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Arthur Holmes

Born: 14-Jan-1890
Birthplace: Gateshead, England
Died: 20-Sep-1965
Location of death: London, England
Cause of death: Pneumonia
Remains: Cremated, ashes given to his wife

Gender: Male
Religion: Methodist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Geologist

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Father of the geological timescale

British geologist Arthur Holmes is best known for calculating the age of the earth, extrapolating from the steady rate of radioactive decay. He first concluded that the planet is about 1.6 billion years old, then revised his estimate to about 3 billion years, after recalculating and calibrating his work. When he wrote his first paper on the subject in 1911, most respected scientists believed that the Earth's age was much younger, between 20 million and 100 million years old. With further research since his death the generally accepted estimate has risen to at least 4.5 billion years. He also conducted respected geological research on India and Africa, and he was among the first prominent supporters of the theory of continental drift.

Wife: Margaret Howe Holmes ("Maggie", b. 1885, m. 1914, d. 1938 cancer, two sons)
Wife: Doris Reynolds (geologist, b. 1899, mistress 1931-38, m. 1939, d. 1985)

    High School: Gateshead Secondary School, Gateshead, England
    University: BS Geology and Physics, Imperial College London (1911)
    Teacher: Geology, Imperial College London (1912-21)
    Professor: Geology, Durham University (1924-43)
    Professor: Geology, University of Edinburgh (1943-56)

    Wollaston Medal 1956
    Penrose Medal 1956
    Vetlesen Prize 1964
    Yomah Oil Company Geologist (1920-22)
    Edinburgh Geological Society
    European Geosciences Union
    Geological Society of London
    Royal Society 1942
    Martian Crater Holmes (75.0 S, 293.2 W, 122 km. diameter)
    English Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Malaria

Author of books:
The Nomenclature of Petrology (1920)
The Age of the Earth: An Introduction to Geological Ideas (1928)
Principles of Physical Geology (1944)


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