The story of this great change in the conception of the history of Earth is not a simple one.
The chronicle of this great change can be broken into five periods; ran from AD 1600-1700.
But this sediment doesn't typically include the necessary isotopes in measurable amounts.
Fossils can't form in the igneous rock that usually does contain the isotopes.
To determine the ages of these specimens, scientists need an isotope with a very long half-life.
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If, in the year AD 1600, you had asked an educated European how old the planet Earth was and to recount its history he would have said that it was about 6000 years old and that its ancient history was given by the biblical account in Genesis.
If you asked the same question of an educated European in AD 1900 you would have received a quite different answer.