A physicist's discovery begins an extraordinary odyssey
pride and prejudice in the scientific world.
By Dennis Crews
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Robert Gentry's research contract with Oak Ridge National
Laboratory was terminated later that same year. None of the scientists
at Oak Ridge who had been searching for superheavy elements had
been successful in their quest, but it was clear that the real
reason for Gentry's termination was his now public stand in favor
Besides his work on superheavy elements and radiohalos, Gentry's
research had provided a wealth of important information relative
to the long-term storage of nuclear waste. It was pioneering
work that placed him on the cutting edge of a vital energy issue,
but suddenly he was treated as if he had never made a single
contribution to science. A still more painful disappointment
came when the Christian college that had recruited Gentry for
his outstanding research quietly let him go. There had been a
change of administrations, and with the change came new priorities
more in keeping with the mainstream of education. Robert Gentry
was a controversial figure, perceived as too much of a liability
for the school to retain. Without any affiliation he was no longer
eligible for research grants and no other laboratory would open
their facilities to him. After the years of plenty, Gentry was
thrown back once again on his own.
For the past several years Robert Gentry has continued his
research in a sparsely equipped home laboratory. His only funding
now comes from private individuals who believe in the importance
of his work. The setting is a far cry from the high-tech environs
of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, but Gentry is characteristically
philosophical about his circumstances. He knew long ago that
the decision to pursue truth might lead him into narrow straits.
It is a mark of his own integrity that he bears no grudges toward
anyone, and still holds many of his evolutionist colleagues in
the highest regard. He has no desire to be a crusader; as a scientist
he wishes only to seek out facts and make them available to those
who wish to know them.
Irresponsible zealots exist on both sides of the creation-evolution
fence, just as there are exacting and brilliant researchers on
both sides. Surely not everything that calls itself creation
science is worthy of the name. But it is important to remember
that scientists who openly challenge the tenets of evolution
are systematically denied access to grant funds and state-of-the-art
facilities that would otherwise enable them to perform quality
research. The status quo is fiercely protected by most evolutionists
today, who exclude by definition all creationists from their
list of "true" scientists.
Robert Gentry enjoyed rare access to research facilities and
funds that very few of his creationist colleagues have been able
to utilize, and in a few years amassed formidable evidence for
creation that remains on the record for all to see. No doubt
some of his fellow scientists wish Gentry had never been permitted
the opportunity to do his research; certainly they have made
it difficult for him to continue in his profession. But at least
a few, even among his evolutionist colleagues, remain thankful
to him for challenging the status quo and forcing them to think
Edward Anders, an internationally known geochemist, wrote,
"His conclusions are startling and shake the very foundations
of radiochemistry and geochemistry. Yet he has been so meticulous
in his experimental work, and so restrained in his interpretations,
that most people take his work seriously ... I think most people
believe, as I do, that some unspectacular explanation will eventually
be found for the anomalous halos and that orthodoxy will turn
out to be right after all. Meanwhile, Gentry should be encouraged
to keep rattling this skeleton in our closet for all it is worth."29
It is unfortunate that so few of Anders' fellow scientists
share his liberal attitude; nevertheless Robert Gentry is still
rattling that skeleton. In the basement lab of his modest country
home outside Knoxville, Tennessee he daily peers into his well-worn
Nikon microscope at thin slices of mica and analyzes other specimens
in a small particle spectrometer, while a personal computer churns
out data nearby.
It all may seem remarkably unspectacular to the casual observer,
yet history is being made. The evidence mounts, and the way Gentry
figures it, truth has a way of outlasting all competition. The
best thing he can do is to continue his research, even if he
finally must do it on the kitchen table while teaching school
again to support himself. Someday, like a flash of nuclear fusion,
the evidence is liable to attain critical mass and explode into
public consciousness. Then the issue of accountability will become
unavoidable, and the scientific establishment will be forced
to deal with the facts he has uncovered. In the meantime, Robert
Gentry simply works and waits.
This article copyright © 1990 by Dennis Crews, all rights reserved.
29 Edward Anders, 1977. "Mystery of the Radiohalos." Research Communications Network, Newsletter No. 2.
For readers interested in a more comprehensive treatment of this story, Robert Gentry's book, Creation's Tiny Mystery, is available for $18 (U.S.) + S/H.
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