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Author Topic:   Assessing the Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (RATE) Project
Adminnemooseus
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Message 1 of 36 (563206)
06-03-2010 9:20 PM


{The following message is originally by Coyote, located at message 145 of the "Biological classification vs 'Kind'" topic. It is pretty off-topic there, thus this new topic. - Adminnemooseus}

Your post is nothing but PRATTS (points refuted a thousand times).

I'll take on one (don't want to spoil the fun for others):

3. You are correct that over the past century science has observed a fairly steady rate of radio-isotope decay. However, assuming that same constant rate of decay for 4+ billion years is a bad assumption. As it turns out radio-isotope half-lives can vary substantially based upon a host of factors.

The RATE Group attempted to document the variability of the decay constant, spending over a million dollars of creationists' money. They failed.

Here is a good review of their project: Assessing the RATE Project: Essay Review by Randy Isaac.

A couple of paragraphs from the conclusion:

The conclusions of the RATE project are being billed as “groundbreaking results.” This is a fairly accurate description since a group of creation scientists acknowledge that hundreds of millions of years worth of radioactivity have occurred. They attempt to explain how this massive radioactivity could have occurred in a few thousand years but admit that consistent solutions have not yet been found. The vast majority of the book is devoted to providing technical details that the authors believe prove that the earth is young and that radioisotope decay has not always been constant. All of these areas of investigation have been addressed elsewhere by the scientific community and have been shown to be without merit. The only new data provided in this book are in the category of additional details and there are no significantly new claims.

In this book, the authors admit that a young-earth position cannot be reconciled with the scientific data without assuming that exotic solutions will be discovered in the future. No known thermodynamic process could account for the required rate of heat removal nor is there any known way to protect organisms from radiation damage. The young-earth advocate is therefore left with two positions. Either God created the earth with the appearance of age (thought by many to be inconsistent with the character of God) or else there are radical scientific laws yet to be discovered that would revolutionize science in the future. The authors acknowledge that no current scientific understanding is consistent with a young earth. Yet they are so confident that these problems will be resolved that they encourage a message that the reliability of the Bible has been confirmed.

Another review: Do the RATE Findings Negate Mainstream Science? by Greg Moore

One of the concluding paragraphs:

Young-earth creationists have long claimed there is no evidence for an old Earth. The fact that billions of years of nuclear decay have occurred in Earth history has been denied by most young-earth creationists. Now, the RATE team has admitted that, taken at face value, radiometric dating data is most easily and directly explained by the Earth being billions of years old. This is a remarkable development because no longer can young-earth creationists claim it is merely the naturalistic worldview that makes scientists believe rocks and minerals are millions or billions of years old.

Summary: there is no good evidence for significant changes in the decay constant, and creationists who spent a lot of time and money researching the issue had to admit that.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Red text at top.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Added the "Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth" part to the topic title.


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Coyote, posted 06-03-2010 9:58 PM Adminnemooseus has acknowledged this reply
 Message 10 by glowby, posted 06-06-2010 2:14 AM Adminnemooseus has acknowledged this reply

    
Adminnemooseus
Director
Posts: 3549
Joined: 09-26-2002
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Message 2 of 36 (563207)
06-03-2010 9:30 PM


Thread Moved from Biological Evolution Forum
Thread moved here from the Biological Evolution forum.
    
Coyote
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Message 3 of 36 (563209)
06-03-2010 9:58 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Adminnemooseus
06-03-2010 9:20 PM


Bump for BobTHJ
A continuation of our discussion from the "Kind" thread.

Please support your contention that the decay constant is so variable that it can't be trusted, and is inappropriate as an assumption in radiometric dating.

{Thanks Adminnemooseus}


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Coyote
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Joined: 01-12-2008
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 4 of 36 (563394)
06-04-2010 5:39 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Coyote
06-03-2010 9:58 PM


Re: Bump for BobTHJ
Bump again for Bob.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Coyote, posted 06-03-2010 9:58 PM Coyote has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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RAZD
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From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 5 of 36 (563418)
06-04-2010 7:49 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Coyote
06-04-2010 5:39 PM


Re: Bump for BobTHJ
amusingly, Bob's not here ...

Enjoy.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Guess.


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Coyote, posted 06-04-2010 5:39 PM Coyote has responded

Replies to this message:
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Coyote
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Posts: 4642
Joined: 01-12-2008
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 6 of 36 (563420)
06-04-2010 7:53 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by RAZD
06-04-2010 7:49 PM


Re: Bump for BobTHJ
He tried the Gish Gallop on us, spewing forth any number of PRATTs. But he has been called on this one.

Now he either has to defend it or look foolish.

My guess is he does not have the background to defend it himself, so he'll either duck or be scouring the creationist websites hoping they'll bail him out.

I'm betting on "duck."

{Part of message hidden - Adminnemooseus}

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Guess.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by RAZD, posted 06-04-2010 8:02 PM Coyote has not yet responded
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 Message 9 by AZPaul3, posted 06-04-2010 9:24 PM Coyote has not yet responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 15735
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 7 of 36 (563422)
06-04-2010 8:02 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Coyote
06-04-2010 7:53 PM


Re: Bump for BobTHJ
The Duck-and-Run is usually what follows when the Shuck-and-Jive fails.

I've noticed that our PhD in Physics dkroemer on The Truth About Evolution and Religion appears to have run off as well. No dice for him?

Ah well, all fun and games come to an end.

Enjoy.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Guess.


This message is a reply to:
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hotjer
Member (Idle past 919 days)
Posts: 113
From: Denmark
Joined: 04-02-2010


Message 8 of 36 (563424)
06-04-2010 8:09 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Coyote
06-04-2010 7:53 PM


Re: Bump for BobTHJ
In the other thread he said he will be away the whole weekend before he can answer any more posts.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Coyote, posted 06-04-2010 7:53 PM Coyote has not yet responded

    
AZPaul3
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Posts: 2356
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 9 of 36 (563432)
06-04-2010 9:24 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Coyote
06-04-2010 7:53 PM


Fangs of Fear
I'm betting on "duck."

As well he should.

Them coyotes got sharp teeths.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Guess.


This message is a reply to:
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glowby
Member
Posts: 35
From: Fox River Grove, IL
Joined: 05-29-2010


Message 10 of 36 (563602)
06-06-2010 2:14 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Adminnemooseus
06-03-2010 9:20 PM


Hi Coyote!

Re: this post that inspired this new topic ...

Coyote writes:

Summary: there is no good evidence for significant changes in the decay constant, and creationists who spent a lot of time and money researching the issue had to admit that.

It seems the Institute of Creation Research and the Creation Research Society initiated the program. The ICR now says about it at their site, “...However, the team of seven creation scientists have discovered incredible physical evidence that supports what the Bible says about the young age of the earth.” I can't find CRS's take on it.

I googled a bit on “rate project radiometric”. Almost all of it was Creationists claiming victory! The wiki stuff didn't suggest a conclusion to the study. Have you got more?

Was the Discovery Institute involved? Invited?

Have you seen any details of the human impact of the project? Was it a contentious conference? Was it just a bunch of emails?


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Coyote
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Posts: 4642
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Message 11 of 36 (563643)
06-06-2010 9:42 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by glowby
06-06-2010 2:14 AM


Bump for BobTHJ
There are two detailed reviews of their findings available. I have linked to both in my post at the beginning of this thread.

Summary: Their results confirmed what science has concluded, but they refused to believe them. Rather, they prefer to believe that some (undiscovered) process will let things come out the way they want.

Edited by Coyote, : No reason given.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
This message is a reply to:
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JonF
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(1)
Message 12 of 36 (563682)
06-06-2010 1:52 PM


In fact, it appears that one of the RATE results the YECs have trumpeted widely actually supports the old-earth radiometric dating! The ASA collection of relevant links includes links to several works by Dr. Gary Loechelt, who has applied mainstream diffusion analysis to the RATE work on helium in zircons, and found many errors. His work should be more widely known.

Helium Diffusion in Zircon: Flaws in a Young-Earth Argument, Part 1 (of 2) (non-technical blog post)
Helium Diffusion in Zircon: Evidence Supports an Old Earth, Part 2 (of 2) (non-technical blog post)
Fenton Hill Revisited: The Retention of Helium in Zircons and the Case for Accelerated Nuclear Decay (technical paper)

Helium evidence for a young world continues to confound critics ("response" by Dr. Humphreys)
Helium Diffusion in Zircon: A Response to Questions by the Rate Team (Dr. Loechelt's non-technical response to Dr. Humphreys)
A Response to the RATE Team Regarding Helium Diffusion in Zircon (Dr. Loechelt's more detailed response to Dr. Humphreys)

In adddition, Dr. Loechelt has been discussing his models and RATE at Helium in Zircons?, and has posted several additions and amplifications in that thread..


  
BobTHJ
Member (Idle past 1372 days)
Posts: 119
Joined: 06-02-2010


Message 13 of 36 (563769)
06-06-2010 7:24 PM


Sorry for the delayed reply.

quote:
Your post is nothing but PRATTS (points refuted a thousand times).

Humor me....I haven't reviewed this in depth before.

I reviewed your links as well as a few other papers/articles on this subject. I don't claim to have a full grasp on the entirety of the RATE project, its results, or criticisms.

I agree that the RATE project demonstrates a long period of radioactive decay based upon the modern (assumed) constant - and debunks the creationist hypothesis (of the time) that such decay did not exist. I also agree that the RATE conclusion of accelerated decay comes with a lot of unanswered questions.

The RATE project though does provide SOME evidence for a young-earth. The piece I am the most familiar with is the helium diffusion in zircon prediction - this was a blind study that resulted in an accurate prediction matching a 6,000 year old earth with accelerated decay at or near the beginning of that timespan. Here's a link to a more recent article Dr. Humphreys discussing/rebutting some of the criticisms of this experiment. The biggest detractor to this experiment seems to be Dr. Gary H. Loechelt, whose most recent critical review of this experiment (that I could find) is here. Reading through Dr. Loechelt's response it appears he validly shows how the RATE experiment results could be off - but the percentage is miniscule. From my understanding we're talking 30% of the surface helium (which is 1-2%) remaining - so the results may be off by less than 1/2 a percent - well within tolerable error limits, and nowhere near the hundred thousand orders of magnitude required for the data to fit an old-earth model. I admit I'm not following the second half of his article very well - so perhaps I'm missing something.

I don't think it is accurate to characterize the RATE project as a failure - any more than it's accurate for creationists to claim it to be a total success. It provided certain valuable data - destroying certain creationist hypotheses, but paving the way for others.

Is the RATE project's conclusion of accelerated decay a reasonable one? Given the YEC model I would say yes, hesitantly. I would suggest that it is important for creationists to devise some tests, make some more predictions, and gather evidence for this accelerated decay hypothesis in the near future, because it is probably one of the riskier hypotheses in creation science. I have not yet (but hope to) do some poking around to find out what creationist work is currently being done on this subject. If I find information of interest I'll be sure to post it here.


Replies to this message:
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JonF
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(1)
Message 14 of 36 (563790)
06-06-2010 8:32 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by BobTHJ
06-06-2010 7:24 PM


The RATE project though does provide SOME evidence for a young-earth. The piece I am the most familiar with is the helium diffusion in zircon prediction - this was a blind study that resulted in an accurate prediction matching a 6,000 year old earth with accelerated decay at or near the beginning of that timespan. Here's a link to a more recent article Dr. Humphreys discussing/rebutting some of the criticisms of this experiment

Note that there's precious little discussion and no rebuttal. See below.

The biggest detractor to this experiment seems to be Dr. Gary H. Loechelt, whose most recent critical review of this experiment (that I could find) is here. Reading through Dr. Loechelt's response it appears he validly shows how the RATE experiment results could be off - but the percentage is miniscule. From my understanding we're talking 30% of the surface helium (which is 1-2%) remaining - so the results may be off by less than 1/2 a percent - well within tolerable error limits, and nowhere near the hundred thousand orders of magnitude required for the data to fit an old-earth model. I admit I'm not following the second half of his article very well - so perhaps I'm missing something.

Sorry, you're missing something. Dr. Loecholt demonstrated that correct use of mainstream diffusion theory, the real temperature history of Fenton Hill, and the RATE group's data, that the inescapable conclusion is an old Earth. See section 3.5 and 4 of the technical paper listed above. See also the thread linked to above, where he derives the same conclusion from data published by Reiners in 2005.

In addition, in re Humphreys' "rebuttal", I've checked the primary sources and there's no question that Humphreys (or whoever actually did it) read the temperature graphs in his references backward. Humphreys thinks that Fenton Hill was hotter in the immediate past than it is today, whereas it really was cooler. If anything Dr. Loechelt understated the case for Humphreys' making an error. I'm astonished, and I don't have a high opinion of YECs to start with. Incredibly enough this blunder doesn't affect Humphreys' analysis, but it does highlight the amateurish nature of the RATE project and the inadequacy (to say the least) of the "peer review".

The major issue is whether one extrapolates the volume diffusion line to the temperatures of interest (as Loechelt does) or extrapolates the defect diffusion line to the temperatures of interest. Loechelt makes a good case based on references to noble gas diffusion studies from the 1960s up to 2005. Humphreys makes no case at all, he just assumes his method is correct.

Is the RATE project's conclusion of accelerated decay a reasonable one?

Not a chance. See, for example, the thread linked to above. I'm somewhat proud of digging up the dose data showing that the proposed accelerated decay would have killed Noah and the gang from radiation poisoning from the 40K in their bodies. And another poster pointed out that the uranium decay series would not be in secular equilibriium anywhere, which it is in many places. The list of show-stopping problems with accelerated decay is virtually endless. See, for example, The Constancy of Constants and The Constancy of Constants, Part 2.


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JonF
Member
Posts: 2763
Joined: 06-23-2003
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 15 of 36 (563802)
06-06-2010 9:24 PM


Science moves on ...
I can't resist posting an abstract that Dr. Loecholt posted a few hours ago:

quote:
Zircon (U–Th)/He thermochronometry in the KTB drill hole, Germany, and its implications for bulk He diffusion kinetics in zircon

Melissa R. Wolfe ⁎, Daniel F. Stockli

Earth and Planetary Science Letters 295 (2010) 69–82

This study presents new down-hole zircon (U–Th)/He (ZrHe) ages, laboratory He diffusion measurements, and numerical thermal modeling of ZrHe ages from the Continental Deep Drilling Project (KTB) in Germany to investigate He diffusion kinetics in zircon in nature over geologic timescales and to test the applicability of laboratory-derived He diffusion kinetics. Single grain laser (U–Th)/He ages, calculated using standard alpha ejection correction procedures assuming homogenous parent-nuclide distribution, display a systematic decrease in ZrHe ages from ∼112 to b1 Ma with increasing depth. Down-hole ZrHe results display consistent ages of ∼85±15 Ma down to ∼4.7 km, in agreement with rapid Cretaceous cooling documented by previous thermochronometric studies from the KTB drill hole. Below ∼5 km, ZrHe ages systematically decrease in age and are completely reset (b1 Ma) below ∼7.2 km. The temperature range (∼130–200 °C) in which ZrHe ages systematically decrease defines a well-behaved zircon helium partial retention zone (HePRZ). In addition, this study presents new, cycled step-heating experiments on zircon samples from the KTB drill hole. Results from these new KTB zircon diffusion experiments indicate an activation energy (Ea) of 160 kJ/mol and a frequency factory (Do) of 0.03 cm2 s−1 with an estimated closure temperature (Tc) of 181 °C, which are in excellent agreement with published He diffusion kinetics for zircon. To compare the ZrHe results and bulk diffusion kinetics, we modeled diffusion parameters using the well-established thermal history of the KTB drill hole. The computed zircon HePRZ for the KTB drill hole is consistent with observed down-hole ZrHe ages and published and KTB-specific laboratory-derived He diffusion kinetics. Our results from ZrHe analysis from the KTB drill hole suggest that He diffusion of zircon in nature may not be controlled by anisotropic diffusion behavior, but rather behaves in accordance with laboratory-derived diffusion kinetics. The observed ZrHe ages from the KTB drill hole are in excellent agreement with predicted ZrHe age data and underscore the validity and applicability of ZrHe dating as a reliable thermochronometer.


{emphasis added}

The last bolded piece means extrapolating the volume diffusion line, as Loecholt does and Humphreys doesn't.

There's been no new RATE research on helium diffusion in zircons since 2005, the second RATE book, and most of the work was done before 2003. Meanwhile there's an explosion of real scientific studies of helium diffusion in zircons and dating samples using that.

Any bets on whether the RATE group will ever produce anything new on this subject? Or was their only purpose to provide sciency-sounding justification for their religious beliefs, and they've acheived their purpose?


  
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