F Rosa Rubicondior: Creationism in Crisis - Scientists Got The Age of The Moon Wrong! But It's Not Good News For Creationists.

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Creationism in Crisis - Scientists Got The Age of The Moon Wrong! But It's Not Good News For Creationists.

4.46 billion years old
The Moon is 40 million years older than previously thought - Northwestern Now

Scientists have recalculated the age of Earth's moon and found they got it wrong.

But, before creationists start jumping up and down with excitement, it's not good news.

The recalculated age shows the Moon to be, not 4.425 billion years old, but 40 million years older, at 4.46 billion years old. This now makes it 44.6 million percent older than the Universe, which, according to creationist superstition is only 10,000 years old, instead of the 44.25 million percent older that used to be thought.

This means, if creationists want to dispute this new age on the grounds that the dating method used was flawed, they need to show how the 'error' made 100 years look like 44.6 million years, in a universe moreover that they claim to be so finely tuned that altering any of the parameters by even a small amount would make life impossible. Radiometric dating of course depends on the decay rate of unstable isotopes which in turn depends on random quantum fluctuations in the strength of two of the four fundamental forces - the weak and strong nuclear forces.

This new age was arrived at by analysing the zircon crystals in the moon rock brought back by the Apollo 17 moon landing:
How can zircon crystals in rock be used to determine the age of the rock? Zircon crystals can be used to determine the age of a rock through a dating technique called radiometric dating, specifically uranium-lead dating. Here's how it works:
  1. Zircon Formation: Zircon crystals are often found in igneous rocks, especially granite. When these rocks solidify from a molten state, zircon crystals can form within them. Zircon is particularly useful for dating because it contains the elements uranium and thorium, as well as the element lead.
  2. Radioactive Decay: Uranium is radioactive, and over time it decays into a stable isotope of lead. This decay process occurs at a known and constant rate, which is characterized by the element's half-life. Uranium-238 (U-238) decays into lead-206 (Pb-206), and uranium-235 (U-235) decays into lead-207 (Pb-207). The half-lives of U-238 and U-235 are well-established.
  3. Accumulation of Lead: As zircon crystals form in the rock, they incorporate a small amount of uranium but no lead. Over time, the uranium within the zircon crystals decays into lead isotopes. By measuring the ratio of uranium to lead isotopes in a zircon crystal, scientists can calculate how much time has passed since the crystal formed.
  4. Measuring the Isotope Ratios: To determine the age of the rock, scientists need to measure the uranium-lead ratios in the zircon crystals. This is typically done using a mass spectrometer, a highly precise instrument that can detect and measure the abundance of different isotopes. The ratio of lead isotopes (Pb-206 and Pb-207) to uranium isotopes (U-238 and U-235) can be used to calculate the age of the zircon crystal.
  5. Determining the Rock Age: Once the age of the zircon crystal is determined, it provides a minimum age for the rock in which it is found. This is because the zircon crystal could not have formed before the rock itself. Therefore, the age of the zircon crystal represents the minimum age of the rock.
It's important to note that this dating method provides a minimum age for the rock, as it assumes that the zircon crystal was not contaminated with any external sources of lead since its formation. Contamination could lead to inaccurate age estimates. However, when used carefully and in conjunction with other dating methods and geological context, uranium-lead dating of zircon crystals can be a powerful tool for determining the age of rocks and understanding the Earth's geological history.
So, creationists need to explain why that method is wrong by very many orders of magnitude, without changing the strength of the weak and strong nuclear forces, which would have made life impossible when they believe it was magically created on a planet finely tuned for its existence.

From Northwestern Now:
Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt collects a sample from the Moon during the 1972 mission.
NASA image
A lunar zircon grain under a microscope.

Credit: Jennika Greer
A scanning electron microscopy image of the tip of a zircon crystal.

Credit: Jennika Greer
Jennika Greer works at the Northwestern University Center for Atom-Probe Tomography (NUCAPT).

Credit: Dieter Isheim/Northwestern University
Led by researchers at the Field Museum and the University of Glasgow, the study was made possible by Northwestern University’s atom-probe tomography facility, which “nailed down” the age of the oldest crystal in the sample. By revealing the age of these telltale zircon crystals — found hidden within dust collected from the Moon — researchers were able to piece together the timeline of the Moon’s formation.

The study was published Oct. 23 in the journal Geochemical Perspectives Letters.

“This study is a testament to immense technological progress we have made since 1972 when the last manned Moon mission returned to Earth,” said Northwestern’s Dieter Isheim, who co-authored the study. “These samples were brought to Earth half-a-century ago, but only today do we have the necessary tools to perform microanalysis at the requisite level, including atom-probe tomography.”

The atom-by-atom analysis enabled researchers to count how many atoms in the zircon crystals have undergone radioactive decay. When an atom undergoes decay, it sheds protons and neutrons to transform into different elements. Uranium, for example, decays into lead. Because scientists have established how long it takes for this process to unfold, they can assess the age of a sample by looking at the proportion of uranium and lead atoms.

“Radiometric dating works a little bit like an hourglass,” said the Field Museum’s Philipp Heck, the study’s senior author. “In an hourglass, sand flows from one glass bulb to another, with the passage of time indicated by the accumulation of sand in the lower bulb. Radiometric dating works similarly by counting the number of parent atoms and the number of daughter atoms they have transformed to. The passage of time can then be calculated because the transformation rate is known.”

Isheim is a research associate professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and manager of Northwestern’s Center for Atom-Probe Tomography (NUCAPT). David Seidman, the Walter P. Murphy Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering at McCormick and founding director of NUCAPT, also co-authored the study. Heck is the Field Museum’s Robert A. Pritzker Curator for Meteorites and Polar Studies, senior director of the Negaunee Interactive Research Center and professor at the University of Chicago. Jennika Greer, a research associate professor at the University of Glasgow, is the study’s lead author. When the research began, she was a Ph.D. candidate in Heck’s laboratory.

More than 4 billion years ago, when the solar system was still young and the Earth was still growing, a giant Mars-sized object crashed into the Earth. A colossal hunk broke off Earth to form the Moon, and the energy of the impact melted the rock that eventually became the Moon’s surface.

“When the surface was molten like that, zircon crystals couldn’t form and survive,” Heck said. “So, any crystals on the Moon’s surface must have formed after this lunar magma ocean cooled. Otherwise, they would have been melted and their chemical signatures would be erased.”

Because the crystals must have formed after the magma ocean cooled, determining the age of the zircon crystals would reveal the minimum possible age of the Moon. But, to pinpoint the maximum possible age of the Moon, researchers turned to Northwestern’s atom-probe tomography instruments.

“In atom-probe tomography, we start by sharpening a piece of the lunar sample into a very sharp tip, using a focused ion beam microscope, almost like a very fancy pencil sharpener,” Greer said. “Then, we use UV lasers to evaporate atoms from the surface of that tip. The atoms travel through a mass spectrometer, and how fast they move tells us how heavy they are, which in turn tells us what they're made of.”

After determining the materials in the sample and performing radiometric dating, the researchers concluded that the oldest crystals are about 4.46 billion years old. That means the Moon must be at least that old.

It’s important to know when the Moon formed, Heck said, because “the Moon is an important partner in our planetary system. It stabilizes the Earth’s rotational axis. It’s the reason there are 24 hours in a day. It’s the reason we have tides. Without the Moon, life on Earth would look different. It’s a part of our natural system that we want to better understand, and our study provides a tiny puzzle piece in that whole picture.”
From the open access research paper in Geochemical Perspectives Letters:

The crystallisation ages of lunar samples provide critical constraints on the minimum formation age of the Moon and its early evolution. Zircon crystals from Apollo 17 lunar impact melt breccia 72255 preserve ancient domains with a concordant average uranium-lead radiometric date of 4460 ± 31 Ma (Zhang et al., 2021), the oldest lunar zircon yet reported. To assess the possible mobility of radiogenic lead in zircon, which may lead to redistribution and clustering of Pb atoms that may cause a U-Pb age bias (Valley et al., 2014), we investigated a zircon grain from Zhang et al. (2021) by atom probe tomography (APT). The atomic spatial resolution analysis of individual mineral grains demonstrates the absence of nanoscale clustering of lead, which supports a 4.46 Ga ancient formation age for lunar zircon in sample 72255. This age pushes back the age of the first preserved lunar crust by ∼40 Myr and provides a minimum formation age for the Moon within 110 Myr after the formation of the solar system.

J. Greer; B. Zhang; D. Isheim; D.N. Seidman; A. Bouvier; P.R. Heck
4.46 Ga zircons anchor chronology of lunar magma ocean
Geochemical Perspectives Letters 27 49-53. DOI: 10.7185/geochemlet.2334

Copyright: © 2023 The authors.
Published by the European Association of Geochemistry. Open access.
Reprinted under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0)
I would like to see a creationist try to account for this apparent age of the moon in a universe they believe is only 10,000 years old, but as always, I expect the response will be to ignore it and wave it aside as 'wrong' without any evidence to support that view, other than it doesn't accord with what their cult dogma requires them to believe and what their (infallible) mummy and daddy believed.

Thank you for sharing!

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1 comment :

  1. "Determining the Rock Age: Once the age of the zircon crystal is determined, it provides a minimum age for the rock in which it is found. This is because the zircon crystal could not have formed before the rock itself." Two comments. Firstly, one of the beauties of zircons is that lead is incompatible with their crystal structure, so that any lead present must have been generated within the crystal, within which it is unable to move. Secondly, although I am sure this is not relevant to the lunar samples, zircons that have been displaced from their original place of formation could be very much older and the sediments in which they later find themselves. If I recall correctly, there are zircons up to 4.3 billion years old in the Jack Hills region of Australia, although the rocks on which they are found are "only" 3 billion years old


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