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In the early twentieth century the Earth’s age was unknown and scientific estimates, none of which were based on valid premises, varied typically from a few millions to billions of years. This important question was answered only after more than half a century of innovation in both theory and instrumentation. Critical developments along this path included not only a better understanding of the fundamental properties of matter, but also: (a) the suggestion and first demonstration by Rutherford in 1904 that radioactivity might be used as a geological timekeeper; (b) the development of the first mass analyser and the discovery...

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