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We know the Earth must be at least as old as any rock on it.Unfortunately, none of the original rocks still exist, so scientists had to use less direct evidence to determine the age of the Earth.Note that at time 0, the time of the mineral's formation, the crystal contains only parent atoms.

But if the hourglass were to break (become an open system), sand leaks out and the hourglass is no longer a reliable tool for telling time.The oldest rocks and soils from the moon are about the same age--4.6 billion years old.Scientists assume that meteorites and moon rocks were not subjected to the extensive alteration that Earth rocks have undergone.Therefore, their ages indicate when they were formed.Because all parts of the solar system are thought to have formed at the same time (based on the solar nebula theory), the Earth must be the same age as the moon and meteorites--that is, about 4.6 billion years old.

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