Radioactive Decay Rates Not Stable | The Institute for Creation Research
Radioactive Decay Rates Not Stable

For about a century, radioactive decay rates have been heralded as steady and stable processes that can be reliably used to help measure how old rocks are. They helped underpin belief in vast ages and had largely gone unchallenged. But certain decay rates apparently aren’t as stable as some would hope.

Several decades ago, strange fluctuations were observed in several radioactive decay systems. These systems have unstable nuclei that emit various particles and radiation until they stabilize. It was finally established that these seasonal fluctuations corresponded to the distance between the earth and the sun. When the earth is closest to the sun, solar neutrinos evidently accelerate nuclear decay.1

Now, Italian research shows evidence that a process called “cavitation” accelerated the nuclear decay of thorium (Th228). In particular, it seems that cavitation caused radioactive thorium decay to accelerate by a factor of 10,000 times during a 90-minute experiment.2 Cavitation can occur when water flows so fast that vapor bubbles are produced. These bubbles collapse to produce shock waves—very powerful on tiny scales—that have been known to rapidly destroy boat propellers and pump parts, catastrophically erode water tunnels, and create light sparks. Cavitation may also affect the nuclei of atoms in heavily resonating solutions.

The mutability of decay rates is not a surprise to some scientists. Creation researchers had found clear evidence that radioactive decay was accelerated dramatically in the recent past. For example, some radioactive decay acceleration event must have been the cause of the profusion of helium atoms that exist in zircon crystals associated with radioactive uranium.3

Whether cavitation, neutrinos, or something else had a part in the accelerated nuclear decay of earth’s past is not yet known. What is known, however, is that the stability of radioactive decay is open to question. Likewise, the vast age assigned to the earth based on radioactive measurements is by no means set in stone.

References

  1. Mullins, J. 2009. Solar ghosts may haunt Earth's radioactive atoms. New Scientist. 2714: 42-45.
  2. Cardone, F., R. Mignani R. and A. Petrucci. 2009. Piezonuclear decay of thorium. Physics Letters A. 373 (22): 1956-1958.
  3. Humphreys, D. R. Young Helium Diffusion Age of Zircons Supports Accelerated Nuclear Decay. In Vardiman, L., A. A. Snelling, and E. F. Chaffin (eds.). Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, Volume II. El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, and Chino Valley, AZ: Creation Research Society: 25.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on August 5, 2009.

The Latest
NEWS
No Evidence T. rex Hatchlings Had Feathers
The recent discovery of a tiny tyrannosaur jaw bone fragment and a claw has some scientists again pushing dinosaurs as birds.1 But is there...

NEWS
Inside March 2021 Acts & Facts
Why does ICR uphold the clarity of Scripture? How do we know that canyons were formed by the Genesis Flood? How do fossilized fish confirm biblical...

DAYS OF PRAISE DEVOTIONALS
Spring 2021
...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Human Hands
You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with ICR’s special Creation Kids learning...

ACTS & FACTS
Dross and Dilution
The first of seven great signs of Jesus’ deity recorded in John’s gospel is the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11). By the time Jesus...

APOLOGETICS
Do the Unpersuaded Have Enough Proof?
At a local Bible conference, a respected seminary professor unintentionally contradicted the apostle Paul. During the Q&A session, he opined that...

ACTS & FACTS
Gunnison's Black Canyon: The Flood Solves Mysterious Missing...
Brian Thomas, Ph.D., and Tim Clarey, Ph.D. The Gunnison River winds westward from the Colorado Rocky Mountains through dry and dramatic landscapes....

ACTS & FACTS
Do We See Complex Design in Mosquito Eggs?
Mosquitoes hatch from tiny eggs and spend a few days filter-feeding on things like bacteria, pollen, and algae. They molt three times as they grow,...

ACTS & FACTS
A Texas-Size Spider Mystery
The delightfully creepy spider belongs to a class called Arachnida—which is distinct from the “bug” class Insecta. Not surprisingly,...

ACTS & FACTS
The Fossils Still Say No: The Fins-to-Feet Transition
One of the alleged greatest transformations in vertebrate evolution is said to be the emergence of creatures that traded fins for feet and transitioned...