Re: [asa] RATE's Radioactive Thorium Plot (was Ancient Universe)

From: Steven M Smith <smsmith@usgs.gov>
Date: Sat May 19 2007 - 11:22:51 EDT
This email combines my responses.  (Warning: Some of the statements below are meant to be humorous. At least, I am chuckling as I write them.  No offense is intended toward those who don't enjoy my weird sense of humor and off hand remarks.)
 
First of all, I want to thank Iain for illustrating my post with such excellent graphs and focused commentary!  <place tongue in cheek> When I get around to writing my RATE exposť, I will contact you for help in illustrating the book! <remove tongue from cheek> 
 
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Robert wrote:
> Thanks, Steve. Very enlightening. Perhaps by having all
> of the accelerated nuclear decay happen on creation
> days 1 and 2, the RATE team is trying to get around the
> difficulty of the burst of radiation killing off the plants
> that appear on day 3.
You are correct.  The creation of plants on day 3 is the evidence RATE uses to determine when the initial burst of accelerated nuclear decay ended.  I hope they will spell this out more clearly when they write their seminal paper for the highly-respected Nature or Science journals.
 
> However, I'm puzzled by this. Wouldn't the radiation
> linger over the whole creation week? Is there
> something I don't understand. Is the radiation
> captured by the rocks and kept from "leaking out"
> into the ground or the atmosphere prior to the Flood?
 
We should put this question to some of our physics experts on the list, but as I understand it -- No.  Radiation damage to living tissue is primarily caused by the escaping particles and gamma rays generated by the decaying radioisotope nucleus.  These effects only travel a 'short' distance before they are attenuated.  Think of it like a gun spraying bullets in all directions.  The bullets can cause a tremendous amount of damage but once they are stopped, the carnage is over.   (I will gladly take correction here from more knowledgeable sources if I am mistaken.)  I believe that the lingering radioactive contamination resulting from atomic bombs or nuclear power plant melt downs is due primarily to radioactive dust that can be ingested or inhaled.  Once in our bodies, the individual radioisotopes occasionally decay (at today's accepted half-life rates) shooting individual 'bullets' into surrounding tissue.
 
As Iain pointed out in his illustrations, the real lingering effect from this burst of accelerated nuclear decay would be heat.  The heat generated by radioactive decay today is sufficient to keep the interior of the Earth in a semi-molten state.  If you increase the rate of decay by a factor of 820 billion (4.1 b.y. divided by 2 days), then you also increase the heat generation at the same rate.  Without some serious mechanism for removing heat (a miracle perhaps?) you will vaporize the Earth during the first 2 days of Creation.
 
However, the second burst of accelerated nuclear decay during the Flood would cause tremendous radiation damage to anything living.  The RATE team speculates that Noah and his cargo was providentially protected from this radiation by (1) the immense amount of water between them and the crust below; (2) the ark (perhaps it was lead lined or pitch has undiscovered radiation shielding properties?); and (3) the unusually low pre-Flood amounts of radioactive K-40 and C-14 in their diet, bodies, and timber of the Ark.  (Perhaps RATE should set their scientific publication sights a little lower than Nature or Science.)
 
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Michael wrote:
> Thank you for this superb exposition of the
> most profound work ever produced on
> Radiometric age-dating. For that you deserve
> an honorary D.Sc from Liberty College
 
I am most humbled by your praise and recommendation.  The honorary D.Sc would be useful since I only have a M.Sc.  I set aside my Ph.D when I became a Da.D and had to get a Jo.B
 
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George wrote:
> & that's the sort of stuff that ASA is supposed
> to consider to be an example of science practiced
> with integrity?
 
All silliness aside, my cursory reading and checking of the statements in "Thousand... not Billions", suggests that there are at least a couple of the RATE studies that have a distinct odor.  Even though this book is an executive summary with only 16 references in total, checking the original cited literature suggests that some of the expensive and "new" radioisotope dating projects appears to be nothing more than duplicated studies of research already published many years before in professional journals.  They get the same expected results, do not acknowledge that their results were previously found by others, ignore the conclusions of the initial studies, use the results to cast doubt on the scientific methodology, and present the research as their own original ideas.  At a professional level in an academic setting this behavior, if substantiated, would probably warrent a serious review by an ethics board.
Steve
(As always, blame me for these statements & opinions and not my employer)
_____________
 Steven M. Smith, Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey
 Box 25046, M.S. 973, DFC, Denver, CO  80225
 Office: (303)236-1192, Fax: (303)236-3200
 Email: smsmith@usgs.gov
 -USGS Nat'l Geochem. Database NURE HSSR Web Site-
  http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/1997/ofr-97-0492/
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