Claire Patterson

You may have been aware that our Earth is as old as 4. But do you know who found out this fantastic figure first? The destiny rests on shoulders on a young man, Clair Patterson, who was a PhD student at the University of Chicago in the s. The first task for Patterson was to measure the concentration and isotope composition of lead inside the zircon, which is extremely useful for geological dating. This was a brilliant idea however followed by tough laboratory work. It was found that no matter how crazy Patterson measured the concentration and isotope composition of lead in the zircon sample, disappointing results always showed up — exceeding values with poor reproducibility. Then, it was realized that there must be some lead coming from outside the lab or even the atmosphere that contaminated the samples and ruined nearly all the experiments! To this end, Patterson began to clean his laboratory by hand, trying to wipe all the lead away from the working area. The hope just came along. It had been 7 years since the young man began to study the lead, and finally he made it!

Scientist of the Day – Clair Patterson

The scientist who discovered the age of the Earth also helped end the use of lead in gasoline and other products in the United States. Sunday night’s episode April 20 of ” Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey ” explored the life of Clair Patterson, a geochemist who pinpointed Earth’s age for the first time and also uncovered a secret: Lead contamination is a major and potentially deadly problem.

The newest episode of “Cosmos,” called “The Clean Room,” takes viewers on a tour of Patterson’s work and the industry that fought him as he tried to learn more about lead and its harmful effects. Patterson’s work initially focused on the Earth’s age. Many scientists had tried to date the age of the planet before Patterson, coming up with different numbers, but he did something different during his experiments.

Dating rocks using so-called radioactive clocks allows geologists to work on old As Patterson argued, some meteorites were indeed formed about billion.

Patterson was born in Mitchellville, Iowa, who spent his entire professional career at the California Institute of Technology Caltech. In collaboration with George Tilton, Patterson developed the uranium—lead dating method into lead—lead dating. Tilton, George R. Courtesy of National Academy of Sciences. Skip to main content.

Biography of Clair Cameron Patterson, Download pdf resource. What is he known for discovering? How did he discover it? As a by-product of his work, what else did Patterson discover which has had a major impact on societies around the world?

Adventures of Clair Patterson

Event Calendar April Previous Next. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons while others believe it stems from the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar which replaced the Julian Calendar.

Patterson was best known for determining the age of the earth and the solar uranium-lead dating of common rock minerals, and using lead isotope tracers to​.

The time: Many scholars over the centuries had pondered just how old our Earth might be, including an Irish archbishop named James Ussher. That is certainly specific; it is also spectacularly wrong. Loosely paraphrased: The Bible teaches us how to get to heaven; it is not a treatise on how the heavens move. Instead of counting the begats, scientists could count the layers. A fragment of meteorite retrieved from Canyon Diablo held the answer. Such objects are relics from the formation of the solar system, including Earth, and they contain many different elements, notably uranium, a radioactive substance that over time decays into lead.

In the s, a physicist at the University of Chicago named Harrison Brown thought it might be possible to determine the age of the Earth by counting the lead isotopes in such a meteorite. Creative license! I loved this sequence. It captures the frustration at unforeseen obstacles that plague any good experiment; we usually see the successes, and almost never witness the many failures that came before. And yet those failures are a vital part of the discovery process. Patterson correctly surmised that there had to be other sources of lead in the surrounding lab environment contaminating his experiments.

In the s, lead was used in all kinds of consumer products, including paint and canned goods.

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As nature coerces us into a state of lockdown, a forced slowing down brought forth by the coronavirus pandemic, people across the world are rethinking not just their means of living, but also what will be the future of our planet and the various systems and practices that knowingly or unknowingly govern our everyday lives. Artists who have always been known to respond to the flux of times are no different. In recent times, many have been increasingly experimenting with sustainable materials, eco-friendly practices and concepts.

Anne Patterson, a New York -based artist, theatre and set designer and sculptor, it seems, rode the wave of sustainable art right before everything came to a halt. Trying to connect with her on skype as my slow internet speed poses disruptions, perhaps to follow through with the mood of the planet, I am finally able to connect with her in Rhode Island.

Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web: Allègre and age of the earth; Roman coins; lead production in. Greek and Roman times; lead in.

Fragment of the Canyon Diablo iron meteorite. Patterson developed the uranium—lead dating method into lead—lead dating and, by using lead isotopic data from the Canyon Diablo meteorite , he calculated an age for the Earth of 4. He graduated from Grinnell College with a bachelor degree in chemistry in There, he met his future wife, Lorna McCleary. For graduate school, they both attended the University of Iowa, where he was awarded an M.

Both were then sent to work on the Manhattan Project, first at the University of Chicago and then at Oak Ridge, Tennessee , where he encountered mass spectrometry. After World War II, the Pattersons returned to Chicago, where his wife Lorna took a research job as an infrared spectroscopist to support Patterson while he worked for his Ph. After a postdoctoral year at Chicago, Patterson moved with Brown to the Division of Geology at the California Institute of Technology in , as founding members of its geochemistry program.

He became a full professor in and reached emeritus status in Patterson remained at Caltech for the rest of his life. By the time when Patterson returned to the University of Chicago after the war to work under his research adviser Harrison Brown , he was first working on geological aging on zircons , which are extremely useful for dating since, when they are formed, they possess tiny imperfections of uranium inside them but no lead.

Therefore, if any lead is present in the zircon, it must come from the decay of uranium, a process known as U-Pb dating. The goal for Patterson was to figure out the composition of the primordial lead in the Earth. In doing so, it would be possible to figure out the age of the solar system and, in turn, the Earth from using the same techniques on meteorites.

Clair Patterson’s Early Life and Research

Nineteenth century geologists recognized that rocks formed slowly as mountains eroded and sediments settled on the ocean floor. But they could not say just how long such processes had taken, and thus how old their fossils were. He came up with that figure by estimating how long it had taken for the planet to cool down to its current temperature from its molten infancy. But Kelvin didn’t, and couldn’t, know that radioactive atoms such as uranium were breaking down and keeping the planet warmer than it would be otherwise.

An older Earth At the dawn of the twentieth century, physicists made a revolutionary discovery: elements are not eternal. Atoms can fuse together to create new elements; they can also spontaneously break down, firing off subatomic particles and switching from one element to another in the process see figure, right.

To determine the age of the Earth – a seven-year effort – Patterson studied lead Patterson’s subsequent research showed that lead contamination dating.

Football is fun for bickering, but for really wrecking family dinners over the Thanksgiving holidays, try tackling the week’s political argument over the age of the Earth. The fun kicked off when GQ Magazine quoted political hot property Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. But Rubio’s answer upset pundits and geophysicists. The actual age of our planet had been provided some time ago by a scientist whose contributions were ignored in the opinion-page fights that followed.

The scientist was Caltech geophysicist, Clair Cameron Patterson , the forgotten man in the week’s most discussed debate, besides Thursday’s Lions vs. Texans NFL refereeing debacle , of course.

Professor Mervyn Paterson, geophysicist

At around the same time that Arthur Holmes published his ideas for the age of the Earth, Harrison Brown, a professor at the University of Chicago, was developing a new method for counting lead isotopes in igneous rocks. Brown thought this method of counting was incredibly tedious but very easy, so he assigned it to Patterson as his dissertation project in Prior to beginning his research, Patterson had worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II, showing that, by the time he began his research, he had much experience in the field.

The main problem with using this method of dating was that Patterson needed ancient rocks that contained crystals bearing both uranium and lead.

Patterson developed the uranium-lead dating method into lead-lead from the Canyon Diablo meteorite, he calculated an age for the Earth of.

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Because rescuing his friends is more important than his life.

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