Terrible Mistake about Diamond Dates

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Posted on December 26, 2013 in Dating Methods, Geology, Philosophy of Science, Physics

Geologists fess up to wrong conclusion about the “world’s oldest diamonds.”

It’s just grit from polishing paste.  Read about it on Live Science.  The “terrible mistake” came to light five years after the claim was made in the world’s leading science journal.

In 2007, an international team first reported discovering the tiny gems, which hid in pockets inside zircon crystals from Western Australia’s Jack Hills, in the journal Nature. But it turns out that the gems weren’t actually diamonds, but polishing paste, smushed into hairs’-width cracks when the zircons were prepared for laboratory tests, according to a study published online in the Feb. 1, 2014, edition of the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Some very important claims had been based on the mistake:

The presence of diamonds meant the young Earth was cool enough to make relatively thick continental crust. Many modelers have suggested that Earth was covered by a roiling lava sea for its first 500 million years — an era called the Hadean, for its hellishly hot temperatures. But diamond means that the surface was cold enough to crystallize miles-thick chunks of rock, under which diamonds form. The findings also supported the idea that plate tectonics was in motion, with plates of crust skidding about and colliding, creating the pressures that form diamonds.

Some found the story “extraordinarily difficult to buy.”  Even more embarrassing, though, was that Nature had rejected a paper that tried to offer alternative evidence for the origin of the diamonds.  “Nature declined to comment on the rejection,” the article said.  See also the press release from UC Riverside.  The paper is to be published in the Feb. 2014 issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

What other sloppy science is being used to prop up magnificent claims about what we know of the early earth or universe?  It might take years, or decades, to find the errors – especially when favored worldviews are riding on the claims.  See also 11/14/2013, “What Do Geologists Know About the Early Earth?” and 3/25/13, “The Trouble with Zircons.”

Critics might say, “Scientists made the mistake, but scientists also found the mistake.  Science is a self-correcting process.”  That may be true in some cases, but how much damage can be done before a mistake is found?  This mistake was found within 7 years, but Darwinism is a mistake that has been going on for 154 years in spite of repeated reporting of its errors.

Young’s Law states that all great discoveries are made by mistake.  A corollary is that the greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.  We might modify this insight to propose that the greater the worldview implications, the longer it takes to find the mistakes in so-called great discoveries that are, in fact, mistaken.

 

 

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One Comment

wspires45 December 26, 2013

As Youngs Law that all great discoveries are made by mistake, at times great discoveries ARE mistakes. Such is the case with Darwins 154 year old discovery. If medicine had advanced with the same progress, we may still be bleeding seriously patients.

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