Re: >Re: >Design Flaw in the Brain

Glenn Morton (
Sat, 01 Nov 1997 17:59:10 -0600

At 03:38 PM 11/1/97, Moorad Alexanian wrote:
>At 08:39 PM 10/31/97 -0600, Glenn Morton wrote:

>>Given the limit on the speed of light, I would say that you have nothing BUT
>>the past to study (observationally). We see Andromeda as it was 2 million
>>years ago or so.
>That is true, but to attach dates to events implies assumptions about the
>constancy of fundamental constants, in particular, the speed of light. There
>is a distinction between what you think happened and what actually happened.
>Such difficulties do not arise when doing science as an experimental
>endeavor. I believe the same difficulties also arise in studies of the
>origin of man.

This was the approach I tried when I was a YEC. It failed miserably (and I
am embarassed that I ever suggested such a thing today). There is a very
self-contained observation that the fundamental constants have not changed.
It lies in the explosion of a star in the large Magellanic Cloud, 169,000
years ago. This is a modification of another note on the same topic I posted
earlier. First off, before someone says I believe in a change in c I don't.
But one can assume such a change and examine how the universe would be
different. Here is the post.

The fundamental physical method of timing any event in the cosmos is the
speed of light. I can show from non-relativistic assumptions that it must
have been constant.


In 1987 a supernova went off in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This thing was
observed less than 2 hours after the explosion. (Pictures of that region taken
Feb 23 9:22 GMT[I believe] showed no supernova. A picture taken Feb 23 10:39
GMT showed the supernova). About 6 months later, we began to detect a ring of
gas surrounding the supernova. This ring had been there prior to the
explosion but had been invisible because it was not illuminated. The geometry
is as follows:

---ring of gas
/\ .
| .
| .
| .
***supernova---------------------------------------> earth
| .
| .
| .
\/ .
---ring of gas

assuming this picture doesn't get mess-up by e-mail the .'s are the travel
path of the light from the ring to the earth.

diameter, we can measure the angular diameter of the ring from telescopes on
earth. (the 1.37 lightyear diameter is correct even if the speed of light
changed during its trip to earth. The reflection from the ring is 6 months
delayed at c today and might have been 1 month at c when it exploded. But
since the diameter is ct and any change in c inversely affects t, the
diameter is known accurately regardless of the speed of light when it occurred.)

From this, Knowing the angle subtended by the ring and knowing the diameter
of the ring, we can determine that supernova is 169,000 light-years
away. So when creationists like Lubenow write, in 1992,

"Many do not realize that the farthest direct age/distance
measurement we can make in the universe is limited to about
three hundred light years, done by triangulation using the
diameter of the earth's orbit as a baseline. All age/distance
measurements beyond that are indirect, and are based on
assumptions which may or may not be valid)."~Marvin L. Lubenow,
Bones of Contention, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992), p. 201

it merely shows that he has not done his research.

Now, can we use the supernova to determine how long it took the light to get
to earth? Yes. Theoretical models of supernovas had predicted that cobalt 56
would power the light decay curve early in its life. It would then be
replaced by the longer-half-lived cobalt 57 and the Co-56 vanished. What was

"Observations of Supernova 1987A stunningly confirmed the
prediction. Cobalt 56 has a half-life of 77 days; from 1987
through 1990, the visible light from the supernova faded at
exactly that rate. The Solar Maximum Mission satellite
andinstruments on National Aeronautics and Space Administration
research balloons alsodetected gamma rays from the supernova
carrying 847,000 and 1,238,000 electronvolts. These are
precisely the energies associated with the decay of cobalt 56."
"Since 1991 the visible light from supernova 1987A has faded
at a rate corresponding to a half-life of about 270 days, the
exact half-life of cobalt 57. It seems that cobalt 57 is now the
main radioactive isotope powering the supernova. OSSE has
followed up on the previous observations by detecting the
122,000-electron-volt gamma rays characteristic of the decay of
cobalt 57."~Neil Gehrels,Carl E. Fichtel, Gerald J. Fishman,
James D. Kurfess, Volker Schonfelder, "The Compton Gamma Ray
Observatory," Scientific American, Dec. 1993, p. 75

The observation verified the theoretical prediction, but it did more than
that. Fundamental physics shows that the rate of alpha decay is related to
the speed of light. Since the rates and energies of radioactive decay are
the same in the observations of the star 169,000 years ago, we can show that
the laws of physics haven't changed for that period of time.
By examining the consequences of a faster speed of light in the past, we can
determine what we should see in the past. If the speed of light were twice
as fast the only stable atoms would be below carbon 12!
This comes from the equation on p. 20 of Davies The accidental Universe and
that effect on nuclear stability seen in the Chart on page 326 of Barrow and
Tiplers' Anthropic Principle.

The fine structure is proportional to 1/c and a strong force constant/fine
structure constant value of .5 makes carbon radioactive. Almost all nuclei
would be giving off energy in the form of alpha decay. Thus the light curve
should not have decayed at today's decay rates for cobalt 56 and 57. There
would have been much more energy produced and the light curve would have
decayed much more slowly and the object would have been brighter with all
that radioactivity in the debris.

Seeing the same half-life and energies for
Co-56 and Co-57 on the star as we see here tells us that the speed of light
has not changed since the light left the star. This means that the light took
169,000 years to get here. This further means that the fundamental constants
have not changed. It further means that we CAN time things in the past and
strongly implies that your argument to anthropology is weak because we can
determine what happened in the past. If we can't how do we ever solve murders?

References in addition to the citations

N. Panagia et al., "Properties of the SN1987A
Circumstellar Ring and the Distance to the Large Magellanic
Cloud", _Astrophysical_Journal_ 380, L23-L26 (1991) gives the
distance as 51.2 +/- 3.1 kiloparsecs.

Bertram Schwarzschild,"Ring Around SN1987A Supernova Provides a New
Yardstick", _Physics_Today_, February 1991, page 20;

A good book is

Paul Murdin, _End in Fire_ Cambridge University Press 1990
**end of post

I wrote:
>>I absolutely agree with you that the Fall (a historical Fall of 2 people) is
>>essential. This was the most difficult item. But there are pseudogenes,
>>broken genes located at the same place in apes and man. Since a designer
>>would be unlikely to make a broken gene at the same place in 4 separate
>>species, this data are strongly indicative of common descent. The reply I
>>have heard from anti-evolutionists is that we will find a function for these
>>broken genes in the future. Of course they may be correct, but how long
>>must one wait?
>When you say "since a designer would be unlikely," aren't you placing
>constraints on the Creator?

Let me phrase what I said differently. I said that terribly badly. Design as
it is commonly assumed to exist would be unlikely. And no, I am not
constraining the Creator. God could do what he wanted. But at this point in
time it is certain that God chose one or another means of accomplishing his
task of creation. Thus, from our time frame, it is not constraints upon Gods
free will but it is now within our abilities to partly determine what course
of action He actually took. He is no longer "unconstrained" since He chose
to do one thing over another. And it is not my constraints but His.

>You say: "If we arose from the apes." Could the converse be true? Is that
>nonsensical? Could that point of view also be argued just as you do yours? I
>am curious.

No I don't think so. First, one must throw out the theological constraint of
the image of God. To argue the converse one must not have the image of God
go away in the generation of the apes and argue the point strictly upon an
atheistic view of man. Secondly, we are the only large brained, relatively
hairless primates. Prior to the appearance of Australopithecus, there were
no large brained primates in the fossil record. Thus, one has difficulty
saying that a large brained primate gave rise to small brained hairy
primates when there is no fossil evidence of it.

Also none of the primates have an enlarged Broca's area which is involved in
speech production, and none of the primates have asymmetry in their brains.
One would think that if we gave rise to them (as I believe Augustine held)
then there should be some of our traits found in them. None of them are


Foundation, Fall and Flood