The observations of recent years show that radioactive decay, usually assumed to be constant, underwent acceleration at lest once in the distant past. The most likely time for that acceleration was during the period of tremendous earthquakes, and resulting piezoelectric activity in the earth’s crust, during the Global Flood.
In 1967, as previously reported, Robert V. Gentry first noticed pleochroic halos, made of polonium, surrounding certain crystals, or zircons, contained in biotite. (See illustration.) He concluded then that radioactive acceleration, of several orders of magnitude, must have occurred–but did not reach a reliable conclusion as to when that occurred.
Nearly forty years later, the RATE Group (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth) completed its report on the discrepant radiometric dates observed at several sites of geological and paleontological interest, and possible causes, both of the discrepancy and of the tremendous “apparent ages” conventionally assigned to certain samples. They, too, determined that radioactive acceleration must have occurred. The halos were only part of the story. Another part was the retention of helium, and specifically helium-4, within zircons, this although zircons are porous enough that any helium forming from slow alpha decay over billions of years would have leaked out. The retention itself argues for radioactive acceleration; the acceleration argues against relying on the usual assumptions upon which radiometric dating rests. (For example, one cannot assume that any given rock sample began with no daughter nuclide, or that the rate of decay has remained constant and unchanging.)
In addition, the radioactive decay rates of at least four nuclides, silicon-32, chlorine-36, radium-226, and tritium (hydrogen-3), are known to vary with the seasons–slower in summer and faster in winter, which correspond roughly to aphelion and perihelion. The best explanation for this variation is that the flow of neutrinos from the sun must govern radioactive decay in some still-undetermined manner. Radioactive decay normally does not vary with temperature (at least not at temperatures too cool to strip atoms of their electrons, a state called plasma, a Greek word meaning a molded thing).
But electron-capture decay has been known to vary, though slightly, with pressure. Electron capture has also been known to accelerate in certain chemical forms; for example, beryllium-7, which decays by electron capture to lithium-7, decays significantly faster in the beryllium dihydroxide form than in the oxide form. The interaction of the beryllium (II) ion with anions (negatively charged) of different valences (average charges per particle) is the best explanation for the difference.
But by far the fastest radioactive accelerations occur in the plasma state. In 1999, Fritz Bosch (as cited by Richard A. Kerr) found that the decay rate of rhenium-187 declined from 42 billion years to 33 years–when Re-187 was in a plasma state. The specific acceleration was in beta decay–the very sort of decay that would immediately produce a halo of polonium from a radioisotope of bismuth, as part of the decay cycles of uranium and thorium.
On the other hand, William A. Barker, in 1989, received this patent for a device designed to accelerate either alpha or beta decay of various radioactive waste products by subjecting them to high electrostatic charges. (The patent expired in 2000, presumably for lack of economic viability–but that the patent was granted to begin with indicates that at least one patent examiner found the claims credible.)
As described here, the earth’s crust generated tremendous amounts of electromotive potential (“voltage”), enough to create a form of lightning inside the ground by creating plasmas. This process, which allowed the creation of radioactive substances, also accelerated their decay rates. When the electrical activity stopped, the decay rates slowed to the presently observed rates.
In addition to the experimental evidence, the atmosphere contains a vast excess of argon-40, by any rational estimate. Ar-40 is the electron-capture product of potassium-40. Not nearly enough K-40 has existed on earth to produce so much Ar-40. The Ar-40 was produced either by two steps of electron capture from Ca-40 present in limestone (and subjected to tremendous negative charges) or as a beta-decay end-product of any of various possible fission products (Mg-40, Al-40, Si-40, P-40, S-40, or Cl-40).
These two findings–radioactive production and acceleration–have profound implications, both for the origins debate and for theology, not least because they answer some rather awkward riddles. This Examiner will make that plain in the next article in this series.
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