One of my “top five” reasons for thinking that the earth is only thousands of years old comes from studying its magnetic field. As I wrote in the post I just linked, the young-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field (often called the ‘rapid-decay theory’) not only properly reproduces the magnetic fields of the planets, it actually predicted two of those magnetic fields before they were measured. When a theory can make predictions regarding unmeasured quantities and the subsequent measurements agree with the theory, there is strong evidence that the theory is true.
The young-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field not only correctly predicted the magnetic fields of two planets before they were measured, it has made other predictions that were later confirmed by measurement. As discussed in the previous post, it predicted that rocks from Mars should show that Mars at one time had a planetary magnetic field, even though it does not have one today. That was later confirmed. In addition, it predicted that Mercury’s magnetic field has decreased since it was last measured in 1975. MESSENGER, the latest spacecraft to visit Mercury, did a “quick and dirty” measurement of Mercury’s magnetic field in 2008, and the measurement confirmed this prediction, albeit with very large error bars. I eagerly await MESSENGER’S more precise measurement to see exactly how close the young-earth theory’s prediction is to the precisely-measured value.
In the meantime, some geologists have come up with even more evidence for the validity of the young-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field.
One of the expectations of the young-earth theory is that the earth’s magnetic field reversed rapidly (probably several times) during the worldwide Flood.1 During these rapid reversals, the north pole of earth’s magnetic field became the south pole, and vice-versa. The old-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field also predicts that the field has reversed in the past, but it predicts that these reversals occur over a period of several thousands of years.
Five years after the young-earth theory was published, the first evidence for rapid reversals of earth’s magnetic field was discovered.2 The authors of the study were examining lava flows, which “record” the direction of earth’s magnetic field when the lava cooled based on the orientation of magnetic crystals in the rock. The authors noted that in a particular series of lava flows, the earth’s magnetic field seemed to have reversed over a period of days, not thousands of years.
Not surprisingly, most geologists resisted this notion, since old-earth geologists tend to prefer believing in slow, gradual change. However, the same authors produced a paper six years later that provided even more evidence to support their analysis.3 Despite the new evidence, most geologists would like to ignore these data, as rapid magnetic field reversals are not consistent with the old-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field. Of course, young-earth geologists see the data as yet another confirmation of the young-earth theory of earth’s magnetic field.
Well, recently the idea of rapid magnetic field reversals has become harder to ignore, because a paper that is slated for publication in Geophysical Research Letters claims to have found another example of a rapid magnetic field reversal.4 This comes from a different lava flow entirely. According to the analysis, the change is not as rapid as is indicated by the previous studies. Instead of reversing over a period of days, this lava flow indicates a reversal took place over a period of years.
Now the young-earth theory does not predict that “slow” a reversal. Instead, it predicts that the earth’s magnetic field probably reversed several times during the world-wide Flood. Nevertheless, all three of these studies are much more in line with the predictions of the young-earth theory than the old-earth theory.
Of course, don’t expect old-earth geologists to be persuaded by these data. After all, old-earth geologists have lots of preconceptions that will most likely force them to assume there is something wrong with all three of these studies. However, those of us who are free to follow the data can accept the studies for what they appear to be: evidence in favor of the young-earth theory of planetary magnetic fields.
2. Coe, R.S. and Prevot, M., “Evidence Suggesting Extremely Rapid Field Variation During a Geomagnetic Reversal,” Earth and Planetary Science 92:292-298, 1989
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3. Coe, R.S., Prevot, M., and Camps, P., “New Evidence for Extremely Rapid Change of the Geomagnetic Field During a Reversal,” Nature 374:687-692, 1995
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4. Bogue, S. W., and J. M. G. Glen, “Very rapid geomagnetic field change recorded by the partial remagnetization of a lava flow,” Geophys. Res. Lett., in press, 2010 (Available online with subscription)
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