Subject: young earth + helium Posted: 4 Oct 88 15:42:10 GMT The Creation Research Society

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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 young earth. 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 Today. 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 sun cycle. 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 constant. 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 following letter: Dear Sir: 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. Sincerely yours, Wm. Randolph Franklin Associate Professor 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). Comments: 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 organizations). Wm. Randolph Franklin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


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