From “Young Graphite in Old Rocks Challenges the Earliest Signs of Life” (ScienceDaily, May 21, 2011) we learn:
The team — which includes researchers from Boston College, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the Naval Research Laboratory — says new evidence from Canada’s Hudson Bay region shows carbonaceous particles are millions of years younger than the rock in which they’re found, pointing to the likelihood that the carbon was mixed in with the metamorphic rock later than the rock’s earliest formation — estimated to be 3.8 to 4.2 billion years ago.
“The characteristics of the poorly crystalline graphite within the samples are not consistent with the metamorphic history of the rock,” said Boston College Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Dominic Papineau, a co-author of the report. “The carbon in the graphite is not as old as the rock. That can only ring a bell and require us to ask if we need to reconsider earlier studies.”Nearly 4,000-million years old samples from Greenland have been used to develop the dominant time line regarding the emergence of the earliest biosphere. The recent findings suggest the biosphere may have emerged millions of years later, a hypothesis that now demands a rigorous study, said Papineau.
Is there a backstop to the compression somewhere? Well, today is May 22, 2011 CE, 07:25 PM EST, and things can’t get much later than this, while still being in the past. Can they?