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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... 6000 years of earth history.


KNOY: “The poor world is almost six thousand years old,” quoth Rosalind to Orlando in Shakespeare's “As You Like It.” But James Ussher wanted to be a bit more precise. Ussher, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, determined the Earth was born just before noon, October 23rd, 4004 BC. He published his chronology in 1650. Within decades it was included in most copies of the King James Bible. Usher wasn't the only one to try his hand at this early form of geochronology. A century ago, Lord Kelvin calculated that the world was somewhere between 24 and 40 million years old. Today, using radioactive dating, scientists now agree that the Earth is between 4 and 5 billion years old. But given the information available to him at the time, Archbishop Ussher did his best. No less a respected scientist than Sir Isaac Newton praised his results. So, to celebrate the spirit of scientific inquiry, stop what you're doing around midday on the 23rd, and wish the world a happy 6,000th birthday.

(Music up and under: Beatles (Birthday song)

KNOY: And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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