Friday, May 7, 2010

Moon Dust and Creationist Fraud

This post is in response to one from a creationist claiming that he gave up a belief in evolution because of "fraud". **IF** fraud is important then you can't become a creationist. This post documents a case of undeniable fraud by the creationist -Henry Morris - with the undeniable and express intent of promoting creationism. It is quite extensive.

Prior to the middle of the 20th century there appears that no one ever wondered how much dust is going through space. At least no one tried to measure it. Finally, in 1959, a scientist named Hans Pettersson decided to try to find out how much dust actually was present in space and, by extrapolation, how much was landing on Earth. In order to do so, he went to the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. He ran some of the local atmosphere through a filter designed to measure air pollution. He then measured the dust in the filter. He did some calculations and concluded that at the very most, 15 million tons of dust was arriving yearly from outer space. He chose Hawaii as the location for collecting such dust because it was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and, particularly 50 years ago, was far away from much industrial pollution. Nonetheless Petterson really had no way of gauging how much of the debris was terrestrial in origin and admitted as much. However he guessed that about 2/3 was generated from the Earth itself so that speculation led him to claim that 5 million tons was a more likely figure for the stellar component of the debris. He wrote an article about his research which was published in the February, 1960, issue of Scientific American .

This sounds like a great deal of debris - and it is – but it works out to be only about a shoebox full of debris per acre per year on the Earth. This is negligible when compared to the amount of erosion that occurs on the Earth. However, there is no such erosion on the Moon. If you assume that dust is landing on the Moon at a similar rate, and adjust for the Moon's smaller size and gravitational pull, you have to conclude that there should be a very large dust layer (about a hundred feet thick) if the Moon is several billion years old.

In 1974, five years after Neil Armstrong walked in the Moon, Henry Morris the founder of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), in his book "Scientific Creationism" started the Moon Dust argument. On pages 151-152 in that book, he says:

"The best measurements have been made by Hans Pettersson, who obtained the figure of 14 million tons per year."

Morris also added parenthetically:

"(Before the moon landings, there was considerable fear that the men would sink into the dust when they arrived on the moon, but no comment has apparently ever been made by the authorities as to why it wasn't there as anticipated)."

This would seem to be a compelling argument in favor of a young Moon and, therefore, presumably a young solar system. But let's look a bit deeper.

The year that Dr. Pettersson's article was published (1960) was also the year of President Kennedy's promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. NASA got a lot of money, and started up a lot of committees. One of the committees pointed out that they really should make a measurement *IN SPACE* of the amount of space dust. After all, if there's 100 feet of dust on the Moon, then the Lunar Lander will have to look considerably different than if there is only an inch or two.

Such measurements were performed using satellites *IN SPACE*. McCracken and Dublin announced (at the 1963 Lunar Surface Layer conference) that the earth gets a piddling 18,000 to 25,000 tons per year. (That's roughly 1/1000 of the amount that Pettersson speculated came from space.)

Therefore, years before man actually landed on the moon scientists knew that a 4.5 billion year old moon would have 100 feet / 1000 or about 0.1 feet – roughly an inch – of dust on the moon.

At the 1965 conference, the photographs taken by the Ranger probe were shown, and it was agreed that the moon didn't look dusty. In May 1966, Surveyor I LANDED ON THE MOON and the issue was settled.

So years before man landed on the moon, there were photos taken from the moon’s surface showing that there was just an inch or two of dust on that surface.

The engineers designing the Lunar Lander were told to give it short legs. A landing spot was chosen in the rocky uplands, partly in case lowlands and valleys had pools of dust.

The issue of how much interstellar dust there is affects more than just how old the moon is and what a lunar landing station should look like. NASA and the USSR continued to do research in this area as they have a vested interest in knowing the actual value. It is, after all, relevant to the health of satellites and space stations. The more space debris that there is, the more robust (and expensive) that the satellites have to be. To that end, there have been theoretical calculations. There have been measurements done by shining lasers into space. There have been measurements based on the chemistry of deep-sea sediments. And NASA put up a satellite, the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) to measure space debris. It went up in 1984. All of these independent tests show the rate to be on the order of tens of *thousands* of tons per year, rather than tens of *millions* of tons as Pettersson hypothesized. Therefore instead of a
hundred feet of lunar dust, we should see about 1/1000 of that amount: about 1/10 of a foot, or a little over an inch. Th9se measurements are consistent with each other and consistent with a 4.5 billion year old moon. The only measurement that is inconsistent is that done by Dr. Petterson.

An inch or so of dust, of course, is EXACTLY what the astronauts did see.

Two points are worth emphasizing.

First, the amount of dust on the Moon is consistent with a multi-billion year old solar system. If the solar system is just a few thousand years old, then the extra dust must have been planted there by God! Since the amount of moon dust surely can have no affect whatsoever on anything on Earth, living or otherwise, what possible reason would God have to plant that extra dust on the Moon? It seems to be incomprehensible unless God is deceptive and trying to make the Moon look as though it is billions of years old. Moreover a somewhat higher dust level in the past before measurements were made is not a valid argument when trying to reconcile the amount of dust. The amount of dust on the Moon is about a million times higher than what it would be if the Moon was just a few thousand years old. That is six orders of magnitude higher. Moreover it begs the question: why would God need to have so much dust around as He created the universe? Is God not powerful enough to create the Moon without using precisely the amount of dust needed to make it appear to be billions of years old? This is explicable only if God is either deceptive or incompetent or both.

The second key point - and the purpose of this post – is that this example shows outright fraud on the part of creationists! It especially demonstrates fraud from that creationist icon Dr. Henry Morris.

Morris' book that described his moon dust argument was published in 1974, well after measurements were made in space showed the lower values for space debris. Yet Morris calls Hans Pettersson's readings the "best measurements" available, which is surely a FRAUDULENT statement since Petterson himself admitted that he used equipment not designed to measure space dust and also admitted that he had guessed at the percentage of dust that came from space.

Also Morris gives a figure of 15 million tons per year. But even Pettersson said that figure was too high. He was confident that that a majority of the dust he measured came from Earth itself. So that is a fraudulent comment as well.

Morris also talks about the "considerable fear" of the astronauts sinking into the space dust. But his book was published eight years after Surveyor I had actually explored the surface of the moon and taken pictures of the amount of dust! Regardless of any debate as to the age of the Earth or the Moon or the amount of interstellar dust raining down on the Moon, surely there was no basis for any such fear. That statement is at best incredibly ignorant, and at worst is an obvious LIE.

But, of course, the average person in the street has no idea whatsoever how much space dust is landing on the Moon. In fact, our intuition tells us that there should be many feet of dust on the moon. We look at the amount of dust that gathers on our bookshelves in just a few weeks and extrapolate that over many, many years you would expect to see many feet of dust. Of course our intuition fails us here because the dust in our homes does not come from space. But because of these factors this is exactly the sort of argument that will convince someone who WANTS to believe in a Young Earth and moon. You simply have to tell lies and creationists will believe it...

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