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Creation's Tiny Mystery
Appendix: "Mystery of the Radiohalos"

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And so we have Gentry's conclusion in his reply to Fremlin: "But if isomers and uranium-daughter diffusion do not produce polonium halos in rocks, we are left with the idea that polonium halos originate with primordial Po atoms just as U and Th halos originate with primordial 238U and 232Th atoms. . . . Carried to its ultimate conclusion, this means that polonium halos, of which there are estimated to be 1015 [one million billion] in the Earth's basement granitic rocks, represent evidence of extinct natural radioactivity, and thus imply only a brief period between 'nucleosynthesis' [creation of elements] and crystallization of the host rocks" (5). In plainer terms, these rocks must have formed almost instantaneously upon the synthesis of the elements comprising them.

Gentry believes the evidence points to one or more great "singularities" that have affected Earth in the past, representing physical processes which we do not now observe. If this is so, then attempts to define these processes in conventional terms will prove fruitless, and the span represented by geologic time is a wide open question. Further (as we will explore in a subsequent review), Gentry concludes that the most recent "singularity" may have occurred only several thousand years ago. And he finds compelling reasons to question the entire radioactive dating scheme which undergirds our concept of geological time.

Gentry realizes that he still must reckon with the conservatism of science. While his experimental work has been impressive, few would yet concede that it is impregnable, or that his explanations are the only possible ones. As Wheeler remarked:

"If the evidence [for the polonium halo] is impressive, the explanation for it is far from clear. I would look in normal geologic process of transfer of materials by heating and cooling; in isomeric nuclear transitions; and in every other standard physical phenomenon before I would even venture to consider cosmological explanations, let alone radical cosmological explanations."

While the evidence does not seem to favor the specific mechanisms Wheeler suggested in early 1975, Gentry can be sure that, in pressing his own decidedly radical explanations, the sound and fury lie yet before him.


  1. R. V. Gentry, Annual Review of Nuclear Science 23 (1973), p. 347.
  2. O. Struve, Sky and Telescope 18 (June, 1959), pp. 433-5.
  3. R. V. Gentry, Science 160 (June 14, 1968), pp. 1228-30.
  4. R. V. Gentry, Science 184 (April 5, 1974), pp. 62-66.
  5. R. V. Gentry, Nature 258 (November 20, 1975), pp. 269-70.
  6. R. V. Gentry, L.D. Hulett, S.S. Cristy, et al., Nature 252 (December 13, 1974), pp. 564-66.
  7. C. Moazed, R.M. Spector, and R.F. Ward, Science 180 (June 22, 1973), pp. 1272-74.
  8. R.V. Gentry, W.H. Christie, D.H. Smith, et at., Science 194 (October 15, 1976), pp. 315-18.

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