What was the earth’s atmosphere like when ancient rocks were forming? Was it cold and thin because the sun was supposedly dimmer back then?

Researcher Sanjoy Som tried to answer these questions by analyzing tiny craters in South Africa that were left by raindrops landing in volcanic ash, which has long since turned to stone. However, his research actually indicated that the earth and its atmosphere aren’t very old at all.

Som, now at the NASA Ames Research Center, began investigating the raindrop rocks before earning his doctorate in 2010. He used physics to infer the thickness of the atmosphere at the time the raindrops impacted the ash. A thinner atmosphere would have offered less resistance to a falling drop, which would have hit the ground harder and thus left a larger impression.

“Som and his colleagues conclude that the atmosphere back then was a lot like it is today,” National Public Radio reported.1

And that’s a big problem for those who claim that the earth and sun are billions of years old. With the sun supposedly emitting so little light billions of years ago, water on earth would be frozen, making life impossible. Yet ancient fossils show that the earth had both water and living things. In order to solve this “faint young sun paradox,” researchers have been searching for clues showing that the ancient earth’s atmosphere was much thicker.

“The easiest answer is that the atmosphere served as an insulating blanket,” according to NPR.1 A thick atmosphere might trap enough heat to keep water from freezing. However, there is no evidence of extra carbon or nitrogen-containing greenhouse chemicals having provided any ancient blanketing atmosphere. And now that these raindrop results also indicate that the ancient atmosphere was much like today’s, “the [faint young sun] paradox remains.”1….

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