Exposing PseudoAstronomy

June 9, 2012

Podcast Episode 39: Young-Earth Creationist Attempted Refutations of Radiometric Dating


A slightly delayed episode is finally up. Part 2 of the series of 2 on radiometric dating, part 2 of the series of 4 (this month’s theme) on dating techniques. I talk about four of the main categories of claims that young-Earth creationist arguments fall into in their attempts to refute radiometric dating.

It’s also the first regularly formatted episode since #35, including the main segment, new news, Q&A, feedback, puzzler, and announcements.

7 Comments »

  1. Relevant to the topics discussed:

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/101_evidences

    This is a point-by-point rebuttal of a string of creationist claims about the age of the earth. The astronomy bit in particular should have you banging your head against a desk …

    Comment by davidgerard — June 9, 2012 @ 2:28 am | Reply

  2. BTW, it sems physicists cannot predict radioactive half-lives from first principles:

    http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=549281

    Your substantive point in this section remains, however: assuming radical changes requires changing quantum physics with far-reaching consequences, for no good reason.

    Comment by davidgerard — June 9, 2012 @ 2:38 am | Reply

    • I saw the claim from a few different sources so went with it even though I didn’t think that was the case (it’s not what I remembered from QM, but I didn’t find it in my textbook). That thread on the physics forums seems to be mixed, actually.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — June 9, 2012 @ 2:41 am | Reply

      • Yeah, it’s way out of my expertise too, and I was taught intro QM 23 years ago and didn’t really understand it then either😉 That bit just struck me as “hold on, I thought we couldn’t actually do that.” We need a physicist to hand …

        Comment by davidgerard — June 9, 2012 @ 2:53 am

  3. Scientists have accepted the use of half-life decay rates to be in millions or billions years for radiometric dating method or radioactive dating method. Some would suggest that Noah’s ark should have caused the rocks to have accelerate decay and that would have caused the age of the earth to be misled in millions or billions years. Discuss.
    Noah’s ark that had appeared in the past might not cause the rocks to decay accelerate for the following reasons:
    a)Some rocks that have been created in the very beginning would be as hard as diamond so much so that it is impossible for these rocks to decay. As these rocks would be impossible to decay, the appearance of Noah’s ark would not cause any damage of these rocks. As these rocks could be as hard as diamond, it is irrational to suggest their decay rates to be in millions or billions of years since it would be impossible for them to decay in the first place and that the decay rate for them should be set at 0. To give the high value of decay rates, such as, billion years, for hard rocks in which they are impossible to decay, Scientists have indirectly pushed the age of fossils and the earth to billions years unrealistically.
    b)Only the soft rocks that would have created in the very beginning would decay rapidly instead of the hard one. Scientists might have observed the change of shape of the rocks and comment that they should be the cause of decaying rocks. However, they should consider also the change of shape of rocks could be the result of soft rocks instead of hard since the hard would be impossible for them to decay. Besides, the hard rocks that could have been created initially would look like the current shape. As these hard rocks could never decay since they are as solid as diamond, there is no way for Noah’s ark or wind or whatever to cause them to decay. As these hard rocks could not decay, it is irrational to suggest that the incidence of Noah’s ark would have any influence upon the shape of hard rocks.
    The reliability of radiometric dating method that has been adopted by scientists to determine the age of fossils as well as the earth would be in question on the condition of the possible existence of rocks that would be as hard as diamond so much so that there is no way for them to decay. If that would be so, there should be no reason for scientists to suggest that the decay rates of the rocks should be million or billion years since they would have been created in the beginning in such a way that there is no way for them to decay. If that could be so, to insist the value of decaying rates for hard rocks with millions or billions of years would simply be unrealistic and unreliable.
    The following is the list of isotopes that have been used by scientists to estimate the age of the earth as well as fossils:
    Samarium-147 (parent); Neodymium-143 (daughter); decaying rate: 106 billion years
    Rubidium-87 (parent); Strontium-87 (daughter); decaying rate: 50 billion years
    Uranium-238 (parent); Lead-206 (daughter); decaying rate: 4.47 billion years
    Potassium-40 (parent); Argon-40 (daughter); decaying rate: 1.3 billion years
    Uranium-235 (parent); Lead-207 (daughter); decaying rate: 704 million years
    Uranium-234 (parent); Thorium-230 (daughter); decaying rate: 80,000 years
    Carbon-14 (parent); Nitrogen-14 (daughter); decaying rate: 5,730 years
    Using radioactive dating method to date the age of fossils and the earth would be unreliable. Let’s take Samarium-147 (parent) and Neodymium-143 (daughter) to be one of the examples from above for illustration.
    a)What if Neodymium-143 would have been created in the very beginning instead of it would be the result of decaying from Samarium-147, it is irrational to link up the relationship between them and to comment that Neodymium-143 was the transformation of Samarium-147 and to establish its half-life decaying rate to be 106 billion years.
    b)What if both Samarium-147 and Neodymium-143 would have been created as hard as diamond that it would be impossible for them to decay, it is irrational to conclude that Neodymium-143 should be the daughter of Samarium-147 and to suggest that the decaying rate for Neodymium-143 from Samarium-147 to be 106 billion years. This is by virtue of the half life decay rate for Neodymium-143 from Samarium-147 should be set at 0 at the absence of the possibility of decaying.
    c)How could scientists have established the relationship between these items and comment that Neodymium-143 should have decayed from Samarium-147 instead of other source or material or substance? There would be a possibility that Neodymium-143 might decay and turn into another form of material instead of Samarium-147.
    d)How do the scientists derive the decay rate for each material and to ensure its accuracy of decay rate? For instance, the Scientists have suggested the half-life decay rate for Neodymium-143 from Samarium-147 to be 106 billion years. Why should the decay rate be 106 billion years instead of a few thousand years? How do they get this figure or whether they would have plucked from sky since nobody could live so long so as to witness this would come true for the transformation?
    e) When the scientists suggested the decay rates for various materials, such as, from Argon-40 to Potassium-40 or from Samarium-147 to Neodymium-143, how do they arrange in such a way that the decay rate for Argon-40 to Potassium-40 would be lower than Samarium-147 to Neodymium-143 and not the other way round?
    d)As nobody could live millions or billions of years to witness whether Samarium-147 would turn up to be Neodymium-143, the reliability of radioactive dating method by means of the use of isotopes is questionable.
    All the above have placed the reliability of radioactive dating method into question especially the setting of decay rate in million or billions years have indirectly pushed the age of fossils and the earth unreasonably to billion years.
    Refer to the website site address http://asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html pertaining to the mathematical formula in which it indicates how the age of fossils and the earth to be computed:
    t = h x ln[1+(argon-40)/(0.112 x (potassium-40))]/ln(2)
    where t is the time in years, h is the half-year, also in years, and ln is the natural logarithm.
    Examine the formula carefully. t, the age of the fossils or the rock or the earth, corresponds with h, that is the half-year decay rate. If the scientists intentionally push the half-year decay rate to millions of years, t, that is the age of the fossils or the rock or the earth, would be pushed up by them to millions or even billions of years.

    Comment by zuma — September 1, 2012 @ 3:26 am | Reply

  4. Let’s furnish another mathematical formula below for the computation of age of fossils and the earth that could be located at the website address http://education.gsfc.nasa.gov/ess/Units/Unit4/U4L31A.html :
    t = 1/delta In (1+D/P)
    where t is the age of a rock or mineral specimen, D is the number of atoms of a daughter product today, P is the number of atoms of the parent product today, ln is the natural logarithm (logarithm to base e), and delta is the appropriate decay constant.
    In order that the formula could apply for the computation of the age of fossils or rocks or the earth, the substance or objects or whatever must have established the relationship that one object must be the daughter of another. If the relationship between them could not establish to be one as parent and another as daughter, the above mathematical formula could not be used to compute the age of fossils or rocks or the earth.
    Let’s use Samarium-147 and Neodymium-143 as examples for elaboration since scientists have linked up these two objects as parent-daughter relationship that would lead to the decay rate of 106 billion years. The following are the reasons why the computation by means of the above mathematic formula could not be used to compute the age of fossils or rocks or the earth:
    a)What if Samarium-147 and Neodymium-143 would have been created in the very beginning and Neodymium-143 would not be the result of decaying from Samarium-147, the relationship between them to be parent and daughter could not be established. As the relationship could not be established in case if they would have been created simultaneously in the very beginning, the above mathematical formula could not apply. This is by virtue of the above formula could only be applicable when two objects have established with the parent-daughter relationship.
    b)What if Samarium-147 and Neodymium-143 would be as hard as a diamond that there could be no way for them to decay, the formula could not be applicable to this condition since Both of these items could not be established to be parent-daughter relationship as one could not be the transformation from another.
    c)Even if Samarium-147 could decay, how could scientists be so firmly that it could turn up to be Neodymium-143 instead of otherwise since nobody could live billion of years to witness the end-result of transformation for Samarium-147 to be Neodymium-143? As that could be so, to comment Samarium-147 and Neodymium-143 to be parent-daughter relationship and to use them to compute the age of fossils or rocks or the earth would lead to wrong age since they could have no relationship between them in the first place.
    d)What if Samarium-147 could decay to Neodymium-143 and yet the decay rate could not be established to be billion of years instead, it could only be a few thousand years, it would certainly affect the figure that has to be used for delta. This is by virtue of the unreliable decay rate would affect the decay constant figure that has to be used in the formula above. As the unreliable decay rate of the above substance would affect the decay constant to be used in the formula above, the end-result of the computation of the age of fossils or rocks or the earth would not be reliable.
    As it is hard to jump into the conclusion that one material or substance or whatever could be the daughter of another, this makes the computation to be unreliable and it is irrational to use radioactive dating method to jump into the conclusion that the age of fossils or the earth or rocks could be in billion years.

    Comment by zuma — September 1, 2012 @ 6:35 am | Reply

  5. Let’s examine all the common isotopes that are used by scientists so as to determine their acceptability in radiometric dating method.
    The following is the list of isotopes extracted from the website address, http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/radiometric.html, and, http://anthro.palomar.edu/time/table_of_isotopes.htm:
    Parent Isotope; Stable Daughter Product; Half-Life Values
    Lutetium (Lu)-176; Hafnium (Hf)-176; 37.8 billion years
    Uranium-238 (U); Lead (Pb)-206; 4.5 billion years
    Uranium-235; Lead-207; 704 million years
    Thorium-232 (Th); Lead-208; 14.0 billion years
    Rubidium-87 (Rb); Strontium-87 (Sr); 48.8 billion years
    Potassium-40 (K); Argon-40 (Ar); 1.25 billion years
    Samarium-147 (Sm); Neodymium-143 (Nd); 106 billion years
    Carbon (C)-14; Nitrogen (N)-14; 5730 +/-40
    The analyses of the above-mentioned isotopes are as follows:
    a)Lutetium-176 (Parent Isotope) to Hafnium-176:
    The following is the extract of the article, Neutron-Deficient Nuclides of Hafnium and Lutetium, from the website address, http://prola.aps.org/abstract/PR/v122/i5/p1558_1:
    (New neutron-deficient nuclides of lutetium and hafnium were produced by bombarding lutetium oxide with 300- to 400-Mev protons. The genetic relationships and mass assignments were established by means of high-purity chemical separations and a series of chemical isolation experiments in which the daughter activity was determined as a function of time.)
    The above was the only piece of evidence that scientists have used it to prove that lutetium-176 could turn up to be Hafnium-176 in a half life.
    The phrase, New neutron-deficient nuclides of lutetium and hafnium were produced by bombarding lutetium oxide, as mentioned above implies the immediate transformation from lutetium oxide to hafnium. If lutetium-176 would take 37.8 billion years for it to be transformed into Hafnium-176, why is it that the transformation as mentioned in the above example could take immediate effect instead of a half life? Or in other words, it did not take a half life (37.8 billion years) for lutetium-176 to be transformed into Hafnium-176 and this has put radioactive dating method into question. As the formation of hafnium was by means of lutetium oxide as mentioned above instead of through a pure lutetium, it gives no ironic evidence whether the formation of hafnium could be by means of a pure lutetium. What if the formation of hafnium could only be done through the compound of lutetium, i.e. lutetium oxide, the result of the experiment would not serve as evidence that lutetium could turn up to be hafnium in a half life. Besides, a question has to be raised what other substance has been used by this scientist to assist in the explosion. What if this scientist would have added other substance to cause the explosion and that the substance, that would have added, would assist in the transformation of lutetium oxide to hafnium, relating lutetium to be the parent isotope of hafnium might not be appropriate unless with the help of other substance for its explosion. If that could be so, radioactive dating method by means of lutetium is in question since radioactive decay might not cause lutetium to be transformed into Hafnium unless certain substance has been added for explosion.
    Refer to he sequence of pictures in website address, http://www.elementsales.com/re_exp/re20071121.jpg, pertaining to lutetium. Lutetium would turn up to vanish in the 3rd year. As lutetium could not remain alone and would vanish in the air, it is irrational to assume that lutetium would exist throughout a half life (37.8 billion years) to be transformed into Hafnium since it would vanish in the air within 3 years. This has put radiometric dating method by means of lutetium-176 into question due to the possible vanish within 3 years and yet radiometric dating method gives assurance that it would last until 37.8 billion years for the transformation. How could lutetium be the parent isotope of Hafnium as it might vanish in the air within 3 months when it has been left alone in contacting with air and could not be transformed into Hafnium?
    b)Uranium (Parent Isotope) to Lead (Daughter Isotope):
    The following is the extract from the website address, http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf14.html:
    (The Earth’s uranium (chemical symbol U) was apparently formed in supernovae up to about 6.6 billion years…)
    As mentioned in the website address, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Earth_creationism, that scientists have accepted the age of the earth to be 4.5 billion years and yet have computed the age of uranium through radioactive dating method to be about 6.6 billion years. As the age of uranium is higher than the earth, this has put the reliability of radioactive dating method into question.
    Could uranium be able to transform into lead?
    The following is the extract from the website address, http://www.pathlights.com/ce_encyclopedia/sci-ev/sci_vs_ev_6.htm:
    (Uranium-thorium-lead dating, based on the disintegration of uranium and THORIUM into radium, helium, etc., and finally into LEAD.)
    The process above shows that uranium has to pass through Thorium in order to be transformed into lead.
    Could Thorium be able to transform into Lead?
    The following is the extract from the 1st paragraph under the sub-title, Abstract, from the website address, http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1914Natur..93..479L:
    (THE work of Boltwood and Holmes some years ago on the occurrence of lead and uranium in minerals rendered it very improbable that the end product of thorium could be lead. From recent generalisations, however, in respect to radio-elements and the periodic law, it is to be expected that the end products of the radio-active elements should all be isotopic with lead.)
    The phrase, uranium in minerals rendered it very improbable that the end product of thorium could be lead, as extracted above implies that scientists have no physical witness that thorium could turn up to lead. Besides, it is by no means for them to transform thorium into lead ultimately. As thorium could be by no means to turn up to lead currently, how could scientists assure the transformation would come true in a half life and would be in 14.0 billion years later? This has indeed placed the reliability of radiometric dating method into question. The reason why they put these two together is simply due to they meet radio-elements and the periodic law instead of seeing the physical transformation from Thorium-232 to Lead-208.
    c)Thorium-232 (Parent isotope) to Lead-208 (Daughter Isotope):
    As explained in clause b) above the impossibility of the transformation of Thorium to Lead. It has placed reliability of radiometric dating method into question.
    d)Rubidium-87 (Parent Isotope) to Strontium-87 (Daughter Isotope):
    The following is the extract from the 3rd paragraph under the sub-title, Isotopes, from the website address, http://www.chemistryexplained.com/elements/P-T/Rubidium.html:
    (Rubidium-87 is used to estimate the age of very old rocks. Many kinds of rocks contain two rubidium isotopes, rubidium-85 and rubidium-87. When rubidium-87 breaks down in the rock, it changes into a new isotope, strontium -87. Any rock that contains rubidium-87 also contains some strontium-87. )
    As the phrase, When rubidium-87 breaks down in the rock it changes into a new isotope strontium-87, is mentioned above, it implies the immediate transformation from rubidium-87 to strontium-87. Or in other words, it does not take a half life (or 48.8 billion years) for rubidium-87 to be transformed into strontium-87. The transformation is simply immediate and this has put the reliability of radioactive dating into question. For instance, if radiometric dating method is a truth, it should follow the rule of half life in which rubidium-87 should take 48.8 billion years for it to be transformed into strontium-87. As it would take an immediate transformation from rubidium-87 to strontium-87, the reliability of the computation of age by means of radiometric dating would be in question.
    e)Potassium-40 (Parent Isotope) to Argon-40 (Daughter Isotope):
    The following is the http://www.ehow.com/way_5229579_fossil-dating-techniques.html
    (Unfortunately, only 11 of 100 decayed K-40 atoms become argon-40, and only one of every 10,000 potassium atoms is the K-40 isotope; fortunately, potassium is one of the most abundant minerals on the Earth’s surface.)
    The phrase, 11 of 1000 decayed K-40 atoms become argon-40, as mentioned above implies the immediate transformation from K-40 to argon-40. As there is an immediate transformation from K-40 to argon-40 despite the amount is small as 11 out of 1000 decayed K-40, the reliability of radiometric dating method is in question. This is by virtue of it is mentioned that it would take a half life (or 1.25 billion years) for K-40 to turn up to be argon-40 and yet in reality it would take an immediate effect for the transformation. Even if one would suggest that 11 out of 1000 would turn up to be argon-40 and would take 1.25 billion years to process the balance of 989 (1000-11) atoms, how could the scientists account for 11 to be immediate and the balance of 989 atoms to 1.25 billion years not proportionally?
    f)Samarium-147 (Parent Isotope) to Neodymium-143 (Daughter Isotope):
    The following is the extract from the 6th paragraph from the website address, http://www.chemicool.com/elements/samarium.html:
    (It wasn’t until 1885 that Carl Auer von Welsbach established that ‘didymium’ was actually composed of two distinct, new elements: neodymium and praseodymium.)
    The above extract mentions that didymium consists of neodymium and praseodymium and yet didymium was found in Samarium. With the discovery, they conclude that Samarium could turn up to be Neodymium in 106 billion years. Their conclusion that Samarium could turn up to be Neodymium is not based on seeing the physical transformation from one to another, but the substance, Neodymium, was found in Samarium. That has caused us in doubt about the reliability of radiometric dating method.
    Could Samarium be able to isolate itself in the air without influence? No, it could not since the website address, http://www.elementsales.com/re_exp/index.htm, shows the immediate chemical reaction upon Samarium when it has contacted with air. The following is the extract from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samarium:
    [Samarium ( /səˈmɛəriəm/ sə-MAIR-ee-əm) is a chemical element with symbol Sm and atomic number 62. It is a moderately hard silvery metal which readily oxidizes in air. Being a typical member of the lanthanide series, samarium usually assumes the oxidation state +3. Compounds of samarium(II) are also known, most notably monoxide SmO, monochalcogenides SmS, SmSe and SmTe, as well as samarium (II) iodide. The last compound is a common reducing agent in chemical synthesis. Samarium has no significant biological role and is only slightly toxic.]
    The phrase, Samarium…hard silvery metal which ready oxidizes in air, as mentioned above implies the ease to respond to air in chemical reaction. The ease in chemical reaction with the contact of air would certainly affect the quality of Samarium and even the radioactive decay since it would not be solely Samarium but other elements that would form a new compound with it to increase or reduce its decay. This certainly would put radioactive dating method into question.
    Could scientists be able to separate Neodymium from Samarium? The following is the extract under the sub-title, Abstract, from the website address, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0003267094002746:
    (A separation scheme for strontium and light rare earth elements and its application to the isotopic analysis of strontium and neodymium in silicate rocks are presented. This method benefits from the selectivity and high capacity of two newly introduced extraction Chromatographic materials, referred to as Sr.Spec and TRU.Spec, respectively. These afford a straightforward separation of Sr and Sm + Nd with high yield, good purity and satisfactory blank levels, on very small (0.25 ml) columns using small volumes of solutions of a single mineral acid, HNO3.)
    The phrase, These afford a straightforward of Sr and Sm + Nd…using small volumes of… HNO3, gives the information that scientists could separate Samarium and Neodymium through mineral acid, HNO3.
    Could Neodymium be able to stand alone from scientific point of view? Let’s observe the sequence of pictures of Neodymium in direct contact in air as shown in the website address, http://www.elementsales.com/re_exp/index.htm. For instance, if Samarium would turn up to be Neodymium-143 in a half life and that is 106 billion years, there would not be another half life for it since it would corrode in the air and ultimately vanish since it could not be isolated itself in the air. The computation of Samarium-Neodymium isotopes by means of radiometric dating method presumes Neodymium still retains for another half life and yet in reality, it could not. This has put the accuracy of radiometric dating method by means of Samarium-147 due to the possible corrosion of Neodymium-143 to its ultimate vanishing in the beginning of another half life. The computation of age through isotope by means of samarium has presumed that neodymium would continue for another half life once samarium has turned up to be neodymium after the initial half life. Yet in reality, neodymium would vanish instead of continuing its existence. As the reality is different from the assumption that is set up in radioactive dating method, the accuracy of the age that would have computed through this method is in question.

    Comment by milton — September 28, 2012 @ 11:55 pm | Reply


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