Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Existence of Polonium Radiohalos Gives Evidence of a Young Earth

To review a little bit- radioisotope dating, which has long been an obstacle to creation scientists, assumes a constant rate of decay (uniformitarianism). Creation scientists have long theorized that there may have been one or more episodes of accelerated decay in the past, most likely during creation week, or possibly the flood of the Bible. These episodes of accelerated decay would allow for a billion years or more of radioactive decay to occur within a few thousand years. You see why the theory is attractive to creation scientists. The problem with this theory of accelerated decay is that according to mathematical models and our current understanding of physics, unimaginable amounts of energy would be released- so much so that life could not survive it- perhaps not even the planet. This conjures up images of a Doomsday scenario. Obviously, if episodes of accelerated decay really did occur at sometime in our past, it must not have given off the excess heat predicted by such models.

Until recently this was merely educated guessing among creation scientists, some of my friends would say more like wishful thinking. But in the last few years several co-operative studies have found evidence that supports not only this theory of accelerated decay, but also that the accelerated decay was accompanied by rapid cooling. I told you last time about data from a He diffusion study that is “consistent with at most a short, moderate pulse of heating during and just after the accelerated decay episode”. (Radioisotopes and the Age of the earth vol. II pp. 68-69) In other words, the data and model from the He diffusion study reinforces the theory that accelerated decay may have coincided with rapid cooling which prevented the Doomsday scenario we envision from occurring. The question remains how?

Some creation scientists hypothesize that God’s “stretching out the heavens” (mentioned 17 times in the Bible) is a description of the expansion of the cosmos, which if it occurred rapidly enough could have dissipated the excess heat given off by the accelerated radioactive decay. This is just a theory, but the exciting thing is that there has been some evidence that indeed suggests accelerated decay accompanied by rapid cooling. Not knowing the mechanism of the rapid cooling, does not negate the evidence that it appears to have occurred. Tonight I want to continue with a second study that has also found data suggestive of accelerated decay accompanied by rapid cooling.

Radiohalos are very small darkened spheres found within biotite and other minerals that are formed by alpha nuclear decay. The significance of radiohalos is that they are a physical historical record of the decay of radioisotopes over a period of time.

Polonium (Po) is a radioisotope that is in the decay chain of Uranium (U) 238. It takes at least 100 million years worth of decay to supply enough Po to generate the Po radiohalos observed. So what, that would support the theory of an old earth, right? Wrong. The interesting thing is that U and Po radiohalos have been found together in the same flakes of biotite suggesting simultaneous formation and Po has a very short half-life (micro seconds to months depending on which isotope). In order to explain the abundance of Po radiohalos, a lot of Po had to have been produced rapidly. This suggests a period of accelerated decay of U 238. “If 100 million years worth of U 238 decay had to have occurred while the Po radiohalos were forming, then this implies the U 238 decay had to have been grossly accelerated so that the 100 million years worth of U 238 decay could be fitted into the hours and days over which the Po isotopes accumulated in the radiocenters from which the Po radiohalos concurrently formed.” (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth vol. II p. 153) In other words, given the millions of years scenario, the Po wouldn’t have hung around long enough to form radiohalos (half-life is too short).

What’s more, these radiohalos have been shown to have an annealing temperature of 150 degrees Celsius, above which they are obliterated and no longer visible. This means the radiohalos must have been formed, and have survived ever since, at temperatures below 150 degrees Celsius. “Therefore, the cooling of granites (in which the biotite with radiohalos was found) and the formation of radiohalos must be rapid and decay rates must be accelerated. So the rapid formation of granites and the Po radiohalos are a strong argument for a young earth.” (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth vol II p 744)

The investigators talk a great deal in this article about the evidence these Po radiohalos provide of the Flood, but I’d rather wait and consider multiple lines of Flood evidence together. For now, I want to reiterate the findings that U and Po radiohalos found together suggest an epidode of accelerated nuclear decay, and the annealing temperature of 150 degrees Celsius proves that they have been preserved at a temperature below that since their formation. So, again, it appears that at least one episode of accelerated day has occurred and that it was not accompanied by the enormous release of heat that would be expected by accelerated nuclear decay. Any rise in temperature over 150 degrees Celsius would have obliterated the radiohalos, so the accelerated decay must have coincided with some type of rapid cooling that kept the biotite under 150 degrees Celsius. The investigators hypothesize that hydrothermal currents may have contributed to the cooling effect, but agree that it would not be enough to keep the biotite under 150 degrees. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that we now have a second line of evidence that accelerated radioactive decay occurred at least once in our past and that it coincided with a cooling effect that prevented our aforementioned Doomsday scenario. Given this evidence for one or more periods of accelerated decay, the age of the earth would be much younger than that estimated by radioisotope dating methods that assume a constant rate of decay. And remember, a young earth kills the theory of evolution.


  1. And it gets more technical. I admire anyone who can and will take the time to understand all these things, and then attempt to explain them to 'lazy' people like me. Thank you. I am always interested in hearing the evidence of a young earth.

  2. Palonium halos? /facepalm

    Once again with the magic handwaving away billions of years of heat & radiation.

    Lets start with the Christian site first.

    "Of course this is the real issue. How do you get polonium halos with no parent (uranium and thorium) halos? DeYoung mentions that the movement of polonium atoms away from their uranium source has been discussed and debated. To DeYoung's credit, he notes that Radon-222, the parent of polonium, is a gas, and it readily migrates outward. As DeYoung notes, these polonium halos are always found near uranium halos. He also notes that the polonium halos are located along cleavages, cracks, or crystal defects, which can serve as the conduit for moving the gas. However, he then makes an unfounded assumption. He says "The isotope transport activity would take place during the latter stages of crystallization and cooling of the granite magmas." Actually, one must cool the magma, then allow time for the parent Uranium 238 to decay into uranium-234, then allow it to decay into thorium-230, then allow that to decay into radium-226, and finally this decays into radon-222. Only then can this radon migrate, and after its short half-life of only 3.8 days, it decays into polonium-218. This is unworkable, as this model would seem to require the magma to have a cooling period of billions of years.

    In reality, the radon being a gas, as DeYoung noted earlier, freely migrates outward, even in a solid granite rock. There is no scientific evidence for DeYoung to claim that this happens during the cooling period.

    DeYoung suggests that the polonium formed in the newly-cooled magma, and then left the halos. This forces him to accept the unproved theory of accelerated nuclear decay. With this, the uranium halos are destroyed as the melt is still hot enough to be above the annealing temperature. After this rapid decay, the rock cools, and the polonium halos form. This all requires a very strict timeline. The rock must have accelerated decay, all the way from uranium-238 to polonium-218. With polonium-218's half life of 3.1 minutes, the rock must cool from a melt to below annealing temperature (~150 C) prior to polonium-218 decay.

    Look again at the pages describing this (pages 94-95). There is no hint of these strict timelines. DeYoung says that "the magma cooled to solid rock very rapidly." Given that it must cool in under three minutes, this is an extreme understatement! Readers are told bits and pieces, but not a coherent picture.

    Another problem exists. As previously discussed, the young earth scientist does not deny that this radiation occurred. Therefore, since you condense billions of years radiation into one week (or one year of the flood), you also condense billions of years of heat from this radiation into the same time frame, which essentially would melt the entire earth. Since you are reading this, your very existence testifies that this accelerated decay did not happen."


    "There is no better refutation of Gentry's model that I can offer than my own research reported in the above website: (1) Not all granites must be formed by crystallization from melts and (2) granites that contain Po halos do not require instantaneous formation. They can be formed by replacement conditions that allow millions of years for their production and in purely natural environments. Moreover, experimental work is included in articles 36 and 37 on my website that supports the hypothesis that some granites form at temperatures below melting conditions by chemical replacement processes. Thus, my model is not just theoretical but has field, microscopic, and experimental support."
    "Professional geologist Tom Bailleul takes a second look at Gentry's claimed polonium haloes, arguing that there is no good evidence they are the result of polonium decay as opposed to any other radioactive isotope, or even that they are caused by radioactivity at all. Gentry is taken to task for selective use of evidence, faulty experiment design, mistakes in geology and physics, and unscientific principles of investigation and argument style."

  4. I Am Blessed, please answer these two questions.

    1) Why would moving the galaxies further away from each other cool off the Earth's surface?

    2) If the Universe expanded as much as you imply, why didn't atoms fly apart?

    Secondly, Gentry claims to have studied granite when he actually took rock from a calcite-dike. What a surprise: a creationist falsified data or didn't know what he was talking about! And stromatolites are found in this rock proving that life had to have existed prior to this "accelerated decay." So much for accelerated decay during creation week as written in the Bible.

    By the by, the existence of fossils within the rock indicate that this rock was not primordial "basement" rock as claimed by Gentry.

  5. Debunky Monkey, it is my understanding that this study by Snelling actually refutes Gentry's original study. Snelling argues that the Po is secondary to U 238 decay and that its presence does not argue for fiat creation. pp 126-127 of volume II of Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth.

    As for your other question about the expansion of the cosmos. I refer you to pages 369-375 of volume I of Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth. Basically Humphrey applies Einstein's photelectric formula. "If space increases its radius of curvature while the photons are pushing, the photons then impart some of their energy to the motion of the fabric, increasing its kinetic energy."

  6. Bathtub, I'm not sure what you were referring to here: "Look again at the pages describing this (pages 94-95). There is no hint of these strict timelines."

    Pages 94 and 95 of what?

    Snelling does go over the half-lives of Po and says, "Whereas Po radiohalos would appear to indicate extrememly rapid geological processes were responsible for their production (because of the extremely short half-lives of the Po isotopes responsible." p. 108

    You said, "However, he then makes an unfounded assumption. He says "The isotope transport activity would take place during the latter stages of crystallization and cooling of the granite magmas."

    This assumption is not unfounded, but based on our knowledge of the annealing temp of Po radiohalos being 150 degrees Celsius. This model could be explained if rapid cooling occurred concomittantly with the accelerated decay.

    You said, "...hypothesis that some granites form at temperatures below melting conditions by chemical replacement processes."

    It has long been accepted by the scientific community at large that radiohalos are formed by alpha decay. Your source may be right that there is an alternate pathway, but not even he is suggesting that all or even most radiohalos were not formed by nuclear decay.

  7. The quote comes from the book review I linked from

  8. "Basically Humphrey applies Einstein's photelectric formula. "If space increases its radius of curvature while the photons are pushing, the photons then impart some of their energy to the motion of the fabric, increasing its kinetic energy.""

    You're kidding. Einstein's photoelectric formula, if I remember my physics correctly, is Kmax = hf - φ. K = the kinetic energy of an electron, h is Plank's constant, and f is the frequency of a photo.

    Phi is the minimum work function where hf is the lowest value in which the material will emit an electron.

    So let me boil this down for you. As light frequency decreases, so does the energy output of a struck material by said photon. This decreasing of frequency is called "red shift" and is attributable to the expanding universe.

    So there are two main points here.

    A) The photoelectric equation has nothing to do with photons magically imparting or erasing their energy into the vacuum of space potentially violating the conservation of energy.

    B) Expanding the universe actually decreases the energy released by materials when struck by photons due to the red-shifting of light striking the object to be cooled.

    C) Space isn't curved; it's flat and always has been flat. WMAP images and basic trig confirms this. So the "radius of curvature" is zero.

  9. One clear problem with "accelerated decay" is that there is no proposed mechanism. Decay rates have been researched for more than 100 years. I know of exactly two instances in which nuclear decay rates can be changed significantly:
    1)Critical mass in a nuclear chain reaction (which involves huge amounts of energy release)
    2)Temperatures over 200,000,000 K (which has its own very clear implications).

    Both of these are excluded due to the destructive consequences.

    There is no evidence of other physical condition that can significantly change decay rates. This goes right up to and including supernova explosions. The light spectra of supernova Sn1987a (distance 167,000+ light years) exhibits a decay rate for 56Co consistent with what is observed on Earth today. This data causes huge problems for all of the major creationist models.

    See my paper at:

    With no evidence of a mechanism for accelerated decay and evidence decay rates have been consistent there is no reason, other than Biblical apologetics, to toss out Occam's Razor.

    In other words, it looks like there has been 1.5 billion years of decay because the rocks are 1.5 billion years old.

    I'll be looking forward to your discussion of the flood..... it was physics, not evolution that caused me to reject a literal Genesis.

    There is significant reason to challenge the objectivity of the RATE report based on the participants pre-declared bias toward the evidence. Specifically, that any evidence not in keeping with (their literal reading of) the Bible is invalid by definition.

  10. I am Blessed wrote:
    And remember, a young earth kills the theory of evolution.

    Geno points out:
    And an ancient universe (let alone Earth) kills Young Earth Creationism.



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.