Scientist Refines Cosmic Clock to Determine Age of Milky Way

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<b>Scientist Refines Cosmic Clock to Determine Age of Milky Way</b><br /><br />LINK <i>(doesn't work because it contains "s r c" ..)</i><br /><br />The University of Chicago's Nicolas Dauphas has developed a new way to calculate the age of the Milky Way that is free of the unvalidated assumptions that have plagued previous methods. Dauphas' method, which he reports in the June 29 issue of the journal Nature, can now be used to tackle other mysteries of the cosmos that have remained unsolved for decades. <br /><br />"Age determinations are crucial to a fundamental understanding of the universe," said Thomas Rauscher, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Basel in Switzerland. "The wide range of implications is what makes Nicolas' work so exciting and important." <br /><br />Dauphas, an Assistant Professor in Geophysical Sciences, operates the Origins Laboratory at the University of Chicago. His wide-ranging interests include the origins of Earth's atmosphere, the oldest rocks that may contain evidence for life on Earth and what meteorites reveal about the formation of the solar system. <br /><br />In his latest work, Dauphas has honed the accuracy of the cosmic clock by comparing the decay of two long-lived radioactive elements, uranium-238 and thorium-232. According to Dauphas' new method, the age of the Milky Way is approximately 14.5 billion years, plus or minus more than 2 billion years. <br /><br />That age generally agrees with the estimate of 12.2 billion years-nearly as old as the universe itself-as determined by previously existing methods. Dauphas' finding verifies what was already suspected, despite the drawbacks of existing methods: "After the big bang, it did not take much time for large structures to form, including our Milky Way galaxy," he said. <br /><br />The age of 12 billion years for the galaxy relied on the characteristics of two
 
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