Chapter 3: The Genesis Rocks
By late 1965 my investigations of polonium halos had yielded some results that could be submitted for
publication. It seemed prudent, however, to begin with another phase of my research which concerned some
puzzling, abnormally large halos. I submitted a report to Applied Physics Letters, a journal known for
rapid publication of new and interesting results in physics. It successfully passed peer review (the screening process
used to decide the suitability for publication), and was published early in 1966 (see Gentry 1966a in the
Misfits in the Evolutionary Mosaic
Soon afterward I submitted my experimental results on polonium halos for publication to the same journal.
Near the end of the manuscript I included the following suggestion about the origin of polonium halos:
. . . It is difficult to reconcile these results with current cosmological theories which envision long time periods
between nucleosynthesis and [the earth's] crustal formation. It is suggested these [polonium] halos are more
nearly in accord with a cosmological model which would envision an instantaneous fiat creation of the earth.
I had been naive enough to think that something this straightforward might pass peer review. It didn't. The
editor sent the referee's comments, quoted below in their entirety, to me. The "x x x x"s were substituted by the
editor in lieu of certain remarks made by this referee.
The author appears to be a perfectly competent technician who does not understand or employ the scientific
method. He has observed certain [p. 39] phenomena (halos with anomalous radii) and has considered certain
explanations and rejected them. To illustrate his logic, I quote from the next-to-last paragraph of his cover
letter, " . . . many of these variant halos cannot be accounted for on the basis of a hydrothermal
mode of formation . . . and hence they do represent extinct natural radioactivity from the
cosmological standpoint." Failing to think of any other possible explanations, he concludes that the earth was
formed by instantaneous fiat. In one blow he implicitly rejects all the carefully accumulated evidence of
decades which is in complete conflict with his remarkable conclusion.
He is undoubtedly well aware of the findings of the modern science of geochronology. The scientific
approach would be to use all these results to his advantage and try to find a compatible explanation. Without
going into a long harangue about "pseudoscience," let me simply say that x x x x, and I regard the reasoning
displayed in this manuscript in its present form as unworthy of publication. The experimental observations,
minus any wild speculation, might be appropriately reported in a journal such as Nature.
Uncomplimentary comments aside, there was one positive note. The reviewer did concede that my
investigations might merit publication in the well-respected British scientific journal Nature, if the "wild
speculation," i.e., the implications for creation, were omitted from the manuscript. This experience taught me a
valuable lesson: I was going to have to be more cautious about expressing the implications of the polonium halos if
my results were to be published.
A New Affiliation and Better Research Opportunities
Clearly my manuscript would have to be revised before sending it to Nature. Possibly more
experimental work needed to be done. In the meantime I decided to present my results on polonium halos at the
1966 annual spring meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, DC. This was a national meeting
attended by thousands of earth scientists. Only a small number heard my presentation; nevertheless this occasion
served to bring my results before the scientific community in a limited way. Perhaps more importantly, at that time
at least, this presentation became known to the science faculty at Columbia Union College in nearby Takoma Park,
Maryland. They expressed interest in my affiliating with Columbia Union College to continue my research. This
new affiliation was effective in July 1966. It was a most welcome change. Acquisition of a quality research
microscope and freedom to use the standard laboratory facilities available there made it [p. 40] considerably easier
to pursue my investigations. The supportive attitude of all the science faculty, especially Dr. Don Jones, was a
source of great encouragement.
Additional experimental results were soon obtained. These were incorporated into a revised manuscript and
sent to Nature. By leaving out any direct reference to implications for creation, this manuscript
successfully passed peer review and was published in early 1967 (Gentry 1967). Using the same strategy I
submitted another manuscript on halos to Earth and Planetary Science Letters, an international earth
science journal published in Amsterdam; this manuscript was also accepted and subsequently appeared in this
journal late in 1966 (Gentry 1966b).
Although research on halos occupied most of my time, my general interest in the age of the earth had led me to
preliminary investigations of carbon-14 fossil dating. In fact, as early as 1965 my attention was attracted to a report
in Nature concerning the possible carbon-14 build-up in the atmosphere resulting from the 1908 Tunguska
meteor explosion in Russia. My investigations of this topic were summarized in a manuscript I submitted for
publication to Nature. The manuscript successfully passed peer review and was published in September of
1966 (Gentry 1966c).