Potassium - Argon and Argon - Argon dating are based on the current understanding that radioactive Potassium-40 decays to the stable form, Argon-40 with a half-life of approximately 1.25 billion years.There are some circumstances that can affect this rate such as magnetic fluctuations etc...There is perhaps no beguilement more insidious and dangerous than an elaborate and elegant mathematical process built upon unfortified premises." - Chamberlain 1899b:224Following the discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel (1896), the possibility of using this phenomenon as a means for determining the age of uranium-bearing minerals was demonstrated by Rutherford (1906).
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.
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.
However, on the whole, he thought that these sources were not adequate to account for anything more than a small faction of the heat lost by the Earth.