The Enigma of the Polonium Halos
The polonium halos in granites present a unique challenge to the evolutionary view of earth history because their origin can be traced directly to certain known isotopes, none of which have long half-lives. Figure 1.1 shows that 210Pb and 210Bi, whose respective half-lives are 22 years and 5 days, successively beta decay to 210Po, the alpha emitter whose half-life is 138 days. Because beta decays do not cause coloration, this means a 210Po halo radiocenter could have initially contained any one of these three isotopes, and a 210Po halo would still have resulted. Likewise, Figure 1.1 shows that a 214Po halo could have initially contained the beta emitters 214Pb, or 214Bi, whose respective half-lives are about 27 minutes and 20 minutes, or the alpha emitter 214Po, whose half-life is 164 microseconds. There is no beta progenitor for 218Po; so the 218Po halo must have originated with this isotope, whose half-life is just three minutes.
Clearly, any of these isotopes which might have formed in a far distant supernova would quickly have decayed away. Never by any stretch of the imagination could they have survived the eons that supposedly elapsed before the hot primeval earth formed. Even in the hypothetical situation where polonium isotopes are imagined to initially exist on the primeval earth, they would never survive the hundreds of millions of years presumably required for its surface to cool down and finally crystallize into granite-type rocks. Thus conventional geological theory considers it impossible for polonium to be a primordial constituent of Earth's granite rocks.
This impossibility is what motivated Henderson to propose a secondary origin of polonium from uranium. Henderson classified polonium halos as extinct only in the sense that the polonium in the halo centers had already decayed away. Never did he hint that polonium halos might represent extinct natural radioactivity, and for over a year and a half neither did this possibility once enter my mind. I simply assumed Henderson's idea for a secondary origin for them was correct—there seemed to be no alternative. Nevertheless, I was puzzled by the fact that in most cases there was no visual evidence of a concentration of uranium near the polonium halos.
Even more puzzling was how the various polonium isotopes would be expected to separate to form the different halo types. Technologically, [p. 31] separation of isotopes is quite difficult because they have almost identical chemical properties. And something else bothered me: Henderson's theory of polonium halo formation primarily involved uranium solutions flowing along tiny conduits or cleavages in the mica. I found, however, polonium halos were also visible in clear areas that were free from those defects. The coloration that I expected to see if uranium had flowed through those areas was generally absent. It was a curious situation. Was it possible that uranium flowed through the mica without leaving a trail of coloration to mark its passage?
About this time a special acid etching technique was discovered that was capable of locating very small amounts of uranium in mica. Application of this technique to regions of mica near polonium halos showed only evidences of trace amounts of uranium (a few parts per million) that exist throughout all mica specimens—there was no concentration of uranium in or near the halo centers in the clear areas. All my attempts to confirm Henderson's hypothesis for a secondary origin of polonium halos had failed. It seemed that polonium halos had not originated with radioactivity derived from uranium. But what other possibility was there? It was most perplexing, like having the solution to a problem but not knowing exactly what the problem was.
Polonium Halos: A Revolutionary New Interpretation
One spring afternoon in 1965 I was examining some thin, transparent sections of mica under the microscope, a task which had been my main research occupation for over a year. Winter had begun to fade, and on that particular day I had moved the microscope to the living room. The afternoon sun beaming through the front windows provided a more conducive atmosphere for contemplation than the shadowy back room that normally served as my laboratory. Again I puzzled over the origin of some beautifully colored polonium halos. The conflicting requirements concerning their origin continued to mystify me. According to evolutionary geology, the Precambrian granites containing these special halos had crystallized gradually as hot magma slowly cooled over long ages. On the other hand, the radioactivity which produced these special radiohalos had such a fleeting existence that it would have disappeared long before the hot magma had time to cool sufficiently to form a solid rock. It was a true enigma. Would I ever resolve it?
Looking up from the microscope I became aware that our home was quiet—our three boisterous young children were asleep. I wondered what they would think if they were old enough to understand what my research was all about.
Back to work. Again I peered through the microscope and could vividly see polonium halos in the thin sections of mica. At that moment the following verses in the Bible flashed through my mind—and immediately triggered some awesome questions:
Was it possible that the granites had not crystallized out of a slowly cooling magma? Was it possible that the earth had not begun as a molten sphere? Was it even possible that the chemical elements of our planet were not the result of nucleosynthesis in some distant supernova at all—but instead were created instantly when the Creator spoke this planet into existence?
Were the polonium halos mute evidence of extinct natural radioactivity? Was, then, the half-life of 218Po—just three brief minutes—the measure of time that elapsed from the creation of the chemical elements to the time that God formed the granites?
In my search for the truth about the age of the earth, had I discovered evidence for its instantaneous creation?
Were the tiny polonium halos God's fingerprints in Earth's primordial rocks? Could it be that the Precambrian granites were the Genesis rocks of our planet?
I was stunned by these thoughts. Doubtless there were trillions of polonium halos scattered throughout the Precambrian granites around the world. If each one was evidence for creation, it was staggering to think how vast and pervasive this evidence really was! What would its effect be on radiometric and geologic calculations of the age of the earth? How might it affect the way that scientists viewed evolution? Gradually I realized the tremendous implications.
The Impact of Creation on Evolution and the Age of the Earth
Confirmed evolutionists believe that by objective scientific investigations they have been able to fit together numerous pieces of scientific data from [p. 33] astronomy, geology, and biology to construct the beautiful mosaic of evolution. The glue which holds this evolutionary mosaic together is the uniformitarian principle. In reality this principle is only an assumption that the cosmos, including the earth and life on it, evolved to its present state through the unvarying action of known physical laws. It is the foundation of all radiometric and geological dating methods. Without it there is no basis for assuming that radioactive decay rates have been constant and thus no basis for believing the earth is billions of years old.
Nor is there any basis for geological uniformitarianism—the assumption that present rates of accumulation, decomposition and erosion have been constant throughout earth history. After all, geological processes are governed by physical laws. Since valid scientific evidence for an instantaneous creation contradicts the uniformitarian principle, it must also contradict geological uniformitarianism. Thus the adhesive for all the interlocking pieces in the evolutionary scenario dissolves, and the mosaic falls apart.
Nowhere is this disintegration more apparent than in the area of time. Unambiguous evidence for creation falsifies all aspects of the theory of evolution because it invalidates the basis for the radioactive dating techniques thought to support a great age of the earth. In particular, an instantaneous creation of the granites collapses several billion years of earth history to almost nothing. Comparison of Figure 2.4 (a) and (b) shows how evidence for creation results in a reassignment or elimination of some of the major events in the evolutionary scenario and a drastic telescoping of the time intervals. The billions of years believed necessary for the earth to evolve from some nebulous mass simply evaporate when confronted by such evidence. The essential time element needed for evolution to occur just vanishes.
Earth Science Associates