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Based on these assumptions he at first suggested an age of the Earth of between 100 Ma and 500 Ma.
This estimate was actually reduced over his lifetime to between 20 Ma and 40 Ma and eventually to less than 10 Ma. Perry, in particular, a noted physicists and former assistant to Kelvin, showed that cooling calculations using different but equally likely assumptions and data resulted in ages for the Earth of as much as 29 Ga.
Most sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, limestone, and shale (which do contain fossils) are related to the radiometric time scale by bracketing them within time zones that are determined by dating appropriately selected igneous rocks in lava flows, or weathered from lava flows.
Later, after radioactivity had been proven to be a significant source of the Earth's internal heat, he did privately admit that he might have been in error.
What is especially telling about this whole story is the conclusion of the absolute truth of the conclusion based on premises that are weak, or at least not adequately demonstrated.
Of course, later scientists, like John Perry and T. After this came to light, Kelvin admitted that he might just as well have set his original upper limit on the age of the Earth at 4,000 Ma instead of 400 Ma.
Of course, this was a close as Kelvin ever came to publicly recanting his position.He believed this even though he did admit that some heat might be generated by the tidal forces or by chemical action.