Biography:Mark Inghram

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Mark G. Inghram
Born(1919-11-13)November 13, 1919
Livingston, Montana, United States
DiedSeptember 29, 2003(2003-09-29) (aged 83)
Holland, Michigan, United States
Alma materOlivet College
University of Chicago
Known forFirst use of meteorites to find the age of the Earth
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Chicago
Doctoral studentsJohn Reynolds
Gerald J. Wasserburg
George Wetherill

Mark Gordon Inghram (November 13, 1919 – September 29, 2003) was an American physicist. Inghram was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.[1]


Inghram was born in Livingston, Montana. He did undergraduate work at Olivet College, receiving a B.A. in 1939. He worked in the Manhattan Project during World War II and at Argonne National Laboratories from 1945 to 1947. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1947. He began teaching at the University of Chicago as an instructor in 1947 and remained there until his retirement in 1985. He died at his home in Holland, Michigan in 2003.[1][2]

Age of the Earth

Together with Clair Patterson and George Tilton, Inghram was one of the first scientists to combine measurements on meteorites and the Earth to find the age of the Earth. Over time, the decay of uranium to lead will change the isotopic makeup of terrestrial lead. Patterson, Tilton and Inghram assumed that iron meteorites, which contain lead but virtually no uranium, formed at the same time as the Earth. Assuming this to be true, the isotopic makeup of lead in iron meteorites should still be the same as that of the newly formed Earth, so the Earth can be dated by comparing the composition of lead in iron meteorites with that in new volcanic material on the Earth. Patterson, Tilton and Inghram did this and found that the Earth was approximately 4.5 billion years old.[3][4][5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mark G. Inghram, Physicist, 1919-2003, helped establish age of the Earth, press release, University of Chicago News Office, October 2, 2003. Accessed on line October 29, 2007.
  2. Mark Inghram, Physicist, Saint Paul Pioneer Press, October 4, 2003.
  3. Age of the Earth, C. Patterson, G. Tilton and M. Inghram, Science 121, #3134 (January 21, 1955), pp. 69–75.
  4. pp. 38–45, In Search of Lost Time, Derek York, Bristol, Philadelphia: Institute of Physics Publishing, 1997. ISBN:0-7503-0475-8.
  5. Concentration of Uranium and Lead and the Isotopic Composition of Lead in Meteoritic Material, C. Patterson, H. Brown, G. Tilton, and M. Inghram, Physical Review 92, #5 (December 1953), pp. 1234–1235. DOI 10.1103/PhysRev.92.1234.