1. Accumulation of Helium in the atmosphere The creationst argument goes something like th

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================================ 1. Accumulation of Helium in the atmosphere The creationst argument goes something like this: Helium-4 is created by radioactive decay (alpha particles are helium nuclei) and is constantly added to the atmosphere. Helium is not light enough to escape the earth's gravity (unlike hydrogen), and it will therefore accumulate over time. The current level of helium in the atmosphere would accumulate in less than two hundred thousand years, therefore the earth is young. (I believe this argument was originally put forth by Melvin Cook, in a letter to the editor which was published in _Nature_.) To the best of our knowledge, the state of helium in the atmosphere is at or near equilibrium. In order to "get" a young age from their calculations, creationists "handwave away" mechanisms by which Helium can escape. For example, Morris says: "There is no evidence at all that Helium 4 either does, or can, escape from the exosphere in significant amounts." (Morris, 1974, p. 151) But Morris is wrong. Surely one cannot "invent" a good dating mechanism by simply ignoring processes which work in the opposite direction of the process which the date is based upon. Dalrymple says: "Banks and Holzer (12) have shown that the polar wind can account for an escape of 2 to 4 x 10^6 ions/cm^2.sec of [4]He, which is nearly identical to the estimated production flux of (2.5 +- 1.5) x 10^6 atoms/cm^2.sec. Calculations for [3]He lead to similar results, i.e., a rate virtually identical to the estimated production flux. Another possible escape mechanism is direct interaction of the solar wind with the upper atmosphere during the short periods of lower magnetic-field intensity while the field is reversing. Sheldon and Kern (112) estimated that 20 geomagnetic-field reversals over the past 3.5 million years would have assured a balance between helium production and loss." (Dalrymple, 1984, p. 112) Dalrymple's references: (12) Banks, P. M. & T. E. Holzer. 1969. High-latitude plasma transport: the polar wind. Geophys. Res. J. 74: 6317-6332. (112) Sheldon, W. R. & J. W. Kern. 1972. Atmospheric helium and geomagnetic field reversals. Geophys. Res. J. 77: 6194-6201. This argument also appears in the following creationist literature: (Baker, 1976, pp. 25-26) (Brown, 1989, pp. 16 and 52) (Jansma, 1985, p. 61) (Whitcomb and Morris, 1961, pp. 384-385) (Wysong, 1976, pp. 161-163) ========================================================================== References: Baker, Sylvia, 1976. _Evolution: Bone of Contention_, New Jersey, Evangelical Press. 35 pp. ISBN 0-85234-226-8 Brown, Walter T., Jr., _In The Beginning..._, Arizona, Center for Scientific Creation. 122 pp. Dalrymple, G. Brent, 1984. "How Old Is the Earth? A Reply to ``Scientific Creationism''", in _Proceedings of the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division, AAAS_ Volume 1, Part 3, California, AAAS. pp. 66-131. Jansma, Sidney J., Jr., 1985. _Six Days_, Michigan, Jansma. Morris, Henry, 1974. _Scientific Creationism_, California, Creation- Life Publishers. 217 pp. ISBN 0-89051-001-6 Whitcomb, John C., and Henry M. Morris, 1961. _The Genesis Flood_, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company. 518 pp. ISBN 0-87552-338-2 Wysong, R. L., 1976. _The Creation-Evolution Controversy_, Michigan, Inquiry Press. 455 pp. ISBN 0-918112-01-X -- Chris Stassen stassen@alc.com


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