Various chemical elements are radio active to some degree. These elements are constantly disintegrating into other elements or isotopes. The rate of this disintegration can be measured. If a mineral contains enough of the original or the parent element and the new or the daughter element to be measured then a simple mathematical computation will tell how long the daughter element–that is the new element that the old element has disintegrated into–has been accumulating radiation.
The Case of the lost Whatchamacallit
This is not as complicated as it sounds. To demonstrate that fact, we use a simple illustration. Suppose a barrel of apples is taken off a truck and set along side another barrel. A man is taking apples out of one barrel and putting them into the other. Let us suppose that you come along as this transfer is in progress. You decide that you will time this operation to see how long it takes to remove an apple from barrel A (the parent barrel) and put it into barrel B (the daughter barrel). Your measurement tells you that it take 10 seconds to transfer an apples. Then you count the apples in the second barrel and there are 30 of them. So you conclude that this process has been going on for 5 minutes. This seems like a simple and basically fool proof deduction; but there are a number of considerations left out of this formula that makes it much more complex than it first seems. I will try to explain this in a simple language.
The Great Difficulty in Mineral Measurements
First of all, measurement of the amount of the elements in a given mineral is very complicated, difficult, and imprecise. In fact it is mostly a matter of theoretical interpretation. There are many uncertainties and limitations which are largely ignored by scientists who make these measurements. It is as if I were to say to you, “Based on the size of barrel A, I am sure that this man must have started this transfer with 10,000 apples.” But you say to me, “Well, maybe not. The truck carrying the barrel was stopped up the road and I think they may have put some apples off there. And then, I saw some apples scattered on the road by the big bump down near the bridge, and I think some apples may have bounced off the truck when they hit the bump. Also, someone said that the barrel was not full when the truck left the produce market.” So I say to you: “You can pretty much tell by how full barrel B is.” But you reply, “Perhaps, but what if barrel B already had some apples in it when the man started the exchange?”
These things illustrate in some small way the kinds of problems such measurements present. There are a number of different elements and minerals in which the elements are found that are used in these measurements. Let us take a case in point. One such discord accounts for sale scheme is based on the disintegration of uranium and thorium into lead. Both uranium and thorium are parent or original elements, and they break down through a change of elements and isotopes until they reach a condition where they are stable, which, in this case, is lead. It is sort of like a heavy air conditioning unit falling through the sky light of a five story building. It continues to break through floors and fall downward until it reaches the cement floor in the basement. It cannot break through the cement floor, so it stops and become stable with respect to its downward movement. In our analogy, lead is the cement floor. When the element reaches lead it cannot disintegrate any further. In order for this process to mean anything at all there must be a highly accurate measurement of how much of these elements were present in the mineral to start with and then the exact and precise rate of which they decayed. Another problem is that of common lead or lead that is non radiogenic. This lead cannot be used in the formula and so it must be discounted; but it has not been in the past.
Still another problem in making such measurements is that uranium is known to have leached out or leaked out of the rocks by way of weak acid solutions often found in rain water or sea water. The techniques necessary to make these measurements are extremely difficult and subject to very large error. Even so, these measurements have been accepted on faith by the scientists for whom this process suited their theories. And it is upon this basis that billion of years of age have been claimed for the earth. But now most of these same scientists have admitted that all the work done from 1930 to 1950 is useless because the errors were great, the methods were wrong, and conclusions were misleading.
This has prompted L. T. Aldrich, in an article entitled Measurement of Radio Active Age of Rocks, Science Digest volume 123 May 18, 1956, to say, “In fact the time scale given by Homes is based in part on these discordant or conflicting ages which are very difficult to interpret.” In other words, his information and his methods were wrong, and he used conclusions which did not agree among themselves. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to make anything useful out of this time scale. Yet historic geology, historic paleontology, and astronomy continue to use the age theories that were formulated before the turn of the century. There have been no new age theories that are in any significant use or degree of acceptance that have been developed since 1950.
To try to give sophistication and credibility to these radioactivity measurements, the half-life theory has been hatched up and thrown in. The half-life theory indicates how long it takes for half of a given element or isotope to disintegrate. There is not enough space for us to wade through all these various elements and isotopes and describe what has been theorized, and the flaws that render those theories useless. If we were to do so, we would see that common considerations relate to all of them.
1: How many apples were in barrel A, the parent, or original, to start with?
2: Were all the apples transferable or are some of them rotten and to be thrown away?
3: Has the rate of transfer always been the same or has it varied at times? And if it’s varied, how much is it varied? 4: How full is the second barrel, which is the new or the daughter, or in other words barrel B?
5: Is everything in barrel B apples or is there something else in there?
6: Did all the apples in barrel B come from barrel A or did Barrel B have some apples in it already?
Until you know the definite answer to all of these questions, you have no way of knowing how long this transfer has been going on. It may have been going on for hours, or it may just have started when we got there, and unless we can find someone who was there when it all started and knows exactly what the situation was from the beginning, we will never be able to do anything but guess.
The Half-Wittedness of the Half-Life Theory
The half-life theory tells us nothing about the past, even if the rates were unchanged, because it cannot tell us when it started. It is double talk-gobbledygook-filibustering that is deliberately designed to confuse, to mislead, and to buy time. By way of illustration, suppose we are walking in a building and we come into a room. On the fireplace mantle there is a candle in a brass holder. It is already burning when we come into the room. We are interested in this candle so we make some measurements. First, we measure the candle to see how long it is and we determine it is 10 inches long. We then note the time on our watches and decide to come back and check on this candle in five hours. When we come back, we discover that it is only five inches long. So now there are some things that we know. We know that the candle was already burning when we first saw it. We know that when we first saw it the candle was 10 inches long. We know that it is burning at the rate of an inch an hour. We know that if the environment remains the same, and nothing else happens to change the burn rate, it can continue to burn for five hours. Now, armed with that information, let us ask some questions:
- How long was the candle when it started burning?
- When did it start burning? How long has it been burning?
- Has it always burned at the rate of an inch an hour?
- Does the fact that it took five hours for five inches to burn mean that it has been burning for 10 hours, since it was 10 inches long when we first encountered it?