Subject: young earth & helium
Posted: 4 Oct 88 15:42:10 GMT
Organization: RPI CS Dept.
The Creation Research Society Quarterly (CRSQ) v 24 n 3, 12/87,
pp152-154 has an article by Dudley Benton arguing for scientific
carefulness by creationists and then giving several arguments for a
Argument I assumes that the sun was always shrinking at the same rate
that it was reported to be now shrinking at in a news article in Physics
Comment: Are news articles refereed? I vaguely remember that measuring
the sun's diameter precisely enough to show a change is surprisingly
difficult since the sun doesn't have a well defined surface. Also,
there's no reason for the rate to be fixed since other properties of the
Argument II uses the rate of deposition of lunar dust. Argument III
assumes that the rate of change of the radius of the moon's orbit is
Comment: I think that an elementary astronomy text might show that the
predicted dr/dt has actually reversed since the moon was formed, due to
tidal interactions. Any takers?
Argument IV quotes some CRC handbooks for the following data:
temperature at top of atmosphere, escape velocity, and the atomic weight
of helium, and uses Maxwell's distribution to calculate that under the
most extreme conditions only 1.4E-7 of the He atoms could escape. The
unstated inference is that, since we don't all sound like Donald Duck,
the earth is too young for a lot of helium to have accumulated.
This last argument was too blatantly wrong to ignore so I wrote them the
The CRSQ 24(3), page 153, appendix IV has an error concerning the escape
of helium from the atmosphere. Although at given time only a few atoms
are fast enough to escape, they are constantly re-equilibrating so that
other helium atoms are soon going fast enough to escape.
Using the Rubber Company tables without having had an introductory
thermo course illustrates Keats's comment about a little learning.
Wm. Randolph Franklin
They published my letter in vol 25, n 1, June 1988, pp54-55, with a
reply by Benton. He said that the theory "implicitly assumed continuous
replenishment". Then he contradicted himself: "Because helium is
continuously produced and very little of this escapes (only 1.4 in 10
million), one may infer that for practical purposes, the helium now
present in the atmosphere is essentially the accumulation of that which
has been produced, plus whatever original helium there may have been."
The editor also deleted my title (Assoc Prof) from my letter but
included Benton's (PhD).
1. When I wrote my letter, I thought he was just overeager and ignorant
-- not knowing about the re-equilibration and that it takes place fast
-- nothing really wrong with that.
2. After reading his response, I have to conclude that, assuming that he
was not deliberately being deceptive with this argument, he and I really
reason about physics in quite different modes.
3. The editor either does not closely examine the arguments of papers
he publishes, or his reviewers let him down.
3. For people who "appeal to reason," some creationists are quite
sensitive to titles. My next letter, if any, to them will end
Wm. Randolph Franklin (BSc Trawna, AM & PhD Harvard,
former Visiting Prof UC Berzerkley,
Assoc Prof Rainsallyear Poly,
NSF Presidential Young Investigator)
(The above titles are for the purposes of intimidation only and are not
meant to be construed as agreement with these opinions by the named
Wm. Randolph Franklin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute