2012 in Review: Astronomy

An artist's impression of a planet orbiting a red dwarfAfter a hiatus to allow the showcasing of the January Acts & Facts (which I’m sure you’re all royally tired of by now), the ICR has returned to their 2012 retrospective series. The new article is called The Best Creation Science Updates of 2012: Space Sciences. I predict that the third and final of these articles will be posted on Friday, will be about the “life sciences,” and will include reference to the ENCODE project.

But back to here and now: Brian opens contending that,

This year brought its share of discoveries that confirm biblical creation’s contention that God made the heavens supernaturally and recently.

But before he gets to explaining these discoveries he cannot resist taking a swipe at Lawrence Krauss. Continue reading

Crustal Prediction

Part of the surface of Mercury, as imaged by MESSENGER

The earlier post for the 27th has been removed. In its place is another astronomy article, Mercury’s Magnetic Crust Fulfills Creation Prediction:

The planet Mercury provides many clues to its unique and recent creation. For example, Mercury’s density and composition don’t match planetary evolution models, and its surface geology and magnetic field are too active for it to be billions of years old. New data from the MESSENGER—the spacecraft that has been probing the dense planet’s surface since 2004—confirms another creation-based prediction made in 1984.

Yes, we return once again to MESSENGER – and for perhaps the first time Thomas has remembered to give the craft its proper capitalisation. Brian has three ‘citations for his second sentence, all to articles written by him about MESSENGER findings in the second half of last year. They are:

Messenger Spacecraft Confirms: Mercury Is Unique. This article points out a number of features of Mercury, including high levels of sulphur, that are unexplained (or at least were at the time). As I said then, just because we don’t know how they came to be does not justify jumping to creationism.

Mercury’s Fading Magnetic Field Fits Creation Model. I originally concluded that, given the numbers quoted, the field of Mercury was apparently fading far too fast for the ‘creation model’ – it would require moving the creation date even closer to the now, and would be biblically impossible. However, with the help of Stuart Robbins and a copy of the paper itself, I discovered that it could not even be concluded that the field was fading. What actually happened was that far more detailed results from MESSENGER compared with that from Mariner 10 (which merely made a flyby) caused a significant reduction in estimates of the strength of Mercury’s magnetic field. This is not the same as saying that the field was noticeably stronger in the 1970’s than it is today.

Mercury’s Surface Looks Young. The presence of ‘volatiles’ were claimed by Thomas to show that Mercury is young, though in reality they probably just demonstrate that a small part of the surface is (geologically) recent.

So that’s all he’s got there. Continue reading

Mercury III

The journal Science apparently ran a whole series on Mercury and the data sent back from the MESSENGER spacecraft. A few days ago I posted MESSENGER Is Back, on the subject of a DpSU arguing on the basis of one of those papers that “Mercury’s Surface Looks young.” MESSENGER and Mercury have turned up once before during the short time this blog has been running, so that made that post effectively Mercury II, and this III.

Wednesday’s DpSU is based on the very next paper in Science, and is called Mercury’s Fading Magnetic Field Fits Creation Model. Surprisingly, they do actually have a model – it’s just rather questionable that it fits the data.

Combined image of Mercury

Continue reading

MESSENGER Is Back

Due perhaps to the fact that the spacecraft MESSENGER – which Mr Thomas refuses to capitalise – is currently orbiting the planet, something that has never happened before, the folk at the, ah,  Icr, are very keen on Mercury. They – mostly the ICR’s “science writer,” Brian Thomas – seem to believe that the MESSENGER data shows that Mercury is not billions of years old, and is in fact merely thousands as the bible tells them. I last posted on this subject in Creationist Misinformation: Mercury, so this post is effectively Mercury II.

Images of features on Mars analogous to the 'hollows' found, from the Supporting Online Material (linked) Continue reading

Creationist Misinformation: Mercury

Mercury Magnetic FieldIn this Daily (pseudo)Science Update from the Institute for Creation Research’s Brian Thomas returns to the field of Astronomy with a post entitled Messenger Spacecraft Confirms: Mercury Is Unique.
Basically, as usual, we have a short laundry-list of things that are currently unknown, but in all reality probably will be within a few years. They are presented as things that cannot be explained, except by God. But this introduction works for anything I’ve talked about since I started this blog. What are the specific claims?

First, they say that “Mercury can’t be anywhere near as dense as it actually is”, which they support with a reference to another creationists website, which doesn’t back up the claim itself. Presumably, they are commenting on the current inability of models to predict the arrangement and features of the planets. Creationism, on the other hand, predicts and explains nothing.

Second, he mentions that the planet has a higher level of sulphur than is considered possible if it formed as close to the sun as it is now. Why exactly it couldn’t have spiralled inwards over time I don’t know…

And then we get to the magnetosphere. Mr Thomas begins:

[F]or many years the “dynamo theory” (which has since been shown to be false) was the only explanation offered for magnetic fields on rocky planets that are supposed to be billions of years old.

Whoa! Citation bloody needed! The dynamo effect works (unless you’re saying that god does it directly, like people used to think with lightening). Have they ever heard of radioactivity? Maybe the planet’s density is a result of having lots of uranium, or something. The heat generated from that would probably be sufficient.

The final problem they have is the magnetic field of Mercury. Basically, it’s stronger on one end than the other. He asks: “What natural process would cause that?”

The reuters article he cites gives one possible explanation – “one theory is that the planet’s magnetic field is in the processing of flipping.” Another article says that it “suggests that Mercury’s south polar region is much more exposed than the north to bombardment by charged particles from the sun.” Just because something is unexplained doesn’t mean that it is unexplainable. And hey, that means we have not one but two explanations! Isn’t that even better? 😀

He finishes:

According to Space.com, “Scientists don’t fully understand the import of many of Messenger’s early findings.”3 In light of what are best explained as Mercury’s purposeful peculiarities, and of its young-looking magnetic field, this statement might be better rendered as: “Evolutionary scientists don’t understand why Messenger’s early findings show that Mercury looks both young and uniquely created.”

No. You can’t just say that when something is not explained, God must’ve done it. There is no evidence in that that points to the planet being young, over any other explanation. Science does not default to Creationism, in the same way that it didn’t default to Geocentricism, when all the stuff about Mercury’s orbit was being puzzled over a hundred years ago. That was solved by Einstein, but that doesn’t mean that Newtonian gravity doesn’t work. Even if we needed such a big ‘paradigm shift’ to explain this now, it would still involve the universe being much older than 6000 years.