Reviewing RATE with Vernon R. Cupps

Quark structure of a pionIn the December edition of Acts & Facts, the ICR’s monthly newsletter, there is a profile of Vernon R. Cupps, their newest “research associate.” Cupps is a published nuclear physicist, with a PhD and everything from the Indiana University Cyclotron Facility.

He later spent time at the Los Alamos National Laboratory before taking a position as radiation physicist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where he directed and supervised a radiochemical analysis laboratory from 1988 to 2011. He is a published researcher with 73 publications, 18 of which are in referred journals.

I’m guessing that’s a typo – they mean refereed journals, i.e. peer reviewed ones. That does raise the question of what the other 55 publications were – it may just be a quirk of the field – but I’m having difficulty looking him up. Most of the papers that I can find seem to be related to pions, experiments with which are supposed to be useful for investigating the strong force. This seems to be his primary interest, and the obvious way that this would fit with the ICR’s mission is in the investigation of radioisotope dating. The article says:

Many discoveries await nuclear physicists like himself. “After over a century of directed effort, we still do not fully understand the nature of the strong and weak nuclear forces,” he said. Also, several interesting science questions still bear further investigation, such as, “Is radioisotope dating a reliable way to ascertain the age of anything?” and “Can nuclear matter really be explained through the exchange of particles?”

If his quotes here are any indication Cupps’ trademark is to bury within a list one or more entries that are not like the others. Can you guess which it is in that paragraph? What about this one:

When asked what he plans to focus on at ICR, he replied, “First, I will probably review the RATE report and attempt to answer the radioisotope dating questions which came out of that report. Second, I will look at radioisotope dating in general and the assumptions that go into the various dating methods. As an aside to this project, I will try to clarify what the scientific method is and what it is not as there seems to be a great deal of confusion even among ‘scientists’ on this. Third, I would like to investigate the feasibility of the radioactive decay constants not being constant. And finally, I would like to study more closely the nature of nuclear matter.”

There are five items in this list: Three of them are about radioisotope decay but as an “aside” Cupps wants to “clarify what the scientific method is and what it is not.” What that will entail is anyone’s guess. A long path of philosophical inquiry? A couple of articles in Acts & Facts? I feel like Cupps, who works in a field in which theories are tested via billion dollar supercolliders which produce a near-infinite amount of data, might be intending to promote the old “historical and observational science is inferior to experimental science” line which creationists like so much. If you’re reading this, Dr Cupps, I hope you realise that not all science is particle physics.

But what about him investigating “the nature of nuclear matter”? How does he intend to to that at the ICR? I don’t know, but I think the next paragraph might provide a clue:

When asked where he saw God shining the most in his study of physics, he said, “The structure of the nucleus, which constitutes most of the matter we know; i.e., how can a bunch of electrically repulsive particles like the proton be held together in such a small volume of space without blowing apart?”

The answer, according to Jack Chick’s infamous tract Big Daddy?, is Jesus. It says so in the Bible, Colossians 1:17. But according to everyone else – including, I would hope, somebody who has actually studied the strong force – is that electromagnetism, the force that pushes protons apart, isn’t the only force you need to consider (also, gluons). I’m guessing Cupps knows this, and is just saying that his subject of interest is amazing. But in that case…what is he getting at, exactly?

Moving along – actually backwards for a moment – Cupps’ focus is as I said most likely to be on radioisotope dating. One issue young Earth creationists are often hammered on is how, if there was accelerated nuclear decay during the flood, did Noah and his family survive the radiation dose? Cupps may actually be able to help tackle this question, judging from his past experience:

During his time with Fermilab, his assignments varied. “My primary job at Fermilab was to manage the operation of the Radioisotope Analysis Facility,” he said. “I also developed and helped implement the Air Monitoring Program, initiated material activation research projects, performed shielding calculations for the accelerator division, and implemented health physics and environmental monitoring projects.”

Presumably he can calculate a radiation dose as part of that.

For more information Cupps has a rarely-used twitter and an even less used blog. It will be interesting to see what he produces for the ICR.

In other news, there have been no new “Creation Science Updates” for a week. I’m thinking that today’s might simply be late, and that the previous two were missed because of being close to the end of the month/a holiday, but if it doesn’t appear at all then I really don’t know what’s up.

7 thoughts on “Reviewing RATE with Vernon R. Cupps

  1. When YECs like Cupps talk about the possibility of decay rates not being constant, they are playing with words. We know that extreme forces can alter rates –but only a TINY fraction of a percent, and only under ultra-extreme conditions that would not exist during the Flood (or on earth in general). Even more importantly, even if Cupp could find some process that would accelerate them to the extent YECs need, it would fry the earth and everything on it, as the RATE group has already acknowledged. This is why they appealed to unspecified “miracles” to salvage their position and avoid the obvious conclusion: that the earth is in fact old. Indeed, in an astounding example of cognitigve dissonance, they admitted the heat from accelerated decay is a major problem, and in the next breath claim radio dating is still consistent with a young earth. If Cupp is suggesting he can find a way to respect the massive scientific data for an old earth without resorting to ad-hoc miracles, lottsa luck. His remark about wantiing to investigate the scientific method is rich. However the scientific method is defined, one thing is certain, it’s not how ICR goes about it – invoking ad-hoc miracles whenever the evidence flies in the face of their “model.”

  2. Google defines feasibility as \”the state or degree of being easily or conveniently DONE.\”
    So when Dr Cupps says
    \”I would like to investigate the feasibility of the radioactive decay constants not being constant.\” (see above),
    I have to wonder how \”the radioactive decay constants not being constant.\” is DONE.
    That does not even work grammatically, to my thinking.

    Could he mean \”the probability of them not being constant over time\”?
    Could he mean \”the feasibility of designing/conducting experiments to prove they are not\”?
    Could he mean \”the feasibility of bamboozling prospective ICR donors into believing that they are not\”?

    I want to submit these questions to him at ICR’s page.
    But the the good folks at ICR have been rejecting all comments from me (and other secularists) ever since Halloween.
    So I invite anyone else to try submitting them and/or other comments/questions of your choice.
    Maybe you can get in with a different name and IP address, if you are more tactful than I.

    ALSO, I too am finding a dearth of web present for Dr.C and am wondering if he even has a Ph.D.
    So I am thinking about how to check that. I might call Indiana U. to see if there is a way.

    • I wish you success, but I would not hold my breath on any of it. If they won’t engage with you or others on frank discussions about major issues, I can’t imagine they’d spend 3 seconds discussing a wording ambiguity. Whatever he originally meant on about “feasibility” I’d bet anything the approach will be the last possibility you mentioned. After all, he’s in a Catch 22. Extensive evidence already indicates that decay rates cannot be altered beyond a negligible extent by any natural process on earth, and more importantly, even if they could be accelerated to the immense rates YECism needs, the heat involved would fry Noah and every other living thing on earth. So what’s left but bamboozling followers and falling back on unspecified “miracles” already proposed by the RARE authors?

    • Cupps’ Ph.D. thesis was called “The Reaction Mechanism for (deuteron, Proton) Reactions at Intermediate Energies” and was awarded in 1987. He does have a web presence – though it was surprisingly hard to find – including the blog and twitter I linked above, along with a few other things of less interest.

      I’m actually surprised that you lasted at YOM even until Halloween – I’m pretty sure that they didn’t even let in my first comment, more than a year ago!

    • I’m a persona non grata at ICR too, due to my Paluxy work, but I’d like to ask Cupp what difference it would make if he found a process, contrary to all evidence so far found, that could increase radioative decay rates even 5, 10, or 20 percent? YECism needs rates thousands of times greater, but that would cook the earth to a crisp. If he resorts to unspecified miracles as the RATE authors, why even give the pretense of following the “scientific method”? So I’m not sure what he meant by “feasibility” but his whole plan seems like an exercise in futility.

  3. >I’m actually surprised that you lasted at YOM even until Halloween
    >I’m a persona non grata at ICR too,
    Well, there are some tricks to it + some lucky timing. I have some very very close friends (wink nudge) that help me. DaveMc had many lengthy exchanges at throughout september along with several frequenters of When another ‘friend’, PhiLL-F, joined in on sep.28, Lisle got pissy with us and turned on his WordPress passwords to lock his conversation pages ( see or click on my name tag.)

    That’s when I turned to The ‘three of us’ did quite a bit of chatting there; but we all got locked out by november, after giving fundies the last word. I am really happy with the satire I posted on the BUTTERFLY EVOLUTION page, but they rejected my response to Q.T.

    Surprisingly, last week my ‘other friend’ Gene Linx/Lynx/Links managed to open the conversations on MISSING-IN-ACTION on their That’s-A-Fact page and was permitted to make a reply; so maybe there is a different referee on that page, or maybe they think that few visiters go to there.

    So I feel ‘we’ have shut down and am reducing to a boring self-listening choir loft. Later this morning, Gene will try to post on the DINOSAURS AND HUMANS video. Will let y’all know

    Keep the rationality, Jerry17 et al

    PS if you go to be sure to check out the “Holy Smoke Filled” Backroom Chat

  4. Update: Hey, surprisingly Gene Lynx/Links got his comment posted at . I wonder if that was because ‘he’ submitted it from ‘his’ iPad with cellular data while roving (to avoid IP address ID) or because the referee didn’t recognize the satire — maybe both. I am pretty sure Evaristo Ybarra will not see the satire, but the important hope is that open minded moderate readers will.
    ( Gene also commented on the DINOSAURS AND HUMANS video.)

    ALSO , THANKS, eyeonicr(¿ Peter) for the info on Cupps’s thesis(dissertation) ; that saves me time researching it. And for THANKS this great website! Jerry17


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