RADIOISTOPE DATING METHODS

Discussion in 'Science' started by A_Christian, Sep 29, 2004.

  1. A_Christian

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    ACTS & FACTS Vol. 33 No 10 October 2004

    ii Discussion

    "Most people believe that when the different radioisotope dating methods are used on the same rock unit they yield the same age. However, the radioisotope dating of these Grand Canyon rocks clearly demonstrate that the disagreement, or isochron discordance, is pronounced. Even when calculated error margins are taken into account the different radioisotope dating methods yield completely different "agea" that cannot be reconciled----1240+_84 Ma (Rb-Sr), 1655+_40 Ma (Sm-Nd), and 1883+_53 Ma (Pb-Pb). None of the obtained isochron "ages" corresponds to the "date" for any recognized event, neither the original lava eruptions nor the subsequent metamorphism."
     
  2. Paul of Eugene

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    As one samples public opinion in the Arab world, a puzzeling mystery occurs; many arabs assert as a fact that the United States Government was behind the world trade center attack of September 11! Why do they say such an obviously false thing? The answer has to lie in the ultimate capacity for the human mind to involve itself in self deception.

    So it is with the creationists attacks on radioactive decay evidence. We do not find the reason in the actual science involved; instead, it is clear that some kind of psychological phenomenon that is immune to normal standards of evidence is at play here. People who are normally sane and logical accept the most preposterous things as if they were true and no evidence will dissuade them. It is something we simply have to live with, and trust that with better education and discussion, the next generation will have a better start at forming valid reliable opinions.

    Attacks on the validity of using radioactive decay evidence to establish the age of the earth usually consist of (a) coming up with an example where the method did not work or (b) flat denial that radioactive decay is capable of working at all.

    There are reasons why some examples don't work. For example, If you take a rock that didn't completely melt in a given volcanic event, that failure to completely melt will affect some dating methods.

    For the purposes of deciding in broad, however, whether or not the earth is older than 10,000 years or thereabouts, it is not enough to disprove any one dating example. One must disprove them all! Surely that is a daunting task to confront - unless we go to option b.

    Obtion b is to assert that radioactive decay is inherently unreliable. This is a very strange option to take based on the evidence, because . . . the rates of radioactive decay are virtually immune to anything that would change them! They are not affected by changing magnetic fields, changing temperatures, changing chemical conditions . .

    and astronomical observations show that distant starlight, coming from millions of years in the past, shows us radioactive decay occuring at the same rate, anyway!

    Faced with all this evidence that radioactive decay results are certainly good enough to establish that the earth is much more than 10,000 years old, what do creationists do?

    Do they come up with anything reasonable in terms of science? No. THey just go back to their tired old "Some of the tests came back with invalid results" argument or "no, no, it can't have been constant, it must have varied . . . " against all the observations of consistency they could possibly ask for!
     
  3. UTEOTW

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  4. Gup20

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    The fact of the matter is --- almost all dating methods do not work on rocks that are 'younger' than a few hundred thousand or low millions of years. If the Bible is true, and the earth is 6000 years old, then all rocks are young rocks and the dating methods are woefully inadequate. I have spoken with 'experts' in geochronogy and got no answers when I pressed as to if the rocks are tested and retested until the pre-supposed answer is found. In fact very few initial test results are used, as they tend to vary wildly until the scientists can 'do the tests correctly' to come out with the answer they 'knew' was right all along.

    And no matter how many times they deny it, or try to pass off it's significance, all dating methods STILL rely foundationally on assumptions. For example, the assumption of a lack of post-formation contamination, and the assumption of decay rates remaining the same are assumptions that go into radiometric dating. The fact still remains there are dating errors all the time... there are inconsistencies of grand magnatude all the time. I asked a radiometric dating 'expert' one time if he had EVER tried using the same tests on new rocks we knew the dates of (such as recent lava flows) with the same methods he was so certain were giving (pardon the pun) rock solid dates of millinos of years. He got pretty defensive and started giving me the 'why would I want to do that... if we know the date, there is no reason to use radiometric dating' on and on. He blew me off when I suggested it might be a good way to test the accuracy and reliability of his methods if he came up with the right dates on rocks we knew the age of. So even the so-called experts are aware of the flaws and they fear them greatly. This guy was willing to turn a blind eye completely to the idea that calibrating his equiptment on rocks we knew the dates of might be a good idea. That sure doesn't sound very scientific to me. Sounds more like religous dogma.
     
  5. Paul of Eugene

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    Lemme get this straight. Going through life with operating assumptions is a no no? Isn't that an operating assumption of its own? How can you justify using such an operating assumption?

    Let me tell you about radioactive dating of newly formed rocks. The methods used for dating volcanic melted rocks typically are used for dating back 50 to 150 or more million years back. They depend on the "assumption" that all gaseous radioactive decay elements such as argon or helium that were trapped in the solid rock are able to escape while the rock is molten.

    Do you think that is a bad assumption? That gases will bubble out of a rock in the molten state?

    Mostly they do but there is a little tiny bit that will sometimes stay dissolved in the rock anyway. This little tiny bit will give a false age reading of half a million years or so.

    It is like having a bathroom scale that reads one or two pounds instead of zero when nobody is standing on it. That does not mean you can't use those scales!
     
  6. The Galatian

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    Your argument, Gup, is not a foolish one. It makes sense.

    But beautiful theories are often killed by nasty little facts. Turns out that some methods very nicely date recent deposits...

    Precise dating of the destruction of Pompeii proves argon-argon method can reliably date rocks as young as 2,000 years
    http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/97legacy/pompeii.html
     
  7. UTEOTW

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    You have several problems right off.

    The first is that if dating methods are so universally flawed, then why do we generally get the right dates when we use an appropriate method on items of the right age. The Pompeii example above is a fine example as is the carbon dating of items of known age. When we use methods correct for the situation on items that we know the date of, we tend to gfet the right answer. Why?

    "If the Bible is true, and the earth is 6000 years old, then all rocks are young rocks and the dating methods are woefully inadequate."

    Another mistake. If the rocks really were only 6000 years old or less, then the dating methods that are used to show ages in the millions or billions of years would all show an effective age of zero. They do not. YOu have a hard time explaining this. Especially once you consider the consistancy of the dates. For instance, you see a linear relationship when you plot the ages of the Hawaiian volcanoes against their distance from the current location of the active volcanoes due tot he hot spot. What is the alternative? When you measure the rate of spreading of the Atlantic seafloor the dates of rocks at varying distances from the mid-Atlantic ridge is consistent with the spreading of the ocean floor at the measured rate for miilions of years. Please tell us why this is wrong and how you better explain the dat in a young earth.

    "For example, the assumption of a lack of post-formation contamination"

    This is just the importance of proper sample selection. A qualified geologists should be able to determine if the inside of a solid rock has been altered. And some methods will check for errors the geologist missed. For example if a rock has been subjected to contamination, then isochron dating will not yield an isochron. The points will fail to fall on a line. So you have two checks.

    "and the assumption of decay rates remaining the same"

    Please demonstrate why this is a bad assumption. Present a plausible physics in which the decay of isotopes inside solid rock would be changed without leaving evidence.

    But this does not even have to be an assumption. Light travels at a finite speed. By looking into space we are looking back in time. And as far back as we can look, the decay rates are the same. How do we know? I'll give you one way. The light curve of a supernova is largely dependent on the decay of short lived isotopes. As far back as we can look, the decay curves are the same.

    "I asked a radiometric dating 'expert' one time if he had EVER tried using the same tests ..."

    I think the response you got was more because of your lack of understanding of choosing the proper method for dating an object. What would your reaction be if I asked you to measure the width of a human hair with your car's odometer? That's what you were asking him to do.
     
  8. jcrawford

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    Evolutionists assume that the rates of all physical processes are the same yesterday, today and forever.

    It's called uniformitarianism and we're all supposed to believe in it according to the dictates of evolutionists ever since Lyell and Darwin.
     
  9. UTEOTW

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    First, uniformitarianism is a geology concept. It has nothing to do with dating using radioactive isotopes.

    Second, the key assuption would be that the rates were the same in the past. This DOES NOT have to be assumed. Light has a finite speed. Therefore when we look into space, we can see radiactive isotopes decaying in the past. The rates are the same.

    Third, do you have any empirical and logical statements against uniformitarianism? That is, can you show us that any cause today would leave a different effect than it would have done in the past? If you cannot show this, then you have no complaint against uniformitarianism.
     
  10. jcrawford

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    UTE:

    "First, uniformitarianism is a geology concept. It has nothing to do with dating using radioactive isotopes."

    Lyell's Principle of Uniformitarianism may be applied in all cases where scientists attempt to reconstruct the past based on current observations and beliefs about physical processes which may be occurring today.

    "Second, the key assuption would be that the rates were the same in the past. This DOES NOT have to be assumed. Light has a finite speed. Therefore when we look into space, we can see radiactive isotopes decaying in the past. The rates are the same."

    This is faulty logic due to the fact that your conclusions are based on your premises. It's called the tautological method, or circular reasoning to some.

    "Third, do you have any empirical and logical statements against uniformitarianism?"

    Merely to point out that Lyellian uniformitarian princlples form the basis of a scientific philosophy which fails to rely on the fundamental empiricism required for practical and applied science. Lyellian science is thoroughly abstract, totally speculative and entirely theoretical. It makes for great science fiction but unfortunately is totally divorced from normal reality.

    "That is, can you show us that any cause today would leave a different effect than it would have done in the past? If you cannot show this, then you have no complaint against uniformitarianism."

    I think it is up to scientists to "show" what effects the sun or moon had upon people a million years ago. If scientists cannot "show" us what people looked like or how they behaved a million years ago then we all have every right to complain about Sir Charles Lyell's Principle of Uniformitarianism and Sir Charlie Darwin's Principle of Evolution.
     
  11. Paul of Eugene

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    ??? You've really got me wondering here. We observe a supernova 200,000 light year's distance, and we observe the afterglow from radioactive decay to be the same time line for the same decaying elements produced in our atomic reactors, and conclude that 200,000 years ago radioactive decay took just as long as it does today. Now where in all this can you possibly see "CIRCULAR REASONING?" I call it DIRECT OBSERVATION.

    In other words, claiming that things were normal then as they are not is not normal reality.

    Lyellian science is througly grounded in meticulous observation of good solid field work and would never have been proposed without evidence. It is the theoretical rejection of all evidence by some theological points of view that is totally divorced from normal reality.

    A million years ago, Sunshine provided light, heat, and energy for plant life that provided necessary oxygen. The moon caused tides.
     
  12. jcrawford

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    What you call DIRECT OBSERVATION, I call inferred beliefs.

    According to calculations based on light-year theories, one may not even observe which particular stars are out tonight.
     
  13. Paul of Eugene

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    Originally posted by Jc:
    This galaxy is 2 or 3 million light years away. This means we are seeing it as it was more than 2 million years ago. However, I believe it is still there even now. I also consider this to be as a result of direct observation.

    Do you have a problem with those concepts? Am I being unreasonable to think that way?

    http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap000908.html
     
  14. jcrawford

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  15. Gup20

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    In these cases we do not have to make assumptions about contamination generally. One of the Biggest assumptions that must be made is that there was no contamination and that the decay rate remained the same (again a uniformitarian mindset - uniformitarianism is soundly rejected by scripture). On items we know the date of, we can also say with certainty the decay rate and the lack of contamination. On creation rocks, we cannot use a uniformitarian mindset because the Bible is pretty clear that much was changed after Adam's fall. For example, we see that the "whole earth groaned" after Adam's sin. There was no human death before the fall (Romans 5:12, Gen3), and there was no sin before Adam The natural laws of decay and entropy (which creationists and the christian evolutionists here both agree were set by God) would, therefore, be different. Why doesn't uniformitarianism work? Because God changed Nature itself at The Fall.

    Because we have been able to observe decay rates under different conditions up to a billion times the rate of normal (src), we can definitively say that decay rates may NOT have been the same at all points in time, and the uniformitarian assumptions that they have remained the same over billions and billions of years has very little credibility.
     
  16. UTEOTW

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    DO you realize that you case for accelerated decay takes place in a fully ionized atom? Do you understand what this means? This means that it has been heated to such a degree that not only has it melted AND vaporized, but also so much energy has been added that the temperature has increased to the point that ALL of the electrons, all 66 of them, have been driven away! How on earth do you think that this has ANYTHING to do with normal conditions? Where is the logic that says that such extreme conditions should have any bearing on the processes we are trying to understand? This is evidence that the YEers wil go to any length, stretch any truth if they think it might support them. In the end, they merely expose the weakness of their position for there is no logical case to be made for how atoms under such extreme conditions have any bearing on what happens at the conditions actually experienced.

    "In these cases we do not have to make assumptions about contamination generally."

    Nope. Contamination can happen in 15 minutes just as easily as it can in 15 million years. The question is whether you have evidence of contamination. We are talking about the inside of solid rock here!

    "One of the Biggest assumptions that must be made is ... that the decay rate remained the same."

    No need to assume. We can observe the isotopes decaying in space. Because of the finite speed of light, they are seen decaying in the past. There decay rates, even in the distant past, match those of today in the lab.

    Furthermore we can date items of known age. We get the right age when we do. Another confirmation that whatever assumption might be involved is correct.

    "again a uniformitarian mindset - uniformitarianism is soundly rejected by scripture"

    Just where does scripture say that radioactive decay rates were different in the past? This would be as funny as your claims about special relativity being addressed in the Bible if you were not actually serious.

    "On items we know the date of, we can also say with certainty the decay rate and the lack of contamination."

    Huh? You just said that decay rates might have been different in the past. Are you suggesting that you have a chart that shows what the decay rate was for a given isotope at various times in the past and it was different than what we see now?!? Can I have a peek?

    "On creation rocks, we cannot use a uniformitarian mindset because the Bible is pretty clear that much was changed after Adam's fall."

    Tell us which rocks these are. Tell us which rocks were original, which formed before the flood, which formed in the flood, and which formed after the flood.

    Why are the rocks sorted by their ratios of radioactive materials then?

    You are aware that evidence for life has been found even in the oldest of rocks. Why would these original rocks from the creation contain fossil life?

    "The natural laws of decay and entropy "

    Please do not attempt to associate decay with entropy unless you can back it up. I'll breeak out the statements of entropy from my thermo textbook if you wish to go down that route. I would not suggest it.
     
  17. Gup20

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  18. UTEOTW

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    Just to give ONE problem with your "Startlight and Time" proposal...

    Just where is the expected blue shift of starlight? Light climbing out of a gravitational well is red shifted and light falling in is blue shifted. If we were deep in a gravitional well as described, we should see blue shifted light from the cosmos. Instead we see red shifted light.

    Maybe more later...
     
  19. UTEOTW

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    Just what distribution of matter in the universe does Humphreys predict in his book? What kind of pattern in the Cosmic Microwave Background does he predict? And what is the logic behind these predictions?

    Inflation predicted that the universe should appear to be flat, that is that the amount of mass and energy should appear to be perfectly balanced between what would be required to gravitationally stop the expansion and there not being enough mass and energy to ever stop the expansion.

    It may have appeared in trouble when observations showed that the univese contained only 5% of the visible mass and energy required. It looked a little better, but not much, when studies of the motions of galaxies and galaxy clusters revealed that about 25% of the mass and energy was in the form of dark matter. But it became extraordinary a few years ago when studies of distant supernova revealed that 70% of the needed mass was in the form of dark energy. Now observation exactly matches what was predicted even though it could not be known at the time.

    Inflation predicts that quantum flucuations at the time of inflation got blown up into differences in density on large scales that led to the formation of galaxies. It predicted that the patterns in the CMB should match a particular pattern based on the distribution of galaxies today. Amazingly, in recent years, the predictions have been shown to be true with astounding accuracy.

    Does YE have any such predictions? Can Humphreys explain these features of the universe?
     
  20. UTEOTW

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