Skip to comments.More Fluctuations Found in Isotopic Clocks
Posted on 08/17/2012 11:21:22 AM PDT by fishtank
More Fluctuations Found in Isotopic Clocks
by Brian Thomas, M.S. | Aug. 17, 2012
Age-dating a rock using its radioactive isotopes only works by assuming that the rate at which that "clock" ticks was constant in the past and essentially identical to that in the present. Not long ago, scientists discovered excess helium in crystals1 and "orphaned" polonium radiohalos,2 both of which imply that the decay rates of isotopes commonly used to date earth rocks were dramatically accelerated in the past. Even today, researchers are finding small but significant changes in isotope decay rates, and these add credibility to the idea that isotopic processes were once very different from today's processes.
One standard isotopic clock system uses decaying uranium isotopes. Uranium spontaneously and slowly decays to lead (Pb on the Periodic Table of Elements). Two different uranium isotopes, 235U and 238U, decay into lead at different rates. Geologists assume that the ratio between these is constant and known, giving a convenient shortcut to uranium dating, which only requires that the two uranium amounts be measured.
Of course, this shortcut age-dating method assumes that 238U and 235U have decayed at today's rates throughout the past. It also assumes that the relative amounts of the two have been constant. Physics Today editor Johanna Miller recently wrote, "Standard Pb-Pb dating protocol uses a 238U/235U ratio of 137.88 with zero uncertainty. But several recent studies have cast doubt on that number."3
Miller cited one experiment that found that the uranium ratio (the heavier 238U to lighter weight 235U) is not constant. The study authors wrote, "Our observations have a direct impact on the U-series and U-Th-Pb chronometers," meaning that dates "determined" by uranium decay will need revision.4
Yet another study reported natural variation in the uranium ratio. These authors suggested that natural processes separate the isotopes from one another and skew the ratio, thereby skewing the ages gained by the assumption that the ratio was constant. These authors wrote, "The discovery that 238U/235U varies in nature also has implications for the precision and accuracy of U-Pb dating. The total observed range in U isotope compositions would produce variations in 207Pb/206Pb ages of young U-bearing minerals of up to 3 Ma [million years old], and up to 2 Ma for minerals that are 3 billion years old."5
Two to three million years are not a huge part of three billion. So, adjusting already-published dates to reflect these new and larger error margins will not displace billion-year-old age assignments. However, if today's comparatively tame natural processes affect isotope ratios, then ancient and much more violent processes could have affected those ratios and rates much more, just as the helium in crystals and orphaned radiohalos imply.
Another isotope system used for dating, though more rarely that uranium, is that which occurs when a radioactive samarium isotope decays to the element neodymium. A 2012 Science report re-measured samarium's decay rate, finding that it occurs only about 66 percent as fast as "the currently used value" for age dating.6 This is a huge discrepancy! It means that all published samarium-dated rock ages need to be re-evaluated.
In addition, Purdue University just applied for a patent on a solar flare warning system that relies on ways in which the earth-sun relationship somehow alters nuclear decay rates. Purdue News reports that "Advance warning could allow satellite and power grid operators to take steps to minimize impact and astronauts to shield themselves from potentially lethal radiation emitted during solar storms."7 Their invention would rely on detecting changes in the rate of manganese 54 decaying to chromium 54. Researchers observed the decay rate changes occurring about a day prior to solar flares.
Even carbon dating is in hot water. Scientists typically use this method to age-date carbon-containing objects thought to be only tens of thousands of years old. The relevant radioactive carbon isotope (14C) decays so fast that it should no longer exist in earth materials that are a million or more years old.8 Recently, researchers measured elevated levels of 14C in correlated tree rings and attributed the spike to an unidentified "massive cosmic event."9 If natural processes did alter carbon isotope ratios, then why trust dates that assume the ratios were never altered?
Science shows that isotopic clocks are not all trustworthy.10 The isotope ratios and rates upon which they depend are variable, even on today's comparatively calm earth surface. During the tumultuous Flood, when immeasurable quantities of mantle material were ejected onto earth's surface and water potentially contaminated everything, isotopic clocks ticked much, much faster.11
Humphreys, D.R. 2005. Young Helium Diffusion Age of Zircons Supports Accelerated Nuclear Decay. In Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative, Vol. 2. Vardiman, L. et al., eds. El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research and Chino Valley, AZ: Creation Research Society.
Gentry, R.V. 1974. Radiohalos in a Radiochronological and Cosmolocial Perspective. Science. 184 (4132): 62-66.
Miller, J. 2012. Time to reset isotopic clocks? Physics Today. 65 (6): 20-21.
Stirling, C.H. et al. 2007. Low-temperature isotopic fractionation of uranium. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 264 (1): 208-225.
Weyer, S. et al. 2008. Natural fractionation of 238U/235U. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 72 (2): 345-359.
Kinoshita, N. et al. 2012. A Shorter 146Sm Half-Life Measured and Implications for 146Sm-142Nd Chronology in the Solar System. Science. 335 (6076): 1614-1617.
Venere, E. New system could predict solar flares, give advance warning. Purdue News. Posted on purdue.edu, August 13, 2012. Despite this, 90 instances of C-14 in supposedly million-year-old earth materials were reviewed and 10 more were presented in Baumgardner, J.R. et al. 2003. Measurable 14C in Fossilized Organic Materials: Confirming the Young Earth Creation-Flood Model. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism. R.L. Ivey, ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, Inc., 127-142.
Lovett, R. A. Mysterious radiation burst recorded in tree rings. Nature news. Posted on nature.com June 3, 2012, accessed August 10, 2012.
Austin, S.A. 2005. Do Radioisotope Clocks Need Repair? Testing the Assumptions of Isochron Dating Using K-Ar, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, and Pb-Pb Isotopes. In Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative, Vol. 2.Vardiman, L.et al., eds. El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research and Chino Valley, AZ: Creation Research Society. When heated to plasma, bare nuclei of rhenium radioisotopes decay a billion times faster than normal. See Bosch, F. et al. 1996. Observation of Bound-State β- Decay of Fully Ionized 187Re: 187Re- 187Os Cosmochronometry. Physical Review Letters. 77 (26): 5190-5193.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on August 17, 2012.
“Creationists oppose not just evolution, but also geology, physics, paleontology, astronomy and any other branch of science that refuses to stick with their useless precepts.”
This is a very grand assumption. Creationists have questioned, as skeptical scientists, the foundation of radio carbon dating....I’d say they are ahead of the learning curve.
Here we go.
Maybe I am really not as old as I feel. I hope not.
Oh? Are you a mind reader now? It isn’t about me it is about science being useful and creationism being useless. It isn’t about me being “married” to evolution, it is about scientists needing an actual useful scientific explanation - and creationism is of no use.
How many times per week do you light candles, turn the lights out, sit cross-legged with your thumb and forefinger together and chant
“creationism is useless... creationism is useless...”
Well, evolution does in fact use an a priori insistence on a particular time table.
Saying that Creationists “oppose” these other branches of science is just silly. It’s like saying someone doesn’t believe in microwave ovens because they don’t use one.
I think, actually I know, you will find the mature Creationist is substantially more intellectually curious and more honest in their quest for the truth than an evolutionist that has been forced to fit his data into a socially acceptable model.
BTW, these are credentialed and highly intelligent Creationists.
Theological deceit is an ugly thing.
Once again scientists take steps to achieve better accuracy, and the creationists attack them for it.
The golden “proof” for an old universe just went out the window.
You say, “The world is not 6,000 or so years old.”
I say, “Prove it.”
You can’t prove it now.
The universe as we know it has changed.
I told one of my students today that we are witnessing a bigger change in our perception of physics than even the discovery of radiation itself.
All of nuclear physics has been turned upside down with this news of a non-constant nuclear decay rate.
Just FYI, I have a BS and MS in Nuclear Engineering and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. That in itself doesn’t mean that I am correct, it just means that I have a small amount of education.
The more educated someone is the less likely they are to be a creationist.
Biologists use the timetable developed by physicists and geologists and that is based on evidence and is subject to refinement as new evidence comes in.
This article has to do with creationism trying to rewrite physics because it doesn’t agree with their timetable.
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All of nuclear physics? Upside down, you say? Strangely quiet for being upside down, they are.
That’s just the folks that are not afraid to go public !!
Many many more, know that their funding or tenure will end if they express what they know.
The tipping point is coming very soon.
Yep, yep, yep.
Especially globull warming science, eh?
globull warming, as you spell, is a political statement not science. When exposed to the true scientific method it collapses faster than algore’s iq test.
Many many more, know that their funding or tenure will end if they express what they know.
I'm sure Isaac Newton took quite a risk publicly disagreeing with radiometric dating.
Oh brother, where art thou ?
First things first, since you opened this line of discussion.
Newton, was never under threat for his beliefs.
Galileo, on the other hand was, however he still maintained his faith and certainly has been vindicated.
A mature Creationist will readily admit the mistakes of a dogmatic church over the centuries. The church of Darwinism by contrast,exercises it’s dogmatism through an entirely different process.
At the end of the day you, if you even bother to do some research, will find the Creationist community of scientists adhering to a standard of scientific rigor that an evolutionist only wished were present.
Here’s the deal.
If it were proven, beyond all doubt, all over the media etc....
That the Earth was no more than..say 10,000 years old.
Would that make any difference in your worldview ?
Ah! time I like time discussions... big issue time..
Lineal time may just be an illusion or even an allusion..
If eternity future is possible Occams Razor demands an eternity past..
If so, so much for the Big Bang!..
The Big Bang is a good yarn... no way to prove any of that.. (for sure)..
But it is very entertaining..
Multi-dimensions even Multi-Universes plays into all that..
Even multi-GoDs or no God at all... all extremely entertaining..
Science fiction must be logical and entertaining else whats the point..
Reality however need not be logical at all....
And I don’t see how time must be linear...
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