Friday, September 16, 2005
BACKDATED: Helium Zircons and Radioisotope Dating
The RATE group's purpose is to investigate the phenomena presented by radioisotopes in rock. Their goal was to see if other, equally stable, measurements using wholly different phenomena would give similar dates or differing dates.
What they discovered was that when Uranium decays within zircon crystals, it leaves behind Helium. Helium, being a noble gas, is more-or-less free within the crystalline structure. The RATE group determined that the rate of Helium diffusion within a zircon crystal should be very reliable. They performed experiments to determine precisely at what rate Helium diffuses through the crystal. Also, because of the hardness of the zircon crystal, this rate would be negligably impacted by the pressures exerted by the Earth's crust.
What they discovered was that the crystals indeed had quite a bit of Helium left, which limitted the age of the rocks to 4,000 to 14,000 years. The RATE group believes that this is evidence that some radioisotope decay rates have changed over the years. What is certain is that when using radically different, but equally reliable dating methods, you get radically different answers. This indicates that the assumptions underlying one or both dating methods is wrong.
What was learned here? For sure, we learned two things:
1) Helium diffusion rates through crystal lattices is very regular
2) What the diffusion rates of Helium through zircon crystals actually are
The preliminary conjectures about this data by the researching team are these:
1) The age of rocks given by these diffusion rates
2) That radioisotope decay rates have changed through history
3) That possibly radioisotope decay rate changes are the act of God in Creation and judgment
Personally, I wholeheartedly agree with 1 & 2, but take 3 as merely a possibility.
Anyway, here is the research paper which presents the results:
Helium diffusion rates support accelerated nuclear decay
Followed up by:
Helium Diffusion Age of 6,000 Years Supports Accelerated Nuclear Decay
This concept was mentioned in the first RATE book, but had not been confirmed by experiment until recently (I have not read this book myself).
This idea is not without its criticisms. Criticisms lodged against this idea include:
Young-Earth Creationist Helium Diffusion "Dates"
Talk.Origins Claim CD015
What about Humphreys excess helium arguments
Humphreys and others have responded to these criticisms, and you can read their responses here:
Helium Evidence for A Young
World Remains Crystal-Clear
Russ Humphreys refutes Joe Meert’s false claims about helium diffusion
NWCreation's Response to CD015