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Monday, August 27, 2007

FSU's 'buckypaper' research recognized with nanotechnology award

A remarkable new material that has shown promise in a variety of applications, ranging from lightning strike protection and electromagnetic-interference shielding to the design of next-generation aircraft and computer displays, is bringing international attention to its Florida State University developers.

Ben Wang

Researchers with FSU's High-Performance Materials Institute recently were recognized for their work with engineered carbon nanotube and nanofiber buckypapers, which were named one of the most innovative nanotechnologies of 2007 by the editors of R&D Magazine and the Micro/Nano Newsletter.

"We present the 25 best micro- and nanotechnologies of the year," the publications stated in introducing the award recipients. "These products, processes and innovations are groundbreaking technologies that are likely to have a large impact on their specific industries and society."

"Many organizations are doing some outstanding work in nanotechnology," said Ben Wang, research director of the High-Performance Materials Institute and a professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering at the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering. "We are honored to have our research recognized among the top 25 in this revolutionary field."

Already, the technology is being evaluated for existing and new products. Leading companies such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing are considering using buckypapers in aircraft structures.

Wang envisions other commercial applications for the technology in the near future.

"Carbon nanotube and nanofiber buckypapers soon will provide lightweight thermal conductivity to dissipate heat in laptop computers," he said. "They also will provide electromagnetic-interference shielding in computers and aircraft; offer lightning-strike protection in composite structures such as aircraft or large windmill blades; enhance the strength of composite structures; and be used for embedding sensors in composite materials."

Farther down the road, Wang foresees applications such as using buckypaper in producing morphing structures and in providing backlight sources for laptops.

Buckypaper is made from carbon nanotubes-amazingly strong fibers about 1/50,000th the diameter of a human hair that were first developed in the early 1990s. It owes its name to Buckminsterfullerene, or Carbon 60-a type of carbon molecule whose powerful atomic bonds make it twice as hard as a diamond. Sir Harold Kroto, now the Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry at FSU, and two colleagues shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery of Buckminsterfullerene, whose molecules were nicknamed "buckyballs" for their spherical shape. Their discovery has led to a revolution in the fields of chemistry and materials science--and directly contributed to the development of buckypaper.

In describing FSU's entry, the Micro/Nano awards stated that "these materials are macroscopic or continuous thin films or membranes comprised of randomly oriented and magnetically aligned CNTs (carbon nanotubes) and nanofibers. These buckypapers combine the advantages of large dimensions, superior electronic conductivity, nanotube alignment, and continuous production."

Read about all of the "2007 Micro/Nano 25 Award Winners" at To learn more about FSU's High-Performance Materials Institute, visit

More about "buckypaper"

Buckypaper is a thin sheet made from an aggregate of carbon nanotubes. Originally, it was fabricated as a way to handle carbon nanotubes. Currently, it is being studied and developed into applications by several research groups and companies around the world, including Dr. Ben Wang from the Florida State University.

The material shows promise as a building material for aerospace vehicles, body armor and next-generation electronics and displays.

Buckypaper is a macroscopic aggregate of carbon nanotubes, or "buckytubes". It owes its name to buckminsterfullerene, the 60 carbon fullerene (an allotrope of carbon with similar bonding that is sometimes referred to as a "Buckyball" in honor of R. Buckminster Fuller). Richard Smalley, Sir Harold Kroto, and Robert Curl shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery of buckminsterfullerene. Their discoveries and subsequent work with carbon nanotubes led to a revolution in the fields of chemistry and materials science.

Among the possible uses for buckypaper that are being researched:

If exposed to an electric charge, buckypaper could be used to illuminate computer and television screens. It could be more energy-efficient, lighter, and could allow for a more uniform level of brightness than current cathode ray tube (CRT) and liquid crystal display (LCD) technology.
Since carbon nanotubes are one of the most thermally conductive materials known, buckypaper lends itself to the development of heat sinks that would allow computers and other electronic equipment to disperse heat more efficiently than is currently possible. This, in turn, could lead to even greater advances in electronic miniaturization.
Because carbon nanotubes have an unusually high current-carrying capacity, a buckypaper film could be applied to the exteriors of airplanes. Lightning strikes then could flow around the plane and dissipate without causing damage.
Films also could protect electronic circuits and devices within airplanes from electromagnetic interference, which can damage equipment and alter settings. Similarly, such films could allow military aircraft to shield their electromagnetic "signatures", which can be detected via radar.
Buckypaper could act as a filter membrane to trap microparticles in air or fluid. Because the nanotubes in buckypaper are insoluble and can be functionalized with a variety of functional groups, they can selectively remove compounds or can act as a sensor.
Produced in high enough quantities and at an economically viable price, buckypaper composites could serve as an effective armor plating.
Buckypaper can be used to grow biological tissue, such as nerve cells. Buckypaper can be electrified or functionalized to encourage growth of specific types of cells.

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Real time Yahoo Mail to cell phones in the U.S., Canada, India and the Philippines

August 27, 2007

Yahoo Inc. has closed the beta testing of its new e-mail service and will roll it out to its 254 million users over the next six weeks, the company said today. The beta testing of the new Yahoo Mail had been going on for two years.

Yahoo has added some new features to Yahoo Mail that were not included in its test of the service. For example, users can now send free text messages in real time from Yahoo Mail to cell phones in the U.S., Canada, India and the Philippines, according to a company statement. In addition, they can send instant messages from Yahoo Mail to Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger 2 users.

Yahoo said it will continue to offer its classic version of Yahoo Mail to users who might not want to switch to the new service. "We have always been focused on making it easy for people to connect to those who matter most to them, and during the beta-testing period of the new Yahoo Mail, we were able to incorporate a number of enhancements based on valuable feedback from our users," said John Kremer, vice president for Yahoo Mail.

Yahoo Mail will also add a feature called Shortcuts that lets the system automatically recognize things such as dates and addresses, giving users the option of adding the information to their Yahoo Calendar or Contacts lists, launching Web searches and displaying a map inside the Yahoo Mail interface. The new Yahoo Mail will be available to Yahoo Small Business Mail users this fall.

With competition heating up from Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and others, Yahoo has to continually boost Yahoo Mail, which drives a lot of Web traffic for the company, Gartner analyst Mike McGuire said.

"Yahoo Mail is a keystone application for Yahoo, so continuing to enhance it is very important for the company, because there is a good chunk of ad inventory they get there," he said.

The challenge, McGuire said, is always to upgrade services in a way that provides tangible, concrete benefits to users, and to make people aware of the value of the improvements.

Because some users won't embrace the new version right away, giving them the option of using the "classic" version of Yahoo Mail is a smart move, he said. "That's important, because consumer inertia is a pretty powerful force," McGuire added.

Yahoo Mail is a free service, but it has a fee-based option called Plus that costs $19.95 annually and offers additional features, such as POP access, e-mail forwarding and no graphical ads.

The IDG News Service contributed to this report.

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Under a blood moon rising......!!!

A COSMIC ballet will bathe much of Australia's east coast in an ethereal red glow as the night sky becomes lit up by crimson moonshine.
But forget high-powered telescopes. A dark spot and roof tops will give some of the best views of tonight's Blood Moon eclipse.

At exactly 8.37pm (AEST) the Sun, Earth and Moon will be in total alignment, scattering light as it passes through the Earth's atmosphere and bounces off the moon in hues of bronze and red.

Tens of thousands of amateur astronomers are expected to turn outacross the city to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon.

NSW Astronomical Society astronomer Adrian Saw said that while a telescope or pair of binoculars would enhance the experience, it was not as important as finding a darkened location away from the city's lights.

"It's easily observable but the darker place you can find the better," Mr MOSi said. "There will be better views near the heads around Sydney Harbour or the Blue Mountains - anywhere away from street lamps."

The first stages of the eclipse will begin at 5.53pm but as the moon passes further into Earth's shadow at 6.51pm, it will gradually dim to an unusual golden colour.

When the total eclipse begins at 7.52pm it will become a bronze and reddish hue before turning blood red at its peak at 8.37pm.

"People will see things on the moon they've never seen before," Mr Saw, said.

The lunar kaleidoscope will reverse as the moon leaves Earth's shadow and becomes its bright white self again after 10.30pm.

It will be the first total lunar eclipse to be seen from start to finish in the city's skies since July 2000.

While they are not uncommon, it is rare to see one in its entirety, with the next blood moon not visible until 11.45pm on December 10, 2011.

Sydney, along with New Zealand, is in the perfect zone to view the eclipse - with people in Melbourne and Brisbane having to travel further north or south to find better views.

Stay up late - or get up early - for spectacular lunar eclipse

A lovely total lunar eclipse will be visible throughout the Bay Area and all of California before dawn Tuesday morning as the Earth's shadow darkens the bright full moon, and wherever skies are clear, it will be a time to look upward wide-eyed.

Astronomers say the eclipse should be a beauty, but only people willing to stay up very late or set their alarm clocks for long after midnight will see it.

It will last for a full hour and a half, and during that time, the moon's color could be anything from a dull and dusky red-brown to a reddish or even orange glow, depending on how much dust, pollution and mist is in the atmosphere, according to Andrew Fraknoi, chair of astronomy at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, who has observed many in his time.

For the wide-awake, a partial eclipse will start at 1:51 a.m. Tuesday and become total starting at 2:52 a.m. By 4:22 a.m., the total phase will be over, but then as the moon begins to emerge from Earth's shadow, another partial phase will begin. The eclipse will end at 5:24 a.m., just as the sky lightens at dawn.

Lunar eclipses take place when the full moon and the sun are opposite each other in space, and the Earth in between them casts its shadow over the bright moon's face. But even when the eclipse is total, some indirect sunlight manages to reach the moon. The earth's atmosphere filters out most of the sun's blue light, leaving only the red frequencies to light the lunar surface.

"Since the moon is always safe to look at and the eclipse only makes the moon darker, there's no danger in watching this eclipse with your eyes or through a telescope," Fraknoi said.

Binoculars would be a neat way to watch the event, he said, because they could make some of the bigger craters stand out as the Earth's shadow begins to pass over the moon during the partial phase.

And watching the partial phase before totality should reveal something that the ancient Greeks discovered more than 2,000 years ago - that the Earth was round. So it wasn't Magellan whose voyage first showed that. It was Aristotle, who died in 322 B.C.

In eclipses of the moon, Aristotle wrote, the outline of the Earth's shadow is always curved, "and since it is the interposition of the earth that makes the eclipse, the form of this line will be caused by the form of the earth's surface, which is therefore spherical."

The lunar eclipse this year should be "really beautiful and like nothing you've ever seen before," said astronomer Ben Burress at the Chabot Space and Science Center high in the Oakland hills. "It's one of the longest lunar eclipses we've had."

The Chabot observatory is planning a big "Once in a Red Moon" all-night viewing party on its deck and in the planetarium with lunar-themed music. It will open at 10 o'clock tonight with hikes for the public and telescopes to see through. If the Bay Area's fog or clouds don't cooperate, the planetarium will show a simulation of the event.

Fred Espenak, an astronomer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., has calculated the dates and times of past lunar eclipses from 2000 B.C. to the present, and on through to A.D. 3000. In that 5,000-year span, he said, there will have been 3,505 total eclipses of the moon, including 230 during the 21st century, and 4,213 partial eclipses, including 58 in this century.

Eclipses, of course, have long been harbingers of doom or evil in mythology, and lunar eclipses are no exception - mostly involving the moon swallowed up by gods or demons or other creatures.

According to some records, the Maya of Central America, for example, believed that a jaguar ate the moon and could devour people, too, while in ancient China it was a three-legged toad. To the Mongols it was a dragon named Alkha.

In Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs, lunar eclipses were bad omens indeed, because the moon was supposed to be the "ruler of the stars," and some ancient texts describe the entire sky as swallowing the moon during every eclipse.

While it wasn't Columbus who showed the Earth was round, the Great Navigator did use a lunar eclipse to save his crew during his last voyage to America in 1503, according to Bryan Brewer, author of the book "Eclipse."

After Columbus and his crew had been stranded on the island of Jamaica for months, the Indians finally refused to provide them with any food, Brewer said. But Columbus knew that a total eclipse of the moon would occur on Feb. 29, 1504. So on that night Columbus told his Indian neighbors that God was angry with them for not cooperating, and that God would make the moon disappear.

It did, and when the locals saw the eclipse ending, Columbus told them that God had forgiven them and the moon would return in full. It did, and Columbus and his crew ate heartily.

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Study: Martian soil may contain life

The soil on Mars may contain microbial life, according to a new interpretation of data first collected more than 30 years ago.


Scientists want to know whether or not Mars ever supported life.

The search for life on Mars appeared to hit a dead end in 1976 when Viking landers touched down on the red planet and failed to detect biological activity.

But Joop Houtkooper of the University of Giessen, Germany, said on Friday the spacecraft may in fact have found signs of a weird life form based on hydrogen peroxide on the subfreezing, arid Martian surface.

His analysis of one of the experiments carried out by the Viking spacecraft suggests that 0.1 percent of the Martian soil could be of biological origin.

That is roughly comparable to biomass levels found in some Antarctic permafrost, home to a range of hardy bacteria and lichen.

"It is interesting because one part per thousand is not a small amount," Houtkooper said in a telephone interview.

"We will have to find confirmatory evidence and see what kind of microbes these are and whether they are related to terrestrial microbes. It is a possibility that life has been transported from Earth to Mars or vice versa a long time ago."

Speculation about such interplanetary seeding was fueled a decade ago when researchers said an ancient meteorite found in Antarctica contained evidence of fossil life on Mars. Doubt has since been cast on that finding.

Houtkooper is presenting his research to the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, Germany.

While most scientists think our next-door neighbor in the solar system is lifeless, the discovery of microbes on Earth that can exist in environments previously thought too hostile has fueled debate over extraterrestrial life.

Houtkooper believes Mars could be home to just such "extremophiles" -- in this case, microbes whose cells are filled with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water, providing them with natural anti-freeze.

They would be quite capable of surviving a harsh Martian climate where temperatures rarely rise above freezing and can fall to minus 150 degrees Celsius.

Houtkooper believes their presence would account for unexplained rises in oxygen and carbon dioxide when NASA's Viking landers incubated Martian soil. He bases his calculation of the biomass of Martian soil on the assumption that these gases were produced during the breakdown of organic material.

Scientists hope to gather further evidence on whether or not Mars ever supported life when NASA's next-generation robotic spacecraft, the Phoenix Mars Lander, reaches the planet in May 2008 and probes the soil near its northern pole

More about Martain soil.


Since the dawn of time, humankind has had a certain fascination with the stars, planets, and other wondrous phenomena that exist outside of the Earth's atmosphere, but perhaps one of the most intriguing is Mars. Only one planetary jump away, this reddish planet raises more questions than answers. Both the United States and Russia have launched a series of missions to the planet, hoping to survey the landscape as well as search for life. As of today, the most successful program is still the Viking program, launched by the United States in 1975. Vikings 1 and 2 did not find extraterrestrials but did map almost the entire planetary surface. The results of the Viking experiments performed on the Martian soil, however, perplex scientists even today.
vikingLander2Model.gif - 22494 Bytes The Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) onboard the Vikings concludes that down to 10 centimeters deep the soil does not contain organic molecules. This is inconsistent with conventional wisdom because organics are inevitably produced by meteorite fall. This leads researchers to believe that the soil contains a mechanism that destroys organics. The soil itself is also known to produce oxygen in large quantities when hydrated. The rapid production of oxygen followed by a decrease in production near equilibrium levels indicates chemical as opposed to biological activity.
There are two major problems with testing the Martian soil. Firstly, samples cannot be transported back for testing because the reactions could be dependent on the Martian environment, so the landers must carry out the experiments in situ. Secondly, many techniques perfected on Earth require the use of water, but Mars is relatively dry, so the mixing of water with the soil for experimental purposes may affect the results to a large degree. The exact chemical species present in the Martian soil is unknown, but a well-supported theory suggests that a peroxide exists in the soil or atmosphere, which would explain the lack of organics and the evolution of oxygen when hydrated. This is a concern for future missions because peroxides could lead to the damage of biological and mechanical materials.
surface2.gif - 11205 Bytes NASA researchers believe that palagonite, volcanic soil found in Hawaii, to be very similar to the Martian soil based on its spectra. As a result, palagonite has been selected as the soil of choice for a Martian analog. In this paper, cyclic voltammetry is discussed. Such techniques have never been used in interplanetary missions. Instead methods such as optics, which take up considerable amounts of energy, were used. Voltammetry should be a strong candidate for future missions because it has the ability to speciate, requires relatively little equipment, and uses less energy than more sophisticated devices. The question that arises, however, is whether such techniques would yield viable data. This paper is a pioneer work, attempting to answer that question.


  1. Peroxide can be detected in the ppm level with and without soil present.

  2. As more peroxide is added to an electrolyte solution with or without palagonite, the anodic peak current should become more pronounced because there would be a higher concentration of redox species.

  3. The anodic current should become less pronounced over time because peroxide decomposes over time.

  4. The pH of the electrolyte should affect the rate of peroxide decomposition. The anodic peak should decrease as the peroxide decomposes.

Methods/Materials & Results

This material has been withheld, because his findings have not been published yet.


surface.gif - 11537 Bytes These studies indicate that cyclic voltammetry could be used to study Martian soil, but an electrolyte must be carefully chosen with regard to both (1) the chemical thought to be present in the Martian soil and (2) the pH of the Martian environment. Hypothesis 1 is correct because voltammetry can detect peroxide at the ppm level with or without soil present. Hypothesis 2 correctly states that the anodic peak current becomes more pronounced with a higher concentration of peroxide. Hypothesis 3 is validated because the anodic current becomes less pronounced as time passes. Hypothesis 4, however, is incorrect: When an electrolyte's pH is changed with an acid or base, the resulting data does not yield useful information, but an electrolyte at its natural pH does yield useful information. This project concludes that cyclic voltammetry would be ideal for Martian soil experimentation. It has the ability to speciate, requires little equipment, and uses less energy than more sophisticated devices, including optical (e.g. Mars Oxidant Experiments) or gaseous-based machines (e.g. Viking Experiments), while still providing important data. Furthermore, the amount of time it takes to perform voltammetric tests is very short, making it very efficient.

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Diamonds unlock secrets of early Earth

Diamonds more than 4 billion years old -- nearly as old as the Earth itself -- have been discovered in Western Australia, giving scientists vital clues about the early history of our planet.

These small gems are the oldest identified fragments of the Earth's crust.

Found trapped in zircon crystals in the Jack Hills region, the small gems are the oldest identified fragments of the Earth's crust and their existence suggests the Earth may have cooled faster than previously thought, experts said on Wednesday.

The time between the creation of the Earth around 4.5 billion years ago and the formation of the oldest known rocks some 500 million years later is known as the Hadean period -- the "dark ages" of geology.

Many geologists have traditionally thought of it as a time when the surface of the planet was a mass of molten lava. But the discovery of the ancient diamonds, reported in the journal Nature, challenges that view.

Martina Menneken of Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat Muenster, Germany, and colleagues said the presence of diamonds -- which are created under intense pressure -- implied there was a relatively thick continental crust as early as 4.25 billion years ago.

This suggests it may have taken only around 200 million years for the Earth's surface to cool enough for water to condense and oceans to form.

"These latest findings indicate that the planet was already cooling and forming a crust much earlier than previously thought," Alexander Nemchin, an expert in geochemistry at Australia's Curtin University of Technology and one of Menneken's co-researchers, said in a statement.

"Jack Hills is the only place on Earth that can give us this kind of information about the formation of the Earth. We're dealing with the oldest material on the planet."

Radioactive dating showed the crystals from Western Australia varied in age from 3.06 billion to 4.25 billion years, making them almost 1 billion years older than the previous oldest-known diamonds.

Martin Van Kranendonk, a senior geologist with the Geological Survey of Western Australia, said unraveling the history of the crystals was a boon for researchers.

"Any information about the very early Earth is fantastic: presented by Md moshiur Rahman sponsored by by :

More :Concerning the Early History of Planet Earth

The Origin of the Solar System, some of the many peculiarities of our solar system and its origins were mentioned briefly. The sun for instance is 98% helium and hydrogen, the giant planets are mostly gaseous, but the terrestrial planets including the earth are almost entirely made up of heavier elements-earth is 90% iron, silicon, oxygen and magnesium.

The most popular current secular scientific explanation for the origin of the solar system and the planets suggests that everything formed by a cold accretionary process involving the coalescence, accretion and compression of the abundant gas and dust molecules that "fill" empty space most everywhere.

The Bible, on the other hand describes the formation of the earth's surface as being accomplished by the hand of God from surrounding waters on the Second Day of creation. The sun, moon, stars and other objects in space were specifically made on the Fourth Day. There was light (Heb., or) created on Day One (which may explain the present background radiation temperature of space), but the stars themselves (maor), the "light-holders," were not activated until Day Four.

Both the secular and the Biblical views would suggest that the earth should be a uniform sphere with all the elements mixed uniformly from crust to core. However this is not what we know to be true. The chart below (from Ref. 1) shows that sometime in earth's early history most of the iron sank to the core while silicon, aluminum, calcium, potassium and sodium have been concentrated in the crust. How did this differentiation come about? The vertical arrangement found within the earth is not according to relative weights.

Zone Thickness, km Density Temperature, C
Atmosphere ~100 10 (exp -9) ±100
Hydrosphere 3.8 1 0-100
Crust (Solid) 30 2.3 ~100
Mantle (Solid) 2870 4.5 2200
Liquid Outer Core 2230 10 2300
Solid Inner Core 1270 12 3000-6200

The answer may be that the elements in the earth occur in the form of compounds having various melting points, chemical activities, and densities. These properties determine the vertical distribution of elements-assuming that the interior of the earth was hot enough to melt everything at some time in the past. (Ref. 2).

Certain silicates of calcium, sodium, potassium and aluminum, known as feldspars, are easily melted (700-1000 degrees C) and when molten they are relatively light and tend to "float" upwards. Feldspars are common in the earth's crust.

The mantle of the earth, between the crust and the core became the reservoir presumably because magnesium-iron silicates melt less easily than the feldspars, so the principal minerals in the mantle seem to be olivine and pyroxene.

Presumably most of the earth's gold and platinum---inert as far as oxygen is concerned-sank to the core, while other heavier elements such as uranium and thorium formed lighter oxides which rose to accumulate in the crust.

How did the early earth become hot enough for the core to melt? Genesis One suggests the early earth was no colder than ice and no hotter than steam, otherwise the description of the original main continent being brought forth out of the waters (on Day Two as stated in Gen. 1:6) would not be correct. For discussion purposes, if God had "compacted" the sphere of the earth together allowing gravity to do most of the work, the resulting interior temperature would have been less than 1000 degrees C. Iron does not melt, nor could liquid iron sink to the core of the earth where most of it resides today, without the temperature being at least 3700 degrees C. (Heat flow measurements and calculations place an upper limit of about 4300 degrees C as the probable maximum temperature at the center of the earth). (Ref. 1, 2).

One important feature of the zoning of minerals in the earth is that the radioactive elements are now almost all located in the crust. Careful measurements of heat flowing up from the interior of the earth under the continents, ocean floors, in deep mines and drill holes tells us that most of the interior heat comes from radioactive decay of elements (isotopes of uranium, thorium, potassium) concentrated in the crust in a few parts per million. This heat flow (averaging about 1.5 microcalories per square centimeter per second) adds up to about 250,000 megatons of energy released to the surface per year, a thousand times the energy released by all the earthquakes per year, but 5000 times less than the energy received from the sun.

Radioactive heating of the earth's interior could have provided enough energy to heat the early earth on the interior from 1000 to perhaps 3000 degrees or higher resulting in "core meltdown." When the melting point of iron was reached, it is suggested that iron sank to the core and liberated immediately an additional 1022 megatons of gravitational energy! As this meltdown process took place the radioactive elements floated to the top and became concentrated in the top 10-20 kilometers of crust where they are found today.

Not all astronomers agree with the above model. Those who favor a proto-sun with planetesimals propose a spinning nebula cloud with a plasma disk that cooled from perhaps 5000 degrees at the sun's surface to about 300 degrees at the distance of earth from the sun to 0 degrees at Jupiter's position. In this view, differentiation of the planetary interiors occurred as they were being formed. Depending on the temperature and size of the planet helium and hydrogen were retained or lost (Ref. 1).

How can this contemporary secular scientific view of earth's early history be fitted to the Genesis record? It is impossible to be dogmatic but this author believes that radioactive processes may have been "switched on" at the time of the fall of man or the angels. The curse on the earth described in Genesis 3 suggests that God decreased the power flow from the spiritual realm into the physical realm at that time. The whole creation then became subject to "the bondage of decay" (Ref. 3). In physics we see this principal operating today---it is the familiar Second Law of Thermodynamics---the tendency of things to rot, rust, decay, run down and fall apart with the passage of time-as well as the increasing unavailability of energy to do useful work and nature's inexorable tendency towards chaos and disorder.

Thus the creation as it existed at the end of Creation Week operated very differently from the observed behavior of the present universe. The laws of physics have been disrupted and we can not project present data back to t = 0. There have been one or more discontinuities in the laws of nature in the past associated with the fall and with God's miraculous interventions in history. That is, the commonly-held principle of uniformitarianism is invalid---as the Apostle Peter speaks so clearly about in the third chapter of his second epistle.

Radioactive isotopes are unstable (several nuclear processes are involved) because there is insufficient nuclear binding energy in the potential well of the nucleus to contain all the particles of the nucleus. As a result these isotopes spontaneously decay with characteristic half-lives. They emit alpha, beta and gamma particles as they decay and these energies ultimately end up as heat inside the earth. As a side note, the various rates of radioactive decay are mathematically proportional to the velocity of light, and according to the work of Barry Setterfield and Trevor Norman (Ref 4: On the Constancy of the Velocity of Light) the rate of radioactive heating of the early earth could have been much faster than it is now. Also, the run rate of the atomic clock is proportional to c-Setterfield and Norman believe the initial value of c at the time of creation was nine to eleven million times greater than the present value. A higher initial velocity of light in the past would indicate a very recent creation of the universe because the atomic clock would slow down with respect to dynamical time if c were higher in the past (Ref. 5). The statistical evidence that c has decreased in the past 300 years is very strong.

This author suspects (but can not prove) that all atomic elements and isotopes were stable before the fall. Not only is man fallen and subject to death, but the evil resulting from the rebellion led by Lucifer has damaged the physical universe as well. Colossians 1:17 states that "all things hold together" in Christ. The Greek word usually translated "consist" can be translated "cohere" or "are compacted together" which suggests that all the forces of nature---especially those which hold the atoms together in stable configurations-are forces that originate in Christ's sustaining power over the creation (Ref. 6). As the old spiritual suggests, "He's got the whole world in His hands..." (quite literally). Peter the Apostle vividly alludes to these atomic forces being under God's direct control as well (Ref. 7). Any decrease in the spiritual power which holds the universe "compacted together" would produce a more unstable situation, and a tendency towards chaos and disorder. I believe this instability could have included certain previously stable atomic nuclei becoming radioactive after the fall. Before the fall the universe was probably self-restoring and self-healing, and that state of the affairs will probably be re-established when Christ brings about the new heavens and new earth, making all things new (Ref. 8). See What Holds the Universe Together?

There is another great mystery in science that would be partially explained by the assumption that radioactive decay was switched on subsequent to the completion of creation week. Thin slices of many crustal rocks (granites for example, but also certain sedimentary rocks such as coalified wood) contain tiny spherical radiation burn rings known as "pleochroic halos." The study of these halos has occupied much of the professional career of a distinguished scientific researcher by the name of Robert Gentry (Ref. 9). If the rocks on the interior of the earth were once molten and formed over millions of years many radioactive elements would have totally decayed long before the rocks crystallized and there would be no halos. It is as if the rocks and their included radioactive isotopes were all created in an instant of time so that the halos began to form immediately in rock that was already differentiated, and cool.

The most puzzling pleochroic halos are those due to Polonium 210. Although the decay of Uranium 238 to Lead 206 involves Polonium as an intermediate daughter isotope, and although the half-life of U238 is 4.5 billion years, some halos are found that clearly had no Uranium parent isotopes. The half life of Po218 is only minutes, yet perfectly clear pleochroic halos from polonium decay are found in the heart of solid rock!

Either the radioactive polonium atoms were frozen nearly instantly into the parent rocks at the "moment" of creation by divine fiat, or the Polonium was not originally radioactive when the rocks crystallized. In either case there is no way to reconcile these Polonium halos with an old universe and the supposedly slow processes (millions of years) of rock formation and slow geologic processes.

In light of Gentry's work it is quite possible that radioactive heating of the earth was not the cause of core meltdown of the early earth after all-the observed differentiation of the elements could have some other cause. If isotopes which were originally stable later became radioactive after they were concentrated by some other mechanism into the crust, the heat released in the crust might help to explain rapid fracturing of the earth's crust at the time of the Flood of Noah, and rapid continental drift perhaps a hundred years later (Ref. 10).

Speaking of the Flood of Noah, various calculations of the amount of water that might have been contained in a vapor canopy above the earth show that most of the water for the flood apparently came not from rainfall, but from the opening of the so-called "fountains of the deep" mentioned in Genesis 7:11. The evidence from many passages of scripture is that very large quantities of water were once trapped within the earth. Most of this water now resides in earth's oceans having been violently released by run-away heating and cracking of the crust at the time of the Flood.

Perhaps the mechanism of the Flood, and its very timing 1656 years after Adam left the garden was all set into motion by Adam's fall. This would be but one example suggested in the Bible that man's sin affects nature, and that the forces of nature are delicately balanced and very much related to the design of the universe with man placed on center stage in the design of things (Ref 11).

See Reference 12 for an excellent contemporary discussion of the large quantities of water believed to be trapped in the earth's crust.


1. Robert H. Dott, Jr., Roger L. Batten, and Randall D. Sale, Evolution of the Earth, McGraw Hill, New York, 1971.

2. Frank Press and Raymond Siever, Earth, W. H. Freeman, San Francisco 1974.

3. Romans 8:19-22.

4. See Alan Montgomery and Lambert Dolphin, Is the Velocity of Light Constant in Time?, Galilean Electrodynamics, Vol. 5 #5, Sept./Oct. 1993. PO Box 545, Storrs, CT 06268-0545. Now available on line: Is The Velocity of Light Constant in Time?

5. For additional information on the speed of light controversy see "Burst of the Bubble?" in Koinonia House publication Personal Update for June 1993. Koinonia House.

6. Hebrews 1:1-4.

7. 2 Peter 3:10-11. The Greek word usually translated "dissolved" in this reference to the atomic elements is really "unloosed."

8. Revelation 21.

9. Robert V. Gentry, Creation's Tiny Mystery, Earth Science Associates, Knoxville, TN 1986.

10. Walter T. Brown Jr., PhD., In the Beginning, Center for Scientific Creation, 5612 N. 20th Place, Phoenix, AZ 85016, 1989.

11. Readers who want to explore these matters in more detail should write to the Institute of Creation Research, PO Box 26673, El Cajon, CA 92021 for their catalog, and also obtain the Proceedings of the First and Second International Conferences on Creation held in Pittsburgh in 1986 and 1990. The latter address is 362 Ashland Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15228.

12. Deep waters, by Lou Bergeron, New Scientist, 30 August 1997.

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