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Creation's Tiny Mystery
Chapter 3: The Genesis Rocks

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By late 1965 my investigations of polonium halos had yielded some results that could be submitted for publication. It seemed prudent, however, to begin with another phase of my research which concerned some puzzling, abnormally large halos. I submitted a report to Applied Physics Letters, a journal known for rapid publication of new and interesting results in physics. It successfully passed peer review (the screening process used to decide the suitability for publication), and was published early in 1966 (see Gentry 1966a in the References).

Misfits in the Evolutionary Mosaic

Soon afterward I submitted my experimental results on polonium halos for publication to the same journal. Near the end of the manuscript I included the following suggestion about the origin of polonium halos:

. . . It is difficult to reconcile these results with current cosmological theories which envision long time periods between nucleosynthesis and [the earth's] crustal formation. It is suggested these [polonium] halos are more nearly in accord with a cosmological model which would envision an instantaneous fiat creation of the earth.

I had been naive enough to think that something this straightforward might pass peer review. It didn't. The editor sent the referee's comments, quoted below in their entirety, to me. The "x x x x"s were substituted by the editor in lieu of certain remarks made by this referee.

The author appears to be a perfectly competent technician who does not understand or employ the scientific method. He has observed certain [p. 39] phenomena (halos with anomalous radii) and has considered certain explanations and rejected them. To illustrate his logic, I quote from the next-to-last paragraph of his cover letter, " . . . many of these variant halos cannot be accounted for on the basis of a hydrothermal mode of formation . . . and hence they do represent extinct natural radioactivity from the cosmological standpoint." Failing to think of any other possible explanations, he concludes that the earth was formed by instantaneous fiat. In one blow he implicitly rejects all the carefully accumulated evidence of decades which is in complete conflict with his remarkable conclusion.

He is undoubtedly well aware of the findings of the modern science of geochronology. The scientific approach would be to use all these results to his advantage and try to find a compatible explanation. Without going into a long harangue about "pseudoscience," let me simply say that x x x x, and I regard the reasoning displayed in this manuscript in its present form as unworthy of publication. The experimental observations, minus any wild speculation, might be appropriately reported in a journal such as Nature.

Uncomplimentary comments aside, there was one positive note. The reviewer did concede that my investigations might merit publication in the well-respected British scientific journal Nature, if the "wild speculation," i.e., the implications for creation, were omitted from the manuscript. This experience taught me a valuable lesson: I was going to have to be more cautious about expressing the implications of the polonium halos if my results were to be published.

A New Affiliation and Better Research Opportunities

Clearly my manuscript would have to be revised before sending it to Nature. Possibly more experimental work needed to be done. In the meantime I decided to present my results on polonium halos at the 1966 annual spring meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, DC. This was a national meeting attended by thousands of earth scientists. Only a small number heard my presentation; nevertheless this occasion served to bring my results before the scientific community in a limited way. Perhaps more importantly, at that time at least, this presentation became known to the science faculty at Columbia Union College in nearby Takoma Park, Maryland. They expressed interest in my affiliating with Columbia Union College to continue my research. This new affiliation was effective in July 1966. It was a most welcome change. Acquisition of a quality research microscope and freedom to use the standard laboratory facilities available there made it [p. 40] considerably easier to pursue my investigations. The supportive attitude of all the science faculty, especially Dr. Don Jones, was a source of great encouragement.

Additional experimental results were soon obtained. These were incorporated into a revised manuscript and sent to Nature. By leaving out any direct reference to implications for creation, this manuscript successfully passed peer review and was published in early 1967 (Gentry 1967). Using the same strategy I submitted another manuscript on halos to Earth and Planetary Science Letters, an international earth science journal published in Amsterdam; this manuscript was also accepted and subsequently appeared in this journal late in 1966 (Gentry 1966b).

Although research on halos occupied most of my time, my general interest in the age of the earth had led me to preliminary investigations of carbon-14 fossil dating. In fact, as early as 1965 my attention was attracted to a report in Nature concerning the possible carbon-14 build-up in the atmosphere resulting from the 1908 Tunguska meteor explosion in Russia. My investigations of this topic were summarized in a manuscript I submitted for publication to Nature. The manuscript successfully passed peer review and was published in September of 1966 (Gentry 1966c).

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