RATE Carbon 14 Study Withstands Scrutiny

Posted in Creation/Evolution, Genesis Flood on June 1st, 2010 by dhawkinsmo

“… Baumgardner’s coal samples do show significant radiocarbon above background, inviting explanation.” –Dr. Kirk Bertsche, AMS Expert  At left: Accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (From Wikipedia)

The RATE team from Institute for Creation Research has produced some very interesting physical evidence for a young earth … one of their experiments involves measuring Carbon 14 in coal.  To make a long story short, there shouldn’t be any Carbon 14 in coal that is supposedly 300 million years old.  BUT … there is and Dr. Baumgardner and his colleagues were alert enough to notice.   Link here to Dr. Baumgardner’s paper.  Paul Giem of GRISDA did a literature survey of studies in which “too much” carbon 14 was found.  This prompted the RATE team to do their own experiment and sure enough … they found carbon 14 which was significantly above background.  Dr. Baumgardner argues that the C14 is intrinsic but of course Old Earthers say it’s not.  What are the Old Earth explanations?   Dr. Bertsche in his article at Talk Origins has suggested mobile humic acids, microbial growth and neutron bombardment.  Kathleen Hunt in her article at Talk Origins says …

The short version: the 14C in coal is probably produced de novo by radioactive decay of the uranium-thorium isotope series that is naturally found in rocks (and which is found in varying concentrations in different rocks, hence the variation in 14C content in different coals). Research is ongoing at this very moment.

(The fungi/bacteria hypothesis [that 14C in coal is produced by modern microorganisms currently living there --Ed.] may also be plausible, but would probably only contribute to inflation of 14C values if coal sits in warm damp conditions exposed to ambient air. [It wasn't -- read Baumgardner's paper on how the samples were handled] There is also growing evidence that bacteria are widespread in deep rocks, but it is not clear that they could contribute to 14C levels. But they may contribute to 13C.)

So, it looks like in-situ production of new 14C is the best-supported hypothesis;

So this appears to be the leading Old Earth Hypothesis but Dr. Bertsche failed to mention in his article that Dr. Baumgardner had already thought of this hypothesis and had calculated the amount of Carbon 14 this would produce.  His calculations showed that the amount of C14 produced would be 4 orders of magnitude too small.  I challenged people at the Talk Rational forum to show that Dr. Baumgardner’s calculations are wrong and several people tried including Dr. Bertsche.  Here is what he wrote recently …

“When I do the above [calculations on neutron bombardment of 14N to produce 14C in coal] on the back of an envelope, I get a 14C abundance that is too low by about 3 orders of magnitude. LINK HERE.

So the two are very close.  Dr. Bertsche has come back today (6/1/10) saying that this is not conclusive and “in situ” contamination is not ruled out.  That’s fine, Dr. Bertsche, if you think it’s not conclusive … you are welcome to keep trying with the calculations.  As for “in situ” contamination, don’t you think your friend Dr. Gove has considered those other sources of contamination?  Why else would he think that in-situ production of new 14C is the best-supported hypothesis?  If Old Earthers would stop ignoring the Elephant in the Living Room — the Global Flood, SOOO many things would be easier to explain … like the bazillions of fossils all over the world which require rapid burial to be preserved, like global sedimentary rock layers, the short history of civilization, legends of a global flood from around the world and so on.  Oh … and Carbon 14 in coal that shouldn’t be there.