#25190717) Journal

      No. Intelligent Design cannot be taught in a scientific manner, unless it is to say "There was no Intelligent Design."

      The whole "teach the controversy" is an attempt to trick people into teaching ID, and is a means of validating it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by khallow ( 566160 )
        Sure it can. We'd have to include a copious number of negative results. No 4 billion year old spaceships for example. Nobody's chatted with the bacteria supermind. And a fairly evolutionary chain that goes back to the dawn of life.
        • No way. See, the whole problem is that the whackos trying to push ID say "Well, we weren't THERE so you can't PROVE any of this!"

          Science that proves evolution is considered Theory for this very reason. A scientific mind MUST concede that point. Obviously, there's so much evidence behind evolution, so much correlation between other sciences; but we cannot actually demonstrate evolution in a lab environment. So, it will remain the "Evolutionary Theory."

          So, that's where the ID proponents weasel their wa

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Obviously, there's so much evidence behind evolution, so much correlation between other sciences; but we cannot actually demonstrate evolution in a lab environment.

            Sure we can. [newscientist.com]

          • by Sique ( 173459 )

            Obviously, there's so much evidence behind evolution, so much correlation between other sciences; but we cannot actually demonstrate evolution in a lab environment. So, it will remain the "Evolutionary Theory."

            It will stay "Evolutionary Theory" as long as there is no contadictionary evidence (then it will be the former Evolution Theory). "Theory" in Science means a set of rules and parameters we can use to predict the outcome of experiments. Some physical theories we traditionally call "laws", when in fact they are theories too (only very fundamental ones).

            A scientific theory never will become a fact. Facts are a completely different beast. A certain amount of facts will give us an idea how a theory might look li

      • A true scientist would not say "God does not exist," but rather "there is no evidence that God exists," or even "there is no reason to believe that God exists."

        It is a small point, yet crucial to the distinction of belief and truth.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          although, certain atheists would say, there is sufficient evidence that God is a cruel hoax perpetrated by mankind in order to make itself feel better. There's even an evolutionary argument for religion (promotes social cohesion).

          • That much seems pretty obvious to me. I cannot imagine someone TRULY believing in a supreme being.. It makes people feel better about themselves, and is also an effective means of controlling the population.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          ID is not like that. It is just the cop out of "it's all too hard to understand, the God ate my homework". The real enemy of ID is groups like Jesuits who wonder how extreme fundamentalists can get their religeon and science so badly mixed up. We are unfortunately facing people that have reacted to skeptics by thinking that science is a rival religeon instead of a tool to find out about things.
      • Well, that depends (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ChePibe ( 882378 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @01:41AM (#25191209)

        On how they "teach the controversy".

        The way it was handled in my high school science class was simple: a discussion of what "science" meant. Science, after all, is more of a method of discovery by certain rules than a true monolith (such as "science says"). This was then distinguished from spiritual approaches by focusing on physical evidence, falsifiability, etc.

        Essentially, the teacher better defined science and distinguished it from religion. She then stated that, as we were in science class, we would learn the scientific take. We were free to believe as we wished - as is the fundamental right of every man, enshrined in the First Amendment and various case law interpreting it - but, regardless of what we believed, we would learn the scientific take in a science class - it only meant sense.

        That, to me, is the appropriate way to handle the situation. I particularly liked the way it reminded us more of the scientific method and of the epistemological differences between the hard sciences and other subjects. This planet and its people would benefit a great deal by learning the ability to approach matters in different ways and to even learn to hold two, conflicting ideas in their heads for a moment's time, if not but for the purpose of comparison. We need to trust people to think about things for themselves. Teaching epistemological approaches and focusing on process rather than product is vital to this.

      • Strictly speaking there is zero scientific evidence supporting ID so there is zero scientific basis to believe in it. This is not exactly the same as saying there is no intelligent design...but it does mean that there is no way to teach it scientifically except as to say that.
      • Yes it can. You can postulate anything disprovable and then approach it in a scientific manner. You can postulate the Earth is flat (and that light bends up due to refractive differences.) It is difficult to disprove if you have never been more than 5 miles from your village, but in the end, yeah, the idea becomes untenable. More subtle is to hypothesize that the Earth is a perfect sphere. Not easy to disprove, but possible even in 1800.

        Einstein was deeply unhappy with quantum mechanics. It was quite a rea
      • Well, it is possible to teach ID in a scientific way. I heard it presented in '93 by a researcher (atheist) from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, who was brought to my AP Bio class by my teacher (also an atheist), and discussed it from a scientific standpoint.

        The fact that most people use it as creationism in disguise is, well, actually a contradiction.

        That said: Ai! Ai! Nuvvuagittuq!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Nursie ( 632944 )

          Err, depends what you mean by ID, the current ID push seems to based almost entirely on creatiionism and driven by Christian Fundies that are trying to use it as a way to get creationism into schools and the public consciousness in general.

          If there was another ID years ago, that's fine, but what most people seem to mean by ID these days is creationism with the word "god" removed.

          • >>If there was another ID years ago, that's fine, but what most people seem to mean by ID these days is creationism with the word "god" removed.

            Yep, that's basically the long and short of it. The SIO guy was interested in it as a sort of academic exercise to see if they could come up with a way of telling if organisms were designed or not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MrMista_B ( 891430 )

      It is impossible to teach Intelligent Design in a scientific manner, because Intelligent Design has /absolutely nothing whatsoever/ to do with science, in any way, shape or form.

      Intelligent Design is 100% pure religious doctrine and dogma.

    • It seems a bit too soon for life to evolve by too haphazard a route in that time.

      It does? So how long should it take life to first evolve then? Even if you have a reasoned, evidence-based argument you need to remember that we are looking at a statistical sample of 1 so it is impossible to say whether we got lucky, and life evolved quicker than normal, or whether there was a reason for it. Certainly your vague 'feeling' about long life ought to have taken is absolutely no scientific basis for believing in Intelligent Design.

    • The age given is 3.8 to 4.28 billion years (why billion, not giga. Dunno.)

      Because years are considered as discrete individual items, rather than a collective mass. In contrast, we don't usually consider, say, multiple Watts of electrical energy to be comprised of individual Watts, so we say "GigaWatts."

      Also, see dollars - we also consider dollars to be individual units, so we say "billions of dollars" rather than "GigaDollars."

  • by isBandGeek() ( 1369017 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:40PM (#25190651)
    Now all we have to find is the world's oldest hard places.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:55PM (#25190769)

    Not everyone agrees.

    This was covered a few days ago on New Scientist...

    http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn14818-discovery-of-worlds-oldest-rocks-challenged-.html [newscientist.com]

    • by rockhopjohn ( 1374347 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @12:26AM (#25190947)
      As is stated in the New Scientist article, the technique used might actually date the protolith (the material from which this rock formed) and not the actual rock itself. From a geochronologist's stand point, this rock is actually 3.8 billion years old, based on the U-Pb zircon age given in the Science article. The age determination for the reigning oldest rocks discovered was found through U-Pb zircon work. The authors are very clear to point out that this 4.28 Ga date is not a definitely age for the rock. Gotta love the media jumping head long in front of the science.
  • Impossible! (Score:2, Funny)

    by dark42 ( 1085797 )

    That's impossible! The earth is only 6000 years old!

  • by FauxReal ( 653820 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @01:52AM (#25191267) Homepage
    For the world's scientists to calibrate their instruments for 6,000 years.
  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Monday September 29, 2008 @02:15AM (#25191353) Homepage Journal

    Looks like ancient shamans used a DWORD in the Good book to represent the age of the earth. When it was downloaded, the figure of 4.3 billion years overflowed and wrapped around to around 6000 years.

    Problem solved.

    It's funny though, because, you know, as much as everyone deservedly knocks the 6000 year old figure, few actually probe the ancient conceit that drove it - that is, the universe could not exist without mankind, and so, it more or less exists to serve mankind, and therefor we can spread out across the world and conquer it.

    Now, with all of our fancy science of course, we know much better. We know that the universe is billions of years old, and that, we've not actually found a shred of life within it that is not from our planet. Not a peep out of SETI, a hello from another world - not even a cell on Mars- nothing. So, it really looks like, that, we can spread across the world and conquer it.

    So, the upshot is that ancient man and today's scientists drew exactly the same conclusion. If we can see it, we can take it. All of this mumbo jumbo about the age of the thing doesn't matter a bit. In the mind of the Pope and Goddard alike, its -ours-.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by meringuoid ( 568297 )
      It's funny though, because, you know, as much as everyone deservedly knocks the 6000 year old figure, few actually probe the ancient conceit that drove it - that is, the universe could not exist without mankind, and so, it more or less exists to serve mankind, and therefor we can spread out across the world and conquer it.

      As a matter of fact, the 4000 BC date isn't a bad estimate for that. It's about the time of the first civilisations - when people stopped living as hunter-gatherers following the herds a

  • This is indicative of what really is exciting in Science--- the debate over methods, that reveal the real history of the world.

    One of the methods these scientists used--- which has been potentially thought to be reliable--- disagrees with another method that is more commonly considered reliable.

    Aging the oldest rocks on Earth is important because it helps us understand when extraterrestrial impact slowed to the point that would allow solidification of the Earth's surface. This places important bound on the

  • by jhylkema ( 545853 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @03:38AM (#25191647)

    'Cuz Sarah Palin told me the Earth is only 6,000 years old.

  • Dick Clark reports he's been trying to pass them since he was a teenager.

  • A hoax! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Kensai7 ( 1005287 )

    It's a hoax. My priest says the oldest rocks can't be older than 10000 years. :p

  • by Illbay ( 700081 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @08:21AM (#25192923) Journal

    It may even hold evidence of activity by ancient life forms.

    Thrintun [wikipedia.org]? Tnuctipun [wikipedia.org]?

  • by smartin ( 942 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @08:28AM (#25192989)

    Anyone that's been there would find that very hard to believe.

  • These rocks date almost to the formation of the earth and still no signs of The Flintstones or Bedrock. Sorry

  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @10:50AM (#25194489) Journal

    I'm as old as the universe (since all my subatomic particles are the same age) but I can only reliably remember back only a week or two.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @12:06PM (#25195273)
    Theres evidence on the moon and Mars of massive meteor impacts up to 3.9 billion years ago, or a half billion years after planet formation. This means Earth and Mars may not have been habitable for life until then. Rocks as old 4.28 billion years could disprove or attenuate this meteor event.

<<<<< EVACUATION ROUTE <<<<<

Working...