A wide spread belief that radiometric decay is time invariant has led to the general acceptance of absolute dating, yet some laboratories report significant variations in the decay rate, some due to the sun’s rotation, or solar flares , and Forbes Magazine reports “Radioactive Decay Rates May Not Be Constant After All”.
Solar affects are basically plasma effects and hence we are dealing with additions of transient electric fields into the earth-system. Electrical engineer Ralph Juergen’s identified a possible explanation for the Polonium halo issue researched by Robert V. Gentry in which Gentry shows that radio halos didn’t support the idea of constant decay rates. Juergens suggested in a paper published in Kronos Vol.III No 1(Fall 1977)
According to experiments best explained by Gamow’s wave mechanics, an alpha particle escaping from an unstable (radioactive) nucleus does not actually climb all the way over the potential barrier rising above the datum line. Instead, it tunnels through at some level below the top. For example, though the barrier at the boundary of the U-238 nucleus rises past 9 million electron-volts (mev) above datum, alpha particles emerge from this nucleus with energies of only about 4 mev. And since their final (observable) energies are due entirely to electrostatic repulsion in the region outside the barrier, they evidently make their way through the barrier at a level corresponding to 4 mev.
But what is the significance of the datum — the “zero” of electric potential — from which these energies are measured? Clearly, since the data dealt with are derived from terrestrial experiments, this “zero” can be nothing other than an arbitrary value assigned to the electric potential of the surface of our planet — Earth potential.
What, then, if this datum should be shifted – raised or lowered with respect to the nuclear potential well, whose dimensions are apparently unrelated to electric forces – by a sudden change in Earth potential?
The Earth appears to be strongly charged with negative electricity, so that its surface electric potential is low, which is to say, highly negative. Suppose, then, that Earth potential is suddenly lowered by just 1 million volts – this, in all likelihood, an almost negligibly small fraction of the planet’s “normal” negative electric potential. The potential (energy) curve outside our radioactive nucleus presumably must now change and take the form of the dashed curve in the figure. Staying with our example of an atom of U-238, we find that an escaping alpha particle (following the same tunnel as before) emerges to be accelerated through a voltage drop and to a final energy half again as great as before – to about 6 mev. Reference to Figure 1 (main text) suggests that we should suddenly find that the half-life of every atom of U-238 at the surface of the Earth has been reduced from 4.5 billion years to something like 1 second! On this basis, any abrupt lowering of Earth potential by a mere million volts could be expected to produce rampant radioactivity, with consequent lethal or at least strongly mutational effects on all forms of life.
But of course we are probably unjustified in assuming that Figure 1 is applicable to the postulated conditions; it may well be that changing Earth potentials also shift the curve of Figure 1 up or down, right or left, so that changes in half-lives are much less drastic than that just described. And it may be, too, that nuclear binding forces are not entirely insensitive to environmental electric potentials, and that the levels of escape tunnels also vary as datum levels change.
Nevertheless, it would seem that Earth potentials must be taken into account in theories of radioactive decay. And we may be forgiven for suggesting here that parentless polonium, sometime in the past when the Earth’s electric potential was higher than it is today, could well have been a radioactive element with a reasonably long half-life, such that it could survive periods of cooling and crystallization in once-molten rocks.
In 1989 Russian scientists N V Udaltsova, V A Kolombet and S E Shnol published a paper “The possible Gravitational Nature Of Factors Influencing Discrete Macroscopic Fluctuations, in Geo-Cosmic Relations: The Earth and Its Macro Environment. Proc. First. In. Cong. Ed. Tomassen et al, Pudoc, Wagenigen, Holland.
These authors show that alpha particle emission from 239Pu, measured continuously for several months with 1min intervals, varied systematically with the position of the moon, wrt horizon, and considered the effect as gravitational. In the light of plasma physics, it is more plausible the effect is due to changes in the Earth’s electric potential or electric field, as suggested by Juergens, with the moon moving in and out of the earth’s magnetosphere and thus affecting the decay rate. Fluctuations in the E field have effects some 10^39 greater than gravitational ones. They conducted another experiment comparing 239Pu histograms with seismic activity and again noted a correlation, causing them to conclude the effect was gravitational, but as we are now realising seismicity has electrical origins, it is equally likely that the correlation is also electrical.
So if the radiometric half-life is no longer a constant, but depends on the E field magnitude, then radiometric dating is fallacious. Whether it’s carbon 14 or 239U, 235U or whatever, these isotopes can’t measure the passage of time, and means that radiometric chronologies are basically worthless, since the primary assumption of constancy of decay rates is not met
So how do we date archaeological strata or sedimentary strata? I don’t think we can. And does it matter? No, not really since we can still use the principle of superposition, albeit cautiously, to rank strata in sequence. But arguments relying on carbon dating etc should be dismissed since it is more likely such dates reflect, as Richard Milton impertinently pointed out decades ago, chronological presumptions; dates that support our theory are in the main body of the text, dates that are slightly out, footnoted, and dates seriously in contradiction, ignored – which really sums up the religious or dogmatic mind to a fine degree.
So how can we date things? As it stands today, we can limit retrocalculate using the Gregorian system to 1582 when it was adopted. Before that time things changed, most likely due to the 930 AD event identified by Heinsohn, where I suspect the orbital position, the orbital velocity and the daily rotation might have changed slightly, as well as the earth careening to a new axis of figure to the ecliptic. Which factors were important? I don’t think we can ever know that, though I suspect from vector analysis of the depositional dynamics of Quaternary sediments we should be able to come up with some guesses. For example Greenland is a weird name to give to a white ice bound landmass, so I wonder if prior to 930AD the earth’s orientation was such that instead of being inclined 23.5 degrees to ecliptic as it is now, it might have been zero degrees so that the axis of rotation was vertical? That configuration might put Greenland into a more temperate or tropical location and hence allow it to be green. And if the Piris Reis map showing an ice free antarctic is accurate, then that continent may also have been in warmer latitudes, not from plate tectonics or continental drift, but from a changed axis of spin. One might wonder then if the Romans recognised the seasons? Judging by their attire, one wonders, since we never see paintings or carvings of Etruscans or Romans in winter attire – only in their loose fitting togas, as far as I have experienced.
These conjectures will no doubt cause apoplexy among the usual suspects though if some bellicose religious fundamentalist holding his/her holy book insists I accept their holy dates on pain of death, I suspect I would show extreme cowardice to avoid being burned on the stake or from decapitation as presently practiced by some.