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Creation's Tiny Mystery
Appendix: "Radioactive Halos: Implications For Creation"

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In considering Russ Humphrey's review, aside from the question about other polonium halos—to which I have already responded in the preceding reviews—it appears to be mainly an outline of a tentative model conceived by Russ and John Baumgardner. There are some similarities between their model and mine—we both incorporate some form of change in the radioactive decay rate into our models. This means that we both recognize the uniformitarian principle is not a valid premise for reconstructing earth history. The significant differences between our models, as I understand them, are as follows:

  1. In their model radioactive decay doesn't start until some time such as the Fall, whereas in mine it begins during creation week. The reason I include radioactive decay processes within the pristine framework of creation week is that, from my understanding, luminous stars were in existence during this time, which was of course before the Fall. It is my belief those stars radiated energy through essentially the same nuclear reactions that are now operative, and that some of those reactions involved radioactive decay processes as well as nuclear fusion.

  2. In their model radioactive decay ceases from the Fall to about the time of the Flood, whereupon it begins again. In my model, there are several special periods of decay rate enhancement such as creation week, the Fall, and the Flood, to name the major ones. My model includes the possibility of an enhanced decay rate during creation week for the generation of heat, thus causing an expansion or uplift of land masses, resulting in the appearance of dry land. At the time of the Flood I see the possibility that an enhanced decay rate was again operative, this time perhaps for the primary purpose of initiating violent upheavals within the earth through rapid melting.

    [p. 321]

  3. In their model radioactive decay restarts after the Flood, whereas in my model there is an enhancement in the decay rate during the period of the Flood.

Without further discussion about the differences between our models, the most important question is whether their model can account for the existence of polonium halos in granites. The first problem is of course to identify the source of uranium for the polonium. For polonium halos embedded within a large granite formation it is in many cases difficult, if not impossible, to find a significant concentration of uranium nearby.

Then comes the question of transporting polonium through the solid rock. The movement of radioactivity via solution transport is certainly valid for gel-like wood, but quite difficult to justify for movement through granite. Ordinarily this must be done by diffusion, an exceedingly slow process, which when considering the time between the Fall and the Flood, would imply only small distances would be traversed.

Perhaps the most difficult obstacle to the formation of polonium halos in this tentative model seems to be inherent in the model itself. That is, if decay stops after the Fall, then polonium is a stable element with the ratios of the various polonium isotopes fixed in the proportion that existed at the time decay ceased. Thus all isotopes of polonium would move in unison (chemically speaking) and there would be no isotopic separation at all. The same is true for the lead and bismuth beta-precursors of polonium. This means that, if decay restarted at the Flood, there would be only one type of polonium halo (polonium-210) from the uranium series rather than the three types which actually exist.

The reason for this becomes apparent when it is realized that during the period of decay the isotopic abundances of polonium-218, -214, and -210, bismuth-214 and -210, and lead-214 and -210, are determined by the half-lives. For all three elements the 210 isotope has a half-life that is several hundred times greater than the 214 or 218 isotope. This means that in every case where polonium, bismuth, or lead may be separated as an element in a radiocenter, the 210 isotope of that element will be in vastly greater abundance than the 214 or 218 isotope, and thus lead to the formation of polonium-210 halos in every instance. In other words, there would be no possibility of halos originating solely with polonium-218 or polonium-214 to produce either a balanced-coloration three-ring polonium-218 halo or a two-ring polonium-214 halo. Examples of these balanced-coloration polonium-218 and polonium-214 halos are shown in the radiohalo catalog in my book.

Finally, since Russ ends his review with comments about the falsification test, it is appropriate to relate two new items about this topic. In the first instance a friend recently informed me that a California geologist had claimed one of the geology films distributed by Ward's Natural Scientific Establishment, Inc. showed granite synthesis. Subsequently, I contacted the producer of the film, Mr. Silas Johnson, now retired, of Coronado, California. According to Johnson this film is mainly an overview of geologic history explaining in general terms the conventional view of the origin of igneous rocks. The film was designed for the high school level and contains nothing relating to the experimental synthesis of granite.

Another report is far more interesting. A Canadian evolutionist wrote me, and sent copies to a number of prominent evolutionists, that the geology course, Understanding the Earth, offered on TV-Ontario, features a film on igneous rocks that shows granite synthesis. I obtained a videotape of that film, which is program 3 in the Understanding the Earth series. The purpose of the series is to educate students in the conventional, uniformitarian view of earth history, including the idea that granites cooled slowly from a melt. As a means of accomplishing that purpose, program 3 shows a laboratory experiment that claims to duplicate conditions under which granite is thought to have formed. In the film granite powder is melted under pressure and then allowed to cool. The resulting specimen is said to show a resemblance to granite. The film does not claim that the cooled specimen is actually a granite. It states only that the experiment can be interpreted as being suggestive of how granites formed. To say the specimen resulting from a granite synthesis experiment just resembles granite, instead of actually being a granite, is exactly what the falsification test is all about. Thus, the Canadian evolutionist, who wrote to me about this TV program illustrating granite synthesis, erroneously equated an imitation granite with the genuine article.*

From my viewpoint the results of this experiment have been one of evolution's best kept secrets—the experiment itself was done over twenty years ago—and it is now time for this particular secret to be given the widest possible exposure.

As this response goes to press I am checking to see what, if any, additional details about this interesting experiment may be determined at this late date. In my opinion creation science is about to move into a new era. There are exciting possibilities!*

Robert V. Gentry

[*As the UT presentation showed (pages 199-204), I was successful in locating one of the rock specimens here referred to, and it was not a granite. Creation science has moved into a new era.]

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Earth Science Associates