Sunday, 19 July 2009

New research raises doubt on assumptions behind radiometric dating

What if these rocks in southern Finland are 10 000 times younger than supposed?

Joel Kontinen

CERN, The European Organization for Nuclear Research, recently published an interesting report on the radioactive decay of thorium-228. The research throws doubt on the view that external conditions cannot have an effect on decay rates.

The new study reveals that the “closed-system, no contamination” assumption is not correct. Fabio Cardone of the Institute per lo Studio dei Materiali Nanostrutturati in Rome and his colleagues noticed that ultrasonic cavitation in water caused thorium-228 to decay 10, 000 times faster than previously supposed.

The effect of water raises interesting questions. Do other radioactive substances also decay at faster rates than previously assumed? There is plenty of water on Earth and the global flood in Noah’s days is beginning to be an even more plausible explanation for accelerated decay rates.

The CERN report also states that scientists had previously noticed minor deviations from expected decay rates.

Popular science magazines have presented radioactive decay rates as almost absolute although geology abounds with “bad dates”. The new study suggests that we should take a skeptical approach to the belief in millions of years of earth history.


CERN Courier. 2009. Ultrasonic cavitation of water speeds up thorium decay. (8 June)