Russell Humphreys boast!??
- I spoke to a fellow yesterday who was talking up Russell Humprheys and
some great thing he did for the cause of "young-earth, creation-science"
and gravity and planets and such.
Way over my head. About the only thing I could do is express my
skepticism in the context of our broader conversaion.
I was browsing a bit to see if I could find what he was talking about.
What he was talking about is summarized in the following link and
An Interview with Dr. D. Russell Humphreys
RH = Russ Humphreys
DS = Doug Sharp
RG = Rich Geer
RH: So were doing this experimentally, and just to get this
experimental result, and we have a prediction that's made by the
creationist model and we have a prediction by the evolutionist model.
Some of the results are already coming in and they're much, much closer
to the creation model than the evolutionist.
DS: You seem to have a history of doing this.
RH: Yes, I've gone out on a limb now about a half-dozen times and so
far the limb hasn't been sawn off under me.
RG: Why don't you talk about some of those things, maybe we can sort
of bridge into your cosmology.
DS: Your idea of magnetic fields was one.
RG: Talk a little bit about that. That is very fascinating to me.
You first wrote something about this back in 1983?
RH: Yes. Back in 1983 I published a paper in the Creation Research
Society Quarterly I think it was the December issue of that year, "The
Creation of the Earth's Magnetic Field." My jumping off point was a
verse in 2 Pet. 3, where it says that the earth was formed out of water
and by means of water. And that said to me that since the earth is
not water now, God must have transformed the water into all the other
stuff we see around us: iron, silicon, but I thought of a way that He
could make the earth's magnetic field while it was still water. If He
had lined up all the protons you know the two hydrogen atoms, the two
nuclei that are protons; if He created the water with the two protons
all pointing in the same direction and all the water molecules, all its
protons, all pointing in the same direction, then you would get a
magnetic field which is just about the right amount you needed if the
earth is 6,000 years old, and some decay has taken place. So that
struck me as kind of interesting. If you're God and you're going to
make a magnetic field, here's a real easy way to do it. When you
create the water molecules, create the protons all pointing in the same
RG: Real easy for God, not for us to do.
RH: Yes, sort of thinking God's thoughts after Him.
DS: Then there's the decay of the magnetic field that could get out
of alignment, so you actually have that as a measurable rate.
RH: Right, the earth's magnetic field is decaying at a certain rate
right now, it would take about 1400 years to decay down to half its
present strength, and we know from archaeomagnetic data that it has been
decaying at that rate for about 1000 years.
RG: Wow, I didn't know that.
DS: So what was the position; the "going out on the limb" prediction
that you made in this paper?
RH: Getting back to the origins of the field, I thought if the
earth's field had this neat explanation, it fit the data pretty
nicely. Well, maybe God made the fields of all the other planets and
parts of our solar system the same way. So I just said, well, I'll
apply the same theory to the Sun, Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn,
Uranus, and Neptune. And what would the fields be there? At that
time space probes had measured some of those fields but not all of them,
so for the ones the space probes had measured it fit the theory very
nicely. So when I published that in December, 1984, for the Creation
Research Society Quarterly, for the two planets that had not been
measured, Uranus and Neptune, I made a prediction that if the theory's
any good then the strength of the [magnetic] field for those two planets
should be such and such. My prediction for the planet Uranus
was about 100,000 times larger than what evolutionary predictions
were. This is a good test. Lets see where the chips fall. Then
Voyager 2, I think it was, went by the planet Uranus in 1986 and it was
right smack in the middle of the range of my predictions.
RG: That's amazing.
RH: I broadened the range a little bit because we didn't know too
much about the core of that planet. So then it went by Neptune during
1989 and again right in the middle of the range for that planet.
RG: How have the evolutionary scientists, the NASA scientists, that
went for the other predictions, how have they been able to modify their
opinions to fit that data?
RH: Well, they modified their opinions a little bit, when Uranus came
out so badly wrong, they said that Neptune is sort of a sister planet to
Uranus, so we'll modify our prediction for Neptune so its going to be
also a strong field.
RG: That doesn't help for the Uranus prediction in the first place.
RH: No it didn't. It was sort of a hand waving theory they had in
the first place so it wasn't very quantitative.
DS: Now does this also hold true for the moons of Jupiter?
RH: Yes, the moons of Jupiter came out very nicely, I didn't even
think of including them in the paper but just apply the same formulas
that are in the paper and they fit the moons of Jupiter that were
measured much more recently, by another space probe, Galileo. It fits
those moons pretty nicely too. So, I'm happy about that.
RG: You're batting a 1,000 here it looks like.
RH: That one I didn't actually make a prediction, but there's no
difference from [what] the prediction [would have been from the model].
If anybody can provide some specific response and/or analysis of what
that might have to do with the YECS cause, I would appreciate it.
- I found some discussion of Humphreys' theories and claims on
TalkOrigins. Following is the link and excerpt:
On Creation Science and the Alleged Decay
of the Earth's Magnetic Field
by Tim Thompson
(I)t is my position that Humphreys' theory cannot be confirmed, since it
predicts at once every possible observed field, and is therefore useless
for predicting anything.
Humphreys decided that the evidence in support of the hypothesis that
the Earth's magnetic field has reversed its polarity a number of times
is too convincing, and that such reversals must have occurred. In doing
so, Humphreys also rejects Barnes' idea that the Earth's field has been
decaying exponentially ever since creation, and has instead postulated a
more complex history for the magnetic field, built around the
presumption that the field reversals happened very rapidly, taking
perhaps no more than a few days to a few weeks [23, 24].
Humphreys had already postulated this idea, when he found support from a
paper by Coe & Prevot in 1989 , which showed evidence of a rapid
change in the angle of the dipole moment of the Earth's magnetic field
during the cooling time of a lava flow. Coe & Prevot have expanded on
the observations and theory since then [26, 27a] (and so has Humphreys
), and the effect certainly appears to be real, or at least
Humphreys has interpreted these results as an implication that all field
reversals are very rapid, and this allows him to concentrate all of them
into the single year of the Genesis Flood.
However, one must remember that the results reported by Coe & Prevot
include only a few out of hundreds or thousands of examples of field
reversal measurements. The vast majority of the known examples would
have required the entire reversal to take place while the lava flows
were still hotter than the Curie temperature, or worse yet, argue
against rapid reversal by recording what appear to be the intermediate
stages of a single reversal event.
Finally, others have shown that the evident rapid reversals described by
Coe & Prevot may be explained by processes not related directly to those
in the Earth's core [27b], but rather by magnetic storm effects that may
become significant at the surface of the Earth during a reversal, when
the dipole field is relatively weak.
Humphreys outlined his postulated history for the Earth's magnetic field
in [23, 24, 29a]. He has a created magnetic dipole decaying
exponentially until the time of the flood. Atthe onset of the flood, the
dipole moment plummets rapidly, and thenoscillates very rapidly (the
rapid reversals) during the year of the flood. He then shows a series of
fluctuations from about 4000 to 1500 years before the present, after
which the field has been steadilydecaying.
This invented scenario depends heavily on the idea that all of the field
reversals happened very rapidly, and all during the year of the flood.
This can be seen in the online version of Impact #242 [29a], an ICR
There can be little doubt that Humphreys still holds to this idea quite
firmly. He was asked about this by Carl Wieland, in an interview
published by Creation Magazine in 1993 .
Humphreys reiterated his confidence in what he called his successful
prediction of magnetic field strengths from the Voyager observations,
and spoke as if his notion that all field reversals happened within a
few days was essentially a proven fact. This interview is available
online via the creation magazine website. I have not seen any creation
science writings on the Earth's magnetic field since then, and I presume
that the theory of Humphreys is the one that is now ascending in the
creation science community.
Subjective Observations and Closing Remarks
I certainly do not accept the ideas put forth by Barnes and Humphreys,
concerning the physics and history of the Earth's magnetic field.
However I do not believe that I have treated either with any undue
Barnes, despite his considerable background in physics, did a horrible
job, committing numerous blatant and trivial errors along the way.
Humphreys never takes Barnes to task, and goes out of his way to avoid
criticizing him at all.
While Humphreys does a much better job with his physics than did Barnes,
Humphreys is not out of the intellectual woods either.
He has a strong tendency to over-interpret results, and to
over-emphasize the degree to which his theories are predictive in
nature, or to which they are congruent with reality.
His mix of divine intervention and physics is quite natural for a
creationist, but not at all acceptable to the non-creationist. Moreover,
it is not consistent with an unbiased scientific investigation, in that
it presumes what the result will be before the experiment is done.
I still don't grasp all the technical details, but the above (and the
full article) may explain why Humphreys' claim is not what it appears to
be or what its promoters think it is.
- --- In Maury_and_Baty, Robert Baty wrote (post #7022):
> I spoke to a fellow yesterday who was talking up Russell[snip]
> Humphreys and some great thing he did for the cause of
> "young-earth, creation-science" and gravity and planets and
"Is the Earth's Magnetic Field Young?"
by Joe Meert
| Humphreys has argued in the creationist literature that the
| Earth's magnetic field is in terminal decay and that its
| maximum age can be no more than 10,000 years. As shown
| above, his conclusions are based on undocumented reversals
| in the archeomagnetic record, a mistaken conclusion
| regarding the time it takes for the magnetic field to
| reverse and an extrapolation based on the last 30 years of
| magnetic observation. Furthermore, Humphreys argues that
| the magnetic field of the earth at creation was much higher
| than the present-day value. This conjecture is totally at
| odds with observational data and thus is mere speculation.
| Humphreys does accept reversals, and if they all happened
| in the year of the flood, then they would occur roughly at
| the rate of 1 per day. There is no observational evidence
| to support this frequency of reversals. However, if
| Humphreys is correct that all the reversal occurred in the
| year of the flood, then the strata corresponding to the
| flood must extend from the Archean to the most recent
| sedimentation since reversals are well-documented in that
| interval. Humphreys refuses to publish his work in
| mainstream literature or to present his ideas to mainstream
| science via annual conferences.
Of course, we all know that the reason Humphreys runs away from
professional geophysicists and geologists is because he already
realizes that his ideas cannot stand the light of day among
professionals in the relevant areas of science.