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These long time periods are computed by measuring the ratio of daughter to parent substance in a rock and inferring an age based on this ratio.This age is computed under the assumption that the parent substance (say, uranium) gradually decays to the daughter substance (say, lead), so the higher the ratio of lead to uranium, the older the rock must be.Evidence of this type led them to look into the possibility that a single magma might produce rocks of varying mineral content. Bowen discovered that as magma cools in the laboratory, certain minerals crystallize first.A pioneering investigation into the crystallization of magma was carried out by N. At successively lower temperature, other minerals begin to crystallize as shown in Figure 3.6.

Radiometric dating is largely done on rock that has formed from solidified lava.Most scientists today believe that life has existed on the earth for billions of years.This belief in long ages for the earth and the existence of life is derived largely from radiometric dating.Bowen also demonstrated that if a mineral remained in the melt after it had crystallized, it would react with the remaining melt and produce the next mineral in the sequence shown in Figure 3.6.For this reason, this arrangement of minerals became known as Bowen's reaction series.

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