In 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.
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.