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I get email: looking for a geophysicist

I got a strange phone call today, from a fellow who was very polite, so I was polite in return, but it was weird — he kept asking me strange questions about the energy involved in breaking up supercontinents, and how much water could be stored under a supercontinent (which had me suspicious right there), and he was also complaining about how none of the geologists anywhere ever seemed to study this stuff. I told him repeatedly that what he needed to do was talk to a geophysicist, which I wasn’t, and that I really couldn’t help him. He had a few very basic question about plate tectonics that I could answer, but otherwise…this is not my field.

He seemed like a somewhat confused layman trying to get rationalizations for some preconceptions. And then he wrote to me.

He claims to be a Ph.D. student, and he’s getting these questions from Walt Brown. The creationist Walt Brown. Hydroplate theory. Flood creationist. Etc.

Dear Dr. PZ Meyers [sigh],

I’ve been reading your book and enjoying it. I know you aren’t a geophysics professor, but mentioned Walt Brown stating a coalescing of hydrogens and oxygens above perhaps a single, vast continent brought on 40 days and 40 nights of rain, but having taken a look at his website he seems more emphasizing that our colleges and labs take no interest at all in delving into the most size and strength of a Supercontinent planet Earth could (possibly) have broken up above where it lifted up its mid-ocean range by way of the most water it which could have had under pressure below it. Volcano interiors sometimes generate inner lightnings. Earthquaked continent sometimes do. Perhaps our planet made its record inner lightning intensities dividing a Supercontinent into its seven continents. I find it hard to believe, from what a few of my Earth science professors pointed out to me, that anyone is in possession of the absolute truth about how the Earth went from not having to having its mid-ocean range.

Thank you for being friendly to me on the phone. Please tell me if you were aware of this information on how the Earth’s heavy radioactive elements are distributed?

“The Earth’s continental crust occupies 41.2% of the surface area but represents only 0.35% of the total mass of our planet.”

(Hugh Richard Rollinson, Ph.D.[geochemistry], Early Earth Systems [Blackwell Publishing: Malden, MA, 2007], p. 134)

“90% of uranium and thorium are concentrated in the continents.”*

*Dan F. C. Pribnow, Ph.D.(geophysics), “Radiogenic Heat Production in the Upper Third of Continental Crust from KTB,” Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 24, 1 February 1997, p. 349.

“Earth’s radioactivity was confined to the crust, a few tens of kilometers thick.”

(John D. Stacey, Physics of the Earth, 3rd edition (1992), p. 45)

“Uranium, thorium and potassium are the main elements contributing to natural terrestrial radioactivity.. All three of the radioactive elements are strongly partitioned into the continental crust.”

(J. A. Plant and A. D. Saunders, Oxford Journals, Vol. 68, p. 25)

“The molten rock oozing from midocean ridges lacks much of the uranium, thorium, and other trace elements that spew from some aboveground volcanoes.”

(Sid Perkins, “New Mantle Model Gets the Water Out,” Science News, Vol. 164, 13 September 2003, p. 174.

Continental crust is roughly a hundredfold more concentrated with radioactivity than ocean-floor crust is.

“Surface rocks show traces of radioactive materials, and while the quantities thus found are very minute, the aggregate amount is sufficient, if scattered with this density throughout the earth, to suppy, many times over, the present yearly loss of heat. In fact, so much heat could be developed in this way that it has been practically necessary to make the assumption that the radioactive materials are limited in occurence to a surface shell only a few kilometers in thickness”

(Leonard R. Ingersoll, et al., Heat Conduction : With Engineering, Geological and Other Applications, revised edition [University of Wisconsin Press: Madison, WI, 1954], p. 102)

“Heat production rate is well correlated to lithology; no significant variation with depth, neither strictly linear nor exponential, is observed over the entire depths of the [two German holes].”

(Christoph Clauser, et al., “The Thermal Regime of the Crystalline Continental Crust: Implications from the KTB, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 102, No. B8, 10 August 1007, p. 18,418)

Germany’s Deep Drilling Project discovered variations in heat-exuding radioactivity related to the rock types, not to depths.

Thank you, Rick Keane

P.S.

I’m working toward getting a Ph.D. in geophysics with respect to how lightnings can synthesize and disintegrate (e.g. via building up free neutron density and interactions) heavy atomic weight radioactive elements. It is known to science: the magnetic forces between electrons associated with a billion volt; million amp lightning channel are extremely significant relative to their electrostatic forces so their magnetic pinch effects are consequential when they are shooting between, through and around certain light and medium weight nuclei as far as pulling and pushing them together into proximities wherein their strong nuclear forces interact and overcome their Coulombic barriers. The channel radius decreases with larger lightning currents, e.g., 1 billion volts or more.

“A lightning bolt is an example of a Z-pinch discharge. . . A Z-pinch operating at 600 kV and I = 100 kA in hydrogen at 500 Pa pinched from an initial radius of 5mm down to a pinch radius of a = 1.5 mm, and remained stable for 100 nanoseconds.*”

*P. Choi, et al., IAEA Conference, 1978.

(Thomas J. Dolan, Ph.D.[nuclear engineering], Fusion Research [Pergamon: Oxford, UK, 1982], p. 312)

“It is possible for the magnetic pinch effect to occur if the lightning current is high enough while the channel radius is small. For example, for a channel radius of 1 cm, a current of 8 x 104 amp must flow before the magnetic pressure at the surface of the channel exceeds 10 atm. For a channel radius of 0.1 cm, the current must exceed 8 × 103 amp.”

(Martin A. Uman, Ph.D.[electrical engineering], Lightning [McGraw-Hill: New York, NY, 1969], p. 241)

The electrons’ negative charges repel each other. When close < 3 fm, their repulsion gets strong. Hence their electrostatic forces try to blow outer electrons away from the clusters. But there's a velocity-dependent magnetic force always acting in a direction perpendicular to their magnetic fields. Magnetic forces between electrons will produce magnetic pinch effects counteracting Coulomb repulsions between electrons acting in the opposite direction.

So, with respect to the magnetic fields encircling electrons in a counterclockwise direction, they’re velocity-dependent magnetic forces. They depend not only on the positions of the particles through the value of the magnetic field, but also on the velocities of the particles. The magnetic (Lorentz) force on a charged particle involves the velocity vector of the particle and the speed of light. It’s perpendicular to the velocity and the magnetic field.

An electron emits a velocity-dependent magnetic field akin to the magnetic field encircling a current carrying wire (a magnetic force vector perpendicular to the direction of the field). Its magnetic force exerts on any other electrons traveling near to it in the same direction (directed radially inward to the first electron by which a a bunching up of the outer electrons occurs).

“In 1895 he [Hendrik Lorentz] demonstrated that a moving charged particle would experience a force in a background magnetic field, because moving charges produce magnetic fields, and are therefore magnets and so also experience forces due to other magnets.”

(Lawrence M. Krauss, Ph.D.[physics], Hiding in the Mirror [Penguin: New York, NY, 2005], p. 30)

“. .a magnetic field generates a force at right angles to the field’s direction. Also, unlike electric forces, magnetic forces depend on the charges’ velocities.”

(Paul Halpern, Ph.D.[physics], Collider [John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ, 2009], p. 57)

“More current means a stronger magnetic field.”

(Don Lincoln, Ph.D.[physics], The Quantum Frontier [John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, MD, 2009], p. 76)

The Lorentz forces/ampere/magnetic-pinch effects/self-focusing of the electrons in extraordinarily intense lightnings keeps their electrostatic repulsive forces from blowing up their beams. The electrons’ Lorentz forces attract each other with Ampere effects strong enough to overcome their Coulombic repulsive forces and thermal expansions.

One might wonder the most atomic weights of nuclides that can be magnetically pinched into 2 femtometer proximities by the most densities; velocities of beams of electrons that a 1 billion amp; 1 million volt lightning might be able to shoot between, through and around nuclides which are shooting through it in the opposite direction coming from the side of it that has a condensation of positively charged ions. (Two nickel nuclei; for instance, have a 99 MeV Coulombic repulsion.)

Physical Review paper by the pioneer in magnetic pinch effect research, Dr. Will Bennett: http://astrophysics.fic.uni.lodz.pl/100yrs/pdf/10/002.pdf

LIGHTNINGS (even average voltages and amperages–not even close to 1 billion volts and 1 million amperes–have been observed and measured making nuclear reactions, e.g. inverse beta decays, build ups of free neutron densities; interactions with magnetic pinch effects):

“It will be shown that the observations of near-ground AGR [atmospheric gamma radiation] following lightning are consistent with the production and subsequent decay of a combination of atmospheric radioisotopes with 10-100 minute half-lives produced via nuclear reactions on the more abundant elements in the atmosphere.”

(Mark B. Greenfield et al., “Near-Ground Detection of Atmospheric Rays Associated with Lightning,” Journal of Applied Physics, Vol. 93, 1 February 2003, p. 1840)

“Immediately after lightning crackled through the atmosphere, the detectors would register a burst of gamma rays, followed by about 15 minutes later by an extended shower of gamma rays that peaked after 70 minutes and then tapered off with a distinctive 50-minute half-life.”

(Kim Krieger, “Lightning Strikes and Gammas Follow?” Science, Vol. 304, 2 April 2004, p. 43)

“Observations of > 10 MeV gamma rays observed in NaI detectors within 10s of meters from and coincident with rocket-triggered lightning at the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing suggest that charged particles accelerated in intense electric fields associated with lightning give rise to photons with sufficient energy to initiate nuclear reactions.”*

*Joseph W. Dwyer, Ph.D.(physics), et al. “Energetic Radiation Produced During Rocket-Triggered Lightning,” Science 31 January 2003, Vol. 299, no. 5607, pp. 694-697.

(Greenfield, M.B.; Sakuma, K.; Ikeda, Y; Kubo, K., “Delayed gamma radiation from lightning induced nuclear reactions,” American Physical Society, March Meeting 2004, March 22-26, 2004, Palais des Congres de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, MEETING ID: MAR04, abstract #D39.003)

“The generation of neutrons in thunderstorm electric fields is related to photonuclear reactions in gigantic upward atmospheric discharges caused by relativistic runaway electron bremsstrahlung.”

(Leonid P. Babich, Sc.D.[physics], “Neutron generation mechanism correlated with lightning discharges,” Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, Springer, 1 January 2007. Dr. Babich is the head of the Plasma Physics Laboratory at the Russian Federal Nuclear Center All Russian Institute of Experimental Physics, Sarov, Russia)

“Nuclear transmutations and fast neutrons have been observed to emerge from large electrical current pulses through wire filaments which are induced to explode. The nuclear reactions may be explained as inverse beta transitions of energetic electrons absorbed either directly by single protons in Hydrogen or by protons embedded in other more massive nuclei.”

(A.Widom, Y.N. Srivastava, L. Larsen, “Energetic Electrons and Nuclear Transmutations in Exploding Wires,” Physics Faculty Publications, Vol. 174, January 01, 2007)

“In 1992 Gurevich et al. [1992] described how a relativistic avalanche mechanism that they termed relativistic runaway breakdown would work in the electric field of a thunderstorm and it became clear that the lightning discharge could take on an entirely different character than previously envisioned [Dwyer, 2005]. Subsequent theoretical and observational work has supported the notion that relativistic runaway breakdown plays a significant role in the lightnings process. As will be shown in this paper the measurements of enhanced neutron fluxes in association with lightning can only serve to further confirm this notion.”

(Leonid P. Babich, Sc.D.[physics], Robert A. Roussel-Dupre, “Origin of neutron flux increases observed in correlation with lightning,” Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 112, 6 July 2007)

http://crdlx5.yerphi.am/files/thunder/2007Babich0.pdf

“Quite analogouse correlation of the neutron enhancements with electric discharges is seen in other events. Taking into account that the atmospheric discharge lasts for a few hundred milliseconds while the neutron detectors have a 1-min time resolution we see that the additional neutron flux generated in every discharge should be really giant!”

(A.V. Gurevich, et al., “Strong Flux of Low-Energy Neutrons Produced by Thunderstorms,” Physical Review Letters , Vol. 108, 19 March 2012)

“Photonuclear reactions are capable of accounting for the possible amplifications of neutron flux in thunderstorm atmosphere since in correlation with thunderstorms gamma ray flashes were repeatedly observed with spectra extending high above the threshold of photonuclear reactions in air. By numerical simulations, it was demonstrated that gamma ray pulses detected in thunderstorm atmosphere are capable of generating photonuclear neutrons in numbers sufficient to be detected even at sea level. . . It would seem that, for neutron generation, in thunderstorm atmosphere, strong nuclear interaction is responsible.”

(L.P. Babich, E.I. Bochkov, I.M. Kutsyk, and A.N. Zalyalov, “On Amplifications of Photonuclear Flux in Thunderstorm Atmosphere and Possibility of Detecting Them,” Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Physics, Vol. 97, May 2013, p. 291)

Thank you,

Rick Keane

Just another tip here, Mr Keane: real scholars and students don’t simply concatenate a whole bunch of quote fragments and say, “explain this”. You’ve cited a bunch of geology texts; have you read them to get clarification on those scattered quotes? That’s where you start. Not by phoning up biologists and asking them to explain geophysics to you.

But maybe there are some readers here who know that field better than I do (which is not a high hurdle to cross) and they can address a few of the points. Given that they’re from Brown and the Center for Scientific Creation, though, I don’t think you’re going to find any answers here to fit your presuppositions.

Comments

  1. consciousness razor says

    That’s one hell of a postscript. It’s pretty funny how it’s signed twice, before and after.

  2. magistramarla says

    Before my eyes glazed over I was thinking that the level of writing and the grammar evidenced in this e-mail didn’t seem like the work of a PHD student.
    I’m just an old retired high school teacher, but I would expect a bit more from someone who is supposedly highly educated.

  3. lochaber says

    I’m hoping that’s a typo, and not him actually citing some paper over a millennium old?

    About the mid ocean ridge, what they look like before they are formed> something like the Mississippi basin, then the African rift lakes, then the Gulf of Arabia, then an ocean (with a mid ocean ridge).

  4. whheydt says

    From what I could stand to read of that, he seems to think that lightning can cause nuclear fusion.

  5. I've got the WTF blues says

    Obviously, because of lightnings and earthquaked continents. God.

    Duh.

    (it reads like one of those Nigerian prince email scams)

  6. Lofty says

    Scientists built the LHC to study matter because raising the lightning rod on the Teutonic Schloss just wasn’t generating the electron-volts, you know.

  7. LicoriceAllsort says

    I had a post-doc who would similarly collect long quotations from various texts and then spew them all over his PowerPoint presentations. I found it to be fucking annoying but was repeatedly surprised that it seemed to actually bolster his credibility for a large number of people in the audience.

  8. IslandBrewer says

    Back at UC Berkeley, in Allan Wilson’s Lab, there was a wall next to where the grad students had their desks. For those who don’t know, Allan Wilson was the evolutionary biologist who first started using PCR to amplify and sequence genes from organisms and compare them in greater detail, creating algorithms to compare closely related sequences. He also came up with the idea of molecular clocks. Evolutionary Biologists like Matt Stoneking and Svante Paabo (sorry, Svante, can’t do umlauts) came out of the Wilson Lab.

    Allan Wilson’s lab also came up with the idea and initial work on Mitochondrial Eve.

    Anyway, because of Allan’s notoriety from Mitochondrial Eve, he got letters. Lots of letters. He gave the most “interesting” ones to his grad students to read. The choicest ones went up on the board. My friends in Allan’s Lab and I spent hours and hours reading and laughing at the sorts of letters and pontifications, and just plain nutbaggery that he received.

    My favorite ones were about Atlantis.

  9. I've got the WTF blues says

    Instead of urinating upon or defiling your students with dust or any filth, you could hand them copies of this email and tell them to answer it.

  10. davehooke says

    I know you aren’t a geophysics professor, but mentioned Walt Brown stating a coalescing of hydrogens and oxygens above perhaps a single, vast continent brought on 40 days and 40 nights of rain, but having taken a look at his website he seems more emphasizing that our colleges and labs take no interest at all in delving into the most size and strength of a Supercontinent planet Earth could (possibly) have broken up above where it lifted up its mid-ocean range by way of the most water it which could have had under pressure below it.

    It is recommended that certain entrants (e.g international applicants) sit the “competence in fluent English” test as part of the admissions procedure.

  11. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Holy freakin’ crap.

    Distribution of radioactive elements, lolwut? Lightning, Rick. Lightning. Now go get that doctorate.

    Radionuclides in continental crust → Mid-ocean ridge → Continental drift → Volcanoes → Lightning → electromagnetic fields → radionuclides. FTW. You got it!

    BTW, before the current mid-ocean ridge arrangement, during the last supercontinent phase [now, you might want to put a bag over your head because your mind is about to be blown] there was a different arrangement of of mid-ocean ridges and those change over time, as did the positions of the continents, and just how much continental crust there was, all the way back. Including during the last 2 or so occasions the Earth had supercontinents.

    Psst. You ever wonder what happens when a mid-ocean ridge is subducted?

  12. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    Admittedly I only ever got a BSc in Geology, but during those three years of study I never, not once, heard anything about continental “inner lightnings”. Can someone more knowledgeable than I explain what the fuck he’s talking about?

    And what exactly is his point about the vast majority of radioactive elements being confined to continental crust? He lists a lot of things which back up that statement, but never seems to explain what his point is.

  13. Kevin Anthoney says

    “The Earth’s continental crust occupies 41.2% of the surface area but represents only 0.35% of the total mass of our planet.”

    I’m not a geophysicist either, but comparing a volume-related quantity (such as mass) with a surface area isn’t usually helpful.

  14. pHred says

    Okay I am a geologist and do have a background in geophysics though technically my PhD was in contaminant hydrogeology. That is so messed up I don’t even know where to start. Heck I could’t even read it all. My eyes started a boycott.

    But there is a lovely book that was recently rereleased in a new edition How to Build a Habitable Planet. It is over 700 pages long but is only $34 and covers all of this ground. Unfortunately the purported student apparently has seen books but doesn’t seem to understand what they actually say.

  15. David Marjanović says

    So… continental crust is 100 % more concentrated in radioactive elements than oceanic crust is (quote above); but continental crust makes up much less than 1 % of the planet (quote above), and oceanic crust even less (dead fucking obvious).

    I conclude that the vast majority of heat production from radioactivity still happens in the core and the mantle, and that this heat drives plate tectonics exactly as I’m sure all those quoted textbooks say.

    And what is this creationist waffling about hydrogen and oxygen lying around as free elements in huge amounts? That would be a miracle.

    本当ぬ
    (true that)

    Trees are true in Japanese…? ~:-|

    Admittedly I only ever got a BSc in Geology, but during those three years of study I never, not once, heard anything about continental “inner lightnings”. Can someone more knowledgeable than I explain what the fuck he’s talking about?

    I think he’s talking about lightning in volcanic clouds. If such lightning happens deep enough down, and if you have no fucking sense of scale, it just might generate enough radioactive stuff for…

    And what exactly is his point about the vast majority of radioactive elements being confined to continental crust? He lists a lot of things which back up that statement, but never seems to explain what his point is.

    Being a creationist, he never does, because he thinks he needs to be sneaky. I think the point is that he tries to believe there’s not enough radioactivity (and therefore heat) in the core and mantle to drive plate tectonics, therefore hydroplate theory!!!1!1! Never mind asking why the outer core is liquid.

  16. David Marjanović says

    *headdesk* That’s a root, not a tree. Sorry. Nihon no hon, is that how you say it?

    How to Build a Habitable Planet

    Link doesn’t work.

  17. tomhuld says

    Just a wild-assed guess from a non-geophysicist and amateur observer of creationists:

    He seems to be arguing that

    1) Most radioactive elements are concentrated in the continental crust.

    2) Lightning can produce radioactive elements

    Ergo, the radioactive elements we see today are created by lightning and therefore can’t be used to estimate the age of the earth which “proves” the earth is only 6000 years old.

    1) sounds quite suspicious, some of his quotes are old, and others may be quote-mined. It sounds extremely unlikely that 2) would be a significant source of radioactivity, much less of elements like uranium or thorium. I’m sure geophysicist or nuclear physicists could have a lot of fun debunking this. It is about as likely as the metallic hydrogen firmament around the earth before the flood.

    Of course, it doesn’t matter how preposterous the claim, it will still be used by creationists.

  18. usagichan says

    David @ 31

    before 違う answers

    本 not 木

    root not tree, as in “the root 本 is correct 当たる” or Hontou phonetically…

  19. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @jemimacole

    I suspect any competent geophysicist would need between five and ten hours to pick the relevant, competent, geophysical jaw up off the floor and gain control of the competent, geophysical, hysterical laughter. Refutation would not occur until hyperventilating ceased.

  20. says

    drxym @25:

    I suspect the person is showing the early signs of mental illness.

    This is not an acceptable comment, as there is no basis to bring mental illness into play, and doing so results in splash damage. Please refrain from such comments in the future. Thank you.

  21. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Of course, it doesn’t matter how preposterous the claim, it will still be used by creationists.

    Hmmm.

    Absolutely everything must have a cause. Therefore the one thing that absolutely must exist is something that has no cause whatsoever…

    …which created you perfect, except for your penis.

    Here, let me go at that with a knife. It will make that uncaused thing love you better.

    Yep.

  22. wcorvi says

    #31 – “Never mind asking why the outer core is liquid.”

    Of COURSE the outer core is liquid – that’s where all the flood waters came from, and went back to.

  23. Usernames are smart says

    …labs take no interest at all in delving into the most size and strength of a Supercontinent planet Earth could (possibly) have broken up above where it lifted up its mid-ocean range by way of the most water it which could have had under pressure below it.

    NO. the bibble is batshit wrong about this. There is no water under the oceanic ridges, just magma.

    // Not a Geophysicist, just BSc in it, with a bunch a grad courses thrown in for good measure

  24. dancaban says

    Sentence one I agree with. Sentence two would have got me throwing this in the bin. Unless I ran a blog.

  25. Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness says

    I’m working toward getting a Ph.D. in geophysics with respect to how lightnings can synthesize and disintegrate (e.g. via building up free neutron density and interactions) heavy atomic weight radioactive elements.

    The Lorentz forces/ampere/magnetic-pinch effects/self-focusing of the electrons in extraordinarily intense lightnings keeps their electrostatic repulsive forces from blowing up their beams.

    One might wonder the most atomic weights of nuclides that can be magnetically pinched into 2 femtometer proximities by the most densities; velocities of beams of electrons that a 1 billion amp; 1 million volt lightning might be able to shoot between, through and around nuclides which are shooting through it in the opposite direction coming from the side of it that has a condensation of positively charged ions.

    With good will and friendship for all, I could not make out what the hell that was supposed to mean. That ain’t English and it ain’t science. It’s pure bafflegab. Now, a pretty high quality bafflegab, but still …
    The most atomic weights of nuclides? Huh?
    When this chap gets a Ph.D, could he have it translated into English? Not saying he couldn’t manage an advanced degree, but he isn’t trying to do so in actual English.
    When I get emails like this, I ask the student to put together a little paper that I could read, with no quotes. A summary. Mostly, you don’t get it, ever, and the ordeal is over. …Mostly.

  26. Holms says

    This doesn’t even remotely need a geophysicist or geologist to know that this guy talking gibberish.

    Just a few observations:

    – He seems to imply that the biblical deluge (a red flag in itself) may have been possible before the last supercontinent broke up. This was something like 200 million years ago, or 199.8 million years before Homo sapiens. If this is intended to reconcile the biblical history with geology, all it manages is to shift the clash elsewhere; e.g. our evolutionary history.

    – Also, the ‘coalescing of hydrogen and oxygen’ thing is empty blather.

    – Continents, super- or otherwise, break apart via plate tectonic rifting, but this guy seems to think it is actually caused by an upwelling of water under the crust WTF.

    – Volcano interiors do not have lightning, but their plumes sometimes do. That shit is fucking rad.

    – Continent interiors don’t have lightning ffs.

    I find it hard to believe, from what a few of my Earth science professors pointed out to me, that anyone is in possession of the absolute truth about how the Earth went from not having to having its mid-ocean range.
    This guy reeks of christian apologetics: “something from nothing OMG!”

    – A list of sources indicating a pattern of concentration of radioactive elemts to the continental crust, with no discernable point. Also, why the hell is he asking for input on this from someone he knows to be a biologist?

    – Shitloads and shitloads of further references regarding lightning and nucleosynthesis, again with no point. Again, to someone he knows is a biologist.

    I really can’t figure out what this guy is attempting to achieve here.

  27. george gonzalez says

    Yeah, whenever I respond to some “free energy” blog, mentioning things like “thermodynamics”, I get back all kinds of crank links. Many point to one particular site, where on the first page, the guy solves like twelve major unknowns, like the mass of the electron, and a “better” alternative to Relativity.You can point out that if just ONE of those were correct, this guy would have gotten a Nobel Prize, but that somehow gets no traction with those guys.

  28. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I’m working toward getting a Ph.D. in geophysics with respect to how lightnings can synthesize and disintegrate (e.g. via building up free neutron density and interactions) heavy atomic weight radioactive elements.

    No you’re not, unless making shit up = working toward.

  29. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    @David Marjanovic #34

    Being a creationist, he never does, because he thinks he needs to be sneaky. I think the point is that he tries to believe there’s not enough radioactivity (and therefore heat) in the core and mantle to drive plate tectonics, therefore hydroplate theory!!!1!1!

    Oh, I see! So his contention is that, since MORB is lower in radioactive elements than continental crust, the mantle must not have any radioactive elements, therefore no convection currents, therefore no plate movement?

    I have to ask, where does he imagine that the magma from continental volcanoes comes from?

  30. Lofty says

    I have to ask, where does he imagine that the magma from continental volcanoes comes from?

    Duh. Hell, of course.

  31. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    Been reading up on hydroplate theory. Here’s what creationsience.com has to say on the matter:

    But first, what is a hydroplate? Before the global flood[1], considerable water was under earth’s crust[2]. Pressure increases[3] in this subterranean water ruptured that crust, breaking it into plates. The escaping water flooded the earth. Because hydro means water[4], those crustal plates will be called hydroplates. Where they broke, how they moved, and hundreds of other details and evidence—all consistent with the laws of physics—constitute the hydroplate theory and explain to a great extent why the earth looks as it does.

    1- Which never happened.
    2- No it wasn’t. Where’s the proof? Explain the varying densities in the mantle and core. Fuck, explain the fact we have a distinguihsable core and mantle. Explain the fact the core is hot. If the Earth is full of water, why all of those things?
    3- Why? Why did the pressure increase? I want the mechanism and the cause.
    4- Patronising douchebags.

    I think that’s enough to begin with.

  32. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    @Lofty

    Ah, of course! And MORB is extruded from purgatory. Because Hell took all of Purgatorys radioactive elements, because it needs them for torturing Stalin, so purgatory has none left to put in the basalt.

  33. pHred says

    @37 Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @jemimacole

    I suspect any competent geophysicist would need between five and ten hours to pick the relevant, competent, geophysical jaw up off the floor and gain control of the competent, geophysical, hysterical laughter. Refutation would not occur until hyperventilating ceased.

    QFT!

    I am still in the hyperventilating state. Seriously besides the fact that the language is so mangled it is impossible to interpret this is so bad it isn’t even wrong. I wasn’t kidding that I didn’t even know where to start. Like

    a coalescing of hydrogens and oxygens above perhaps a single, vast continent brought on 40 days and 40 nights of rain

    Just no, no, no, no – the massive outgassing of the mantle that is believed to have created the oceans occurred when there were no continents – the surface of the Earth would have been something like all ocean crust with little island arcs being formed and plowing around on lots of tiny plates – it too a long time for these original chunks of material to form the cores of continents.

    The rest of the sentence is just gibberish. The “water” was released from the decomposition of hydrate minerals (minerals that contain H2O in their solid structure like mica and amphibole). When these minerals break down they release gas which provide the components to create water and the atmosphere (such as CO2). The was no water pressure – I keep picturing a waterbed here for some reason – it wasn’t like that.

    After that is more pure gibberish that I really don’t understand where he is trying to go. Yes uranium is concentrated in continental crust – large atoms that don’t fit neatly into crystalline lattices stay in the liquid melt until basically forced to solidify in granite – which is what forms the bulk of the continents. Yes there are details here but really, ugh. Uranium, thorium etc. are a special subset of the lithophile elements (elements that form the crust and outer mantle predominately silicates) called magmaphile elements. This has long been an area of research – has he ever heard of Bowen Reaction Series for pete’s sake ?

    Right I just realized that I am gibbering now too. I am going to stop and get coffee now.

  34. pHred says

    Oddly – the Earth is “full of water” – it just is not loose molecules of H2O – it is bound into solid mineral lattice structures. I know some researchers has estimated that if the entire mantle degassed again it would release an amount of water roughly equal to all of water on the surface now. I know someone is going to want a cite, but I really NEED coffee now. And to do something about getting ready for class. EEK

  35. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    What.

    The.

    Fuck?

    PZ, can I have his address? I’m mailing him an invoice for 20 minutes of my time and the 30 brain cells I destroyed by headdesking.

  36. says

    Ugh. This preoccupation with Z-pinches and electromagnetism being responsible for nuclear reactions reminds me strongly of the ‘Electric Universe’ pseudoscience that I recently discovered through some interactions on christianforums.com

    The style is also slightly reminiscent of one of the posters there, Justatruthseeker, who tosses out (poorly understood, out of context, sometimes from crank sources) quotes with references as though they were magic spells to defeat his enemies.

    I doubt it’s the same person, but maybe this is part of the MO of the supporters of the Electric Universe (which emerged, I believe, out of Velikovskianism)

  37. kantalope says

    Oh – and I’m glad that Neptunism is making a comeback – Vulcanists have been having it too easy for too long.

  38. vaiyt says

    “I find it hard to believe, from what a few of my Earth science professors pointed out to me, that anyone is in possession of the absolute truth about how the Earth went from not having to having its mid-ocean range.”

    “Unless they are creationists, which I will trust unquestioningly.”

  39. pHred says

    @56 kantalope

    Oh – and I’m glad that Neptunism is making a comeback.

    Oh great – I am back to hysterical laughter again! And I haven’t thought about Velikovskianism is ages. This is like cleaning out the dust bunnies from under my desk.

  40. raven says

    Germany’s Deep Drilling Project discovered variations in heat-exuding radioactivity related to the rock types, not to depths.

    This guy has xian creationist crackpot written all over him. When you toss out reason and data, your chances of understanding the real world are zero.

    But I had to laugh at this one.

    Of course, different rocks differ in their radioactivity. That different rocks are…different in composition is a tautology.

    This is the whole basis of the stone age on. Different rocks chip easier. Mining of minerals, metals, and fossil fuels depends on different rock types having different concentrations of metals and carbon compounds. This is an important factor that made it possible for us to develop a modern technological civilization.

  41. pHred says

    well at least for some of us to develop a modern technological civilization. Dog only knows what that guy is trying to develop.

  42. says

    @56: One shiny new internet for you. To hell with this upstart Catastrophist vs. Uniformitarian bun-fight — lets get back to the truly fundamental questions! Teach The Controversy!

  43. Pierce R. Butler says

    … observations of near-ground AGR [atmospheric gamma radiation] following lightning are consistent with the production and subsequent decay of a combination of atmospheric radioisotopes with 10-100 minute half-lives produced via nuclear reactions on the more abundant elements in the atmosphere. …
    Immediately after lightning crackled through the atmosphere, the detectors would register a burst of gamma rays, followed by about 15 minutes later by an extended shower of gamma rays that peaked after 70 minutes and then tapered off with a distinctive 50-minute half-life.

    Any factuality to any of this at all? If so, what’s really going on?

  44. Kevin Anthoney says

    This nuclear fusion from lightning thing – if it actually happened, would it be an example of an undirected physical force creating more complex structures out of simpler precursors?

  45. Feats of Cats says

    I’m working toward getting a Ph.D. in geophysics

    I’m working towards becoming the president of the galaxy. Can you please explain all of politics to me?

  46. Thomas Wright says

    Dr. Myers, I don’t have your book handy, but I understood your point to be that creationists must not have much faith in God’s ability to perform miracles, or they wouldn’t need explanations like this in the first place. So we don’t need to consider whether “a coalescing of hydrogens and oxygens above perhaps a single, vast continent brought on 40 days and 40 nights of rain.” God could have just said, “Let there be water!” and there would be water.

    It seems that Mr. Keane could have saved himself a lot of time and effort, completely aside from the time the rest of us have put into this matter.

  47. timanthony says

    PZ could design and teach another entire course if he could spare the time from ridiculing people who are self-evidently ridiculous even when not having undue attention focused on them.

    On the plus side, and it’s not a small one, going after rabid theists is a dirty job but someone’s got to do it. Thankfully it’s also a fun job, at least sometimes. So, happily, we have a bunch of people doing it, and they’re doing a pretty good job of it. PZ is assuredly one of them. Kudos to him for that, even he thinks it’s nothing but super-fun. I fully intend to buy his new book, but I’m presently preoccupied with procrastinating.

    Yet, articles like this one I don’t see a need for. I’m basically a fan of PZ’s, visit here every day and usually more than once, but he catches me by surprise semi-regularly. It’s not just the uncharacteristically lengthy post and it’s minimal relevance. It’s also the time he spent interacting with someone whom he knew (or at least felt) wasn’t contributing anything to anything. This person seems equal parts harmless and uninteresting, in fact he seems more than a bit misguided. The kind of person I would eagerly risk politely dismissing out-of-hand if he called me up with only non sequiturs.

    I mention it because I have a sneaking suspicion (now being finally revealed completely explicitly) that PZ just likes ridiculing people for the sake of it. And, I think it detracts from his public image. I think he should worry about that. I think everyone should. PZ’s public image is part of the public. He should protect it more. I’ll always excuse PZ for going after obviously troubled people like Ray Comfort (yeah, I think RC is “troubled”) because it’s a public service to do that. But I’d need a reason to excuse this, and I don’t know of one.

    Or does everyone just disagree? No one else EVER has anything negative to say about PZ here (so it seems, anyway). Maybe that’s just the nature of blogs. But it bugs me and feel a need to mention it.

  48. says

    timanthony:

    No one else EVER has anything negative to say about PZ here

    You say things like this every time you post here. Despite your continued claims that you read, it’s painfully obvious you don’t, and if you do read now, you haven’t been doing it for very long at all. Example Contained Within.

    Since it’s been a while since your last attempted stabs at PZ, the commentariat, and whatever else came to mind, you are probably unaware of the new commenting rules. Just so you know, and don’t make any unnecessary missteps in your critiques.

  49. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I mention it because I have a sneaking suspicion (now being finally revealed completely explicitly) that PZ just likes ridiculing people for the sake of it.

    Hmm…why do you think publishing the e-mail is making fun of the sender, and not the subject and intellectual body of the e-mail? I see only the latter.

  50. Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness says

    Timanthony at 69

    This person seems equal parts harmless and uninteresting, in fact he seems more than a bit misguided. The kind of person I would eagerly risk politely dismissing out-of-hand if he called me up with only non sequiturs.

    Geology isn’t PZ’s area. He therefore didn’t dismiss the caller, but first tried to re-direct him and then asked people in the know to take a look. I don’t see why dismissing such a caller out of hand is better.
    Also, uninteresting to whom? I like reading stuff like that because it reminds me that people can put in hours on ideas they have and yet miss the fact that they make no sense. The intricacy of this particular pattern is engaging, if bafflegab. It reminds me of the incredibly cross-referenced manifestos that are sometimes issued by people like Ted Kaczynski. It seems to be a pattern of thinking, all inward, that is an epic fail. Yet the publisher of such a piece believes him or herself to be clear and brilliantly logical.

  51. raven says

    timanthony concern trolling:

    I mention it because I have a sneaking suspicion (now being finally revealed completely explicitly) that PZ just likes ridiculing people for the sake of it.

    Tim Anthony = concern troll

    Concern trolling is boring and dishonest. At least PZ has something worth while and interesting to say.

    Timmy, we are very concerned about you. You seem to have trouble thinking.

    Have you recently:

    1. Suffered a traumatic head injury.

    2. Acquired a brain eating parasite.

    3. Joined a cult such as fundie Protestantism.

    4. Believe you are possessed by evil spirits while a powerful giant in the sky looks on and does nothing?

    Whatever it is, you aren’t going to be able to treat it over the internet. Try a doctor or more education.

  52. Holms says

    @raven
    So, some guy is grossly misinformed by creationist bilge, and you see this as an opportunity to bring out the brain damage / crazy jokes. That’s nice.

  53. raven says

    to bring out the brain damage / crazy jokes. That’s nice.

    1. Who is joking?

    2. BTW, Holms, you are unable to read. I referred several times to timanthony, a concern troll. The writer of the email was Rick Keane.

    I would suggest that you repeat grade school and learn to read but clearly, you would be insulted. So keep on being a near illiterate.

    3. Finally, fuck you Holms. You are just another troll.

    This is why I don’t bother with Pharyngula much any more. Most threads end up dying a troll death and it is valueless after that.

    So Holms, I expect another 100 posts, none of which are on topic. And none of which I will even see. Go to it.

  54. bunkie says

    If lightning can reanimate dead flesh, then surely it can reradiate dead rocks!

    I learned these facts in a documentary I watched on AMC recently.

  55. alwayscurious says

    how lightnings can synthesize and disintegrate (e.g. via building up free neutron density and interactions) heavy atomic weight radioactive elements

    Sample for heavy radioactive particulates, zap with lightning, measure again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sounds easy enough, he should stop talking about it & do it. He can worry about what it all means after he has some data.

    PZ, you should have sent him to the Department of Energy. I heard they have some nuclear waste that they’d like to get rid of. If all they needed to do was zap it with lightning all this time, I’m sure they’d love to know. Roll out the lightning rods at Hanford, let’s solve this nuclear waste problem!

  56. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Sample for heavy radioactive particulates, zap with lightning, measure again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sounds easy enough, he should stop talking about it & do it. He can worry about what it all means after he has some data.

    Gasp, you mean a creationist actually trying to do a scientific experiment???? Reaction.

  57. alwayscurious says

    LOL @69 timanthony. You can’t really believe that PZ hasn’t thought about the blog as a public arena and maintains his public image as he wants it?

    And if you really were here everyday you’d have witnessed the countless disagreements between posters & PZ. It just happens that the regulars mostly don’t have disagreements or don’t air them publicly (eg. they are minor or best handled in other venues).

  58. Useless says

    Of course! It looks so simple in hindsight, I’m surprised no one had noticed it before.

    P.S. Whom would you ask other than a biologist? A psychologist?

  59. chigau (カオス) says

    Nobody disagrees with PZ?
    hhahahaha
    Does someone have a link to that boy bunny/girl bunny/religion thread?
    Remember the Great Hiatus that gave birth to The Lounge and The Thunderdome?

  60. Holms says

    @raven
    1. You aren’t joking? You honestly believe that his tone police post is evidence of head trauma, delusions or even brain eating parasites.

    Transparent bullshit.

    2. True, but that doesn’t change the criticism I made. The fact that I mistakenly thought you were abusing person A instead of person B is neither here nor there when the criticism being made was that your abusiveness was shitty.

    Speaking of which, your awful attitude contines. I had the wrong person in mind, therefore ‘learn to read’, ‘near illiteracy’, ‘go back to school’ and ‘fuck you’. Are you completely unaware of the recent rules / attitude shake-up the blog just had? Yours is exactly the piosonous attitude that prompted it.

    3. That’s sad, because you are the one most in need of a change in attitude.

  61. timanthony says

    In reply to whoever is following thread from #69:

    The hitherto unspoken but kinda obvious reason I think PZ goes to far in some instances is that he appears to be picking on people who are bordering on mentally ill, or even definitely are mentally ill. I noted an exception for Ray Comfort, based on overall public benefit, but otherwise I cannot pretend it’s cool, or stay silent about it. I am pretty close to finished criticising PZ anyway. I know he reads the comments, so I guess he knows what I have written. That was my actual goal. He’s clearly entitled to disagree (and I am guessing he does) and he’s entitled to run this blog any way he sees fit – and he does. Being a thorn is his side is not my chosen career.

    The reason I suggest that “dismissing such people out of hand” is based on an idea that PZ has better things to do. That that is just my uninformed opinion is not lost on me. As uninformed opinions go, this one does seem pretty safe! I have a sneaking suspicion that PZ never sleeps.

    I hadn’t seen the new rules. Now I have, but I don’t see any relevance. Thanks for linking to them, and trying to clarify things, CFdM. Good to know I’m not transgressing them. But, did you think I was?

  62. robertschenck says

    This is crazy.
    This definitely falls into the “It’s not even wrong!” category.
    He seems to be suggesting that Pangaea exploded with lightening(s), littering the continents with radionuclides. And no one’s studying this, just like with the mid-ocean range. Which is an oven that cooks the middle of the oceans.

  63. says

    Monitor Note: You don’t get to criticize people for what they are, so don’t bother with your gendered, racist, classist, or ableist insults, but please do tear into bad ideas. Ableist slurs are harmful, do not use them.