email - January 2014

Paleomagnetism Reaction

Here is the reaction to last month’s Paleomagnetism Busted! article and video.

Charles wrote to tell us that he started a conversation about our Paleomagnetism Busted! video on the Origins Talk Yahoo Group. at 9:46 AM on December 17.

Your paleomagnetism busted video has shaken the evolutionists out of their tree.

Twenty-two messages so far.

When I first began posting on Origins Talk several years ago, it was impossible to get an evolutionist to click on a link that I presented ---- unless it was from an academia friendly site.  Now, they click on the links and now they pay attention.

Thank you again for making your video.  I hope that there will be more.

We don’t usually waste our time reading what is said in discussion groups because it is an exercise in futility, as you will soon see. The first response is typical.

Dec 18 6:41 AM

Does anyone actually use the residual magnetism of rocks . . . to determine the age of geologic formations , or is this just anther [sic] strawman [sic]? Please provide details.

First, drlindberg21 (DRL) clearly thinks that measuring the magnetism of rocks to determine when they were formed is such a ridiculous idea that we must have invented it as a straw man just to make evolutionists look foolish. At least he recognizes the absurdity of paleomagnetism, so we have to give him that.

Second, DRL didn’t bother to do any research. The video shows screen shots of the science workbook pages we quoted, with the link to the workbook itself. He could have answered the question himself by simply checking out the link. Or, he could have at least gone to Wikipedia.

Third, he assumes we would stoop to the level of evolutionists by creating a straw man. (The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a straw man to be “a weak or imaginary argument or opponent that is set up to be easily defeated.” Evolutionist Björn does use the straw man trick in a later post—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)

We can’t help wondering if DRL had heard about paleomagnetism first from a science teacher, or Wikipedia, would he have accepted it without question, as ridiculous as he recognizes it to be?

Björn responded with this:

First, in this last post you didn't answer DRL's question about "the residual magnetism of rocks . . . to determine the age of geologic formations". As far as I know, the answer is "no", since the permanent magnetism in a mineral isn't "wearing off" (decreasing) exponentially in the way of a radioactive isotope so we may use it for dating. Your link to does not support your claim as far as I can see (so why did you include it? -- did you even read it?) but it contains some descriptions of how magnetism is induced in materials.

Notice that Björn (intentionally or unintentionally) misstated Charles’ argument. Neither we nor Charles even remotely suggested that magnetic decay is used to determine age the way radioactive decay is used. Magnetism doesn’t have a half-life that can be used to determine how long it has been since something was magnetized. Björn is attempting to make Charles look foolish by claiming that Charles believes things that aren’t true.

According to the manufacturer of the magnets used in our experiment:

25. Will my neodymium magnets lose strength over time?
Very little. Neodymium magnets are the strongest and most permanent magnets known to man. If they are not overheated or physically damaged, neodymium magnets will lose less than 1% of their strength over 10 years - not enough for you to notice unless you have very sensitive measuring equipment. They won't even lose their strength if they are held in repelling or attracting positions with other magnets over long periods of time. 1

Magnets do lose strength over time—but that has nothing to do with how paleomagnetism is (erroneously) used to determine the age of a rock formation.

Björn (intentionally or unintentionally) missed the point of Charles link to Wikipedia. DRL asked if paleomagnetism was used to date geologic formations, and Charles’ response was, essentially, “Yes. Here’s the Wikipedia reference that says they do.”

Björn said paleomagnetism isn’t used, despite the fact that he referenced the Wikipedia article saying that it is used. Didn’t Björn read the article?

In another post, Björn says,

Charles, (re-)read my post # 33671. If you believe that tiny mm-sized magnets on a paper like those in the video will behave in the same way as magnetic chunks of ca. 10x20 km2 or more with millions of magnetized particles in them, supposedly coming up from earth's interior (!??), you are naïve beyond rescue. Please use your brain.

Björn (intentionally or unintentionally) misrepresented our experiment. We never claimed that the magnets act like huge chunks of rock popping up off the seafloor, rotating 180 degrees, and then settling back down on the seafloor. Our point was that the millions of tiny magnetized particles in heated rocks would be aligned by the strongest magnetic field, and would remain in that orientation when the rock cooled. Furthermore, the magnetic field of the adjacent magnetically polarized rock would be stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field.

Once, I stuck a magnetic compass to the windshield of my truck; but instead of pointing North, it always pointed to the truck’s alternator, making it useless. The magnet in the alternator was closer than the North Pole, so its magnetic field was stronger. The compass always pointed to the alternator regardless of which way the truck was headed.

Björn was partially right about one thing.

(It should be said that the correct order is: Scientists have dated many rocks by scientific methods and then found that the magnetism pointed South at certain times in earth's history, and North at other times. So a chart involving many evident poleshifts [sic] has been constructed. If the bizarre idea of enormous chunks of rocks aligning spontaneously is untenable, then what evidence is left against poleshifts [sic]?) None.

Scientists have INCORRECTLY dated rocks, and have constructed charts claiming the Earth’s magnetic field reversed in the past based on those incorrect dates and a false assumption. The only reason for believing that the poles have shifted (that is, reversed polarity) is the acceptance of those erroneous charts.

David Williams chimed in with,

What are the odds that Charles Palm of Idaho, is more competent in science, than all the many thousands of working scientist [sic] ?. [sic] Perhaps he is the world's greatest scientist. Someone should nominate him for a Nobel prize in recognition of his brilliant work.

It is a typical ad hominem attack. David can’t argue with Charles’ logic, so he criticizes him for not (yet) having won the Nobel prize. (And, he uses incorrect grammar and incorrect punctuation to do it! )

Excellent Questions

Harley wrote directly to us with some excellent questions.

The way I understood the theory was that the magma solidified/crystallized in alignment with the earth’s magnetic field, and only applied to igneous rock. I wasn’t aware sedimentary rock was part of the theory.

After reading about your experiment though, my thought was, slower falling (magnetic) sediment would possibly have time to align itself, don’t you think?

Do you think it would change the results if you did the same experiment under water, by dropping the magnets in a tank with the bottom of the tank being set up the same way as the dry test?

On the other hand, what that would have to do with land animals is beyond me.  As far as I understand it, aren’t most fossils found in sedimentary rock as opposed to igneous?

Forgive me for thinking like a critic. ;)

Harley does not need to be forgiven. He has asked some excellent questions, as he should!

Sedimentary Rocks

He is right that paleomagnetism only applies to igneous rock—not sedimentary rock. We are sorry we didn’t make that clear.

In general, the rock layers formed under a lake, or under the ocean, are sedimentary. That is, they came from soft sediments that were carried by water to that place and hardened there. When talking about seafloor spreading, one might naturally think they are sedimentary, since the rocks in question are under water.

The rocks produced by seafloor spreading are igneous rocks. They are underwater lava flows. They aren’t sedimentary rocks, even though they are under water.

Under Water

The fact that the rocks are under water doesn’t matter because (1) water doesn’t disturb magnetic fields, and (2) the minerals in question were inside extremely hot rocks when they were aligning themselves with the magnetic field. It doesn’t matter if the rock is under air or under water, the minerals are inside the rock, not the air or water.

Harley’s email got me to wondering how the viscosity of water would affect the experiment, anyway. Viscosity is a resistance to flow. Air flows through a pipe more easily than water flows through a pipe because air has less viscosity than water. Water flows through a pipe more easily than honey because water has less viscosity than honey.

So, just to satisfy my curiosity, I repeated the experiment using water. Magnets dropped into a dish of water acted the same as magnets dropped onto a paper towel; but they moved more slowly under water, so it was easier to see how they moved. If I had it to do over again, I would have filmed the experiment as I dropped magnets into a glass dish of water.

But, as we will see in the later section titled, Size Matters, viscosity is irrelevant because there isn’t any fluid flow. The alignment happens inside solid rock.

Relevance to Fossils

Harley’s final question asked what paleomagnetism has to do with fossils, since fossils are found in sedimentary rock.

Some fossils, such as those at Pompeii, are found in volcanic ash or lava—but that’s rare. Harley is basically correct. Most fossils are found in sedimentary rock.

Paleomagnetism is used when the sedimentary rock is above, below, or between, layers of igneous rock. The age of the sedimentary rock containing fossils is bounded by the (incorrect) ages of the igneous layers around it.

Confusing Rows

Gary wrote,

In the recent newsletter figure showing the arrows indicating the antiparallel condition of the magnets, the order of direction seems peculiar:

top row pointing left
next to top to right
third from top right
fourth from top left.

To be consistent with same-poles opposing and opposite-poles attracting, why wouldn’t the row directions be alternating as:

top row to left
next to right
third to left
fourth to right?

We were hoping somebody would notice that! Sometimes four rows of magnets lined up North South North South (NSNS) and sometimes they lined up North South South North (NSSN). The widths of the alternating bands sometimes varied. There is a good reason for this.

Start out with the first row pointing North. It is impossible to place a magnet along side it facing North. The magnet will twist in your hand, or it will push your hand to either end of the first row of magnets, but it will not under any circumstances stick next to the first row pointing North.

Start out with the first row pointing North. Try to place a magnet along side it facing South. The magnet will be pulled out of your hand and attach itself firmly along side of the first row, pointing South.

No matter what you do, if the first row points North, the second row will always point South.

If you try to bring another magnet along side the two rows of magnets, you will feel a mild pull regardless of which way the magnet in your hand is pointing. That’s because the magnetic field of the first row cancels out the magnetic field of the second row. The two row combination acts like a single unmagnetized piece of metal. You can stick a magnet to it pointing North, South, East or West with roughly equal ease.

When you start a fourth row, you will feel the magnetic field forcing the fourth row to be opposite to the third row.

With the four rows of magnet stuck side by side, it will be easy to pull the first and second rows from the third and fourth rows regardless of whether they are NSNS or NSSN. But it will be hard to separate the first or fourth row from the other three. That’s because the magnetic field of the first row cancels the magnetic field of the second row, and the magnetic field of the third row cancels the magnetic field of the fourth row. The second and third rows are held together by just a weak attraction because the cancellation isn’t perfect.

Size Matters

Although Björn didn’t realize it, and actually got it backwards, he did make a valid observation. The size of the magnets used in our experiment is different from the magnetic particles measured to determine the age of rocks. He thought the magnets were too small to make a valid comparison. In fact, the magnets we used might be too large. This requires a long explanation.

Here’s what the manufacturer of the magnets we used in our experiment says on their website.

Rare Earth magnets have a high resistance to demagnetization, unlike most other types of magnets. They will not lose their magnetization around other magnets or if dropped. They will however, begin to lose strength if they are heated above their maximum operating temperature, which is 176°F (80°C) for standard N grades.  They will completely lose their magnetization if heated above their Curie temperature, which is 590°F (310°C) for standard N grades. 2

Here’s why they say that: Imagine that we took all 50 of our little magnets, covered them with water-soluble glue, and somehow managed to hold them side-by-side, with all their North poles pointing the same direction until the glue dried. It would be very difficult to do, because they would do everything they could to flip around; but suppose somehow we did it.

Then, after the glue dried, suppose we put them in a dish of water. As the glue dissolved, some of the magnets would flip around, until 25 were pointing North, and 25 were pointing South, and there would be no net magnetic field.

Magnets are made up of many smaller magnetic domains, like tiny magnets that have all been forced to align and have been glued together. At high temperatures (or when dropped), the magnetic domains are free to move around, as if they have become unglued. Half of them will naturally rotate 180 degrees to cancel out the magnetic field of the other half.

I admit that I did not do the glued magnet experiment; but I unintentionally dropped a bigger magnet, and three pieces of it chipped off.

I could not force the chips back into place. The chips just wanted to stick to anywhere on the magnet in the opposite direction, or on the end in the same direction.

K & J makes magnets by heating blanks above the Curie temperature, subjecting them to a very, very strong magnetic field, and then cooling them down while maintaining that field. When hot, the strong external magnetic field makes the magnetic domains in the magnet line up and holds them in place. After the magnet has cooled, the magnetic field can be removed, and the magnetic domains remain stuck in place. They will stay that way until the magnet is heated up enough to allow some of the magnetic domains to reverse.

Natural Magnetism

Now it is time to apply what we know about manufactured magnets to the naturally occurring magnets used for paleomagnetic dating.

The lava extruded on the seafloor is hotter than the Curie temperature, so the magnetic domains are free to line up with whatever magnetic field is strongest there. When the lava flow (or volcanic ash) cools, the magnetic domains will remain aligned with whatever magnetic field influenced them when they were hot.

Evolutionists assume that the only magnetic field present is the Earth’s natural magnetic field. They don’t consider the possibility that the magnetic field of a neighboring previous flow might be stronger. That’s where they go wrong.

Pole Shifts

Just to leave no stone unturned, we should mention that the magnetic North Pole is not perfectly aligned with the geographic North Pole (True North), and that the magnetic pole has been observed to wander in historic times. Wikipedia contains this map of the changing position of the magnetic North Pole. 3

Bear in mind that this wandering of the pole is not a reversal. There is no evidence that the magnetic North Pole has ever been anywhere near the geographic South Pole.

The myth that the magnetic North Pole has been near the South Pole several times over a period of millions of years is based on the incorrect assumption that the discovery of alternating bands of weakly magnetized rock is a result of magnetic domains lining up with the Earth’s magnetic field when the rock was above the Curie temperature.

As we have shown in a previous newsletter, and in the video of our experiments with magnets, the magnets line up in alternating bands because magnets naturally seek the lowest energy state. The lowest energy state occurs when magnets line up in alternating rows.

Quick links to
Science Against Evolution
Home Page
Back issues of
(our newsletter)
Web Site
of the Month
Topical Index


2 ibid.