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Robert V. Gentry

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Robert Vance Gentry
BornJuly 9, 1933
Chattanooga, Tennessee
DiedJanuary 28, 2020 (aged 86)
Loma Linda, California
Alma materUniversity of Florida
Known forYoung Earth creationist interpretations of radiohalos
Scientific career
FieldsNuclear physics

Robert Vance Gentry (July 9, 1933 – January 28, 2020) was an American young Earth creationist and nuclear physicist, known for his claims that radiohalos provide evidence for a young age of the Earth.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]


Gentry noted that the 218 polonium radio halos only formed at temperatures below 300 degrees and were visible for less than 3 minutes, thus requiring the Precambrian granites where they are to have formed by a quick process yet "mysterious"[clarification needed] [13] cold, highlighting the singularities of the continental crust [14][15] in relation to the oceanic crust. When questioned in debates that defended the thermal paradigm in the formation of the earth's rocks, Gentry challenged them to then reproduce Precambrian granites containing the same,[16] in miniature, since such a process should then be able to imitate the formation of granites containing halos. After unanswered decades, Australian geologist Andrew Snelling proposed "a model in which hydrothermal fluids separated 222 Rn and their parents' Po isotopes 238 U in zircons and transported them over very short distances along cleavage planes in the host and adjacent, biotites until 222 Rn decays and the Po isotopes were chemically concentrated in radiocentres, to later produce the Po radiohalos.[17]


Gentry received a master's degree in physics from the University of Florida, and then worked in the defense industry in nuclear weapons research.[11] In 1959, he was influenced by a verse he read in the Bible while looking at polonium halos, and subsequently converted to Seventh-day Adventism. Thereafter, he entered the doctoral program at Georgia Institute of Technology, but left when he was refused permission to work on the age of the Earth for his dissertation.[18]

By this time he was convinced that radiohalos might be the key to determining the age of the Earth, and might be capable of vindicating flood geology. He continued to work on the subject at home using a small microscope and attempted to publish his results (minus his creationist conclusions) in one or more peer reviewed scientific journals. In 1969, while Gentry was affiliated with an Adventist college in Maryland, Oak Ridge National Laboratory invited him to use their facilities, as a guest scientist in the hope that his work on radiohalos might lead to discovering super-heavy elements. This relationship was terminated as a result of his participation in McLean v. Arkansas.[11]

Claims and criticism[edit]

Gentry has had strong disagreements with other creationists over some details of flood geology.[19] A number of creationists, including fellow Seventh-day Adventists, have criticised his work.[11]

In the late 1970s, Gentry challenged the scientific community to synthesize "a hand-sized specimen of a typical biotite-bearing granite" as a test of his claims. The scientific response was dismissive. Geologist G. Brent Dalrymple stated:[11] "As far as I am concerned, Gentry's challenge is silly. … He has proposed an absurd and inconclusive experiment to test a perfectly ridiculous and unscientific hypothesis that ignores virtually the entire body of geological knowledge."

In 1981, Gentry was a defense witness in the McLean v. Arkansas case over the constitutional validity of Act 590 that mandated that "creation science" be given equal time in public schools with evolution.[20] Act 590 was ruled to be unconstitutional (a verdict that was upheld by the Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard).

Gentry has devised his own creationist cosmology and filed a lawsuit in 2001 against Los Alamos National Laboratory and Cornell University after personnel deleted ten of his papers about his cosmology from the public preprint server arXiv.[21] On 23 March 2004, Gentry's lawsuit against arXiv was dismissed by a Tennessee court on the grounds that it lacked territorial jurisdiction, as neither defendant in the case was considered to have a significant presence in the state of Tennessee.[22]

His self-published book Creation's Tiny Mystery was reviewed by geologist Gregg Wilkerson, who said that it has several logical flaws and concluded that "the book is a source of much misinformation about current geologic thinking and confuses fact with interpretation." Wilkerson also noted that the book contains considerable autobiographical material and he observed that "[i]n general I don't think educators will find it's worth their time to tread through this creationist's whining."[23] This criticism of Gentry's "frequent whining about discrimination" has also been made by fellow creationists, who concluded that "his scientific snubs resulted more from his own abrasive style than from his peculiar ideas", according to critic Ronald L. Numbers, a historian of science.[11]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Gentry, Robert V. (14 June 1968). "Fossil Alpha-Recoil Analysis of Certain Variant Radioactive Halos". Science. 160 (3833): 1228–1230. Bibcode:1968Sci...160.1228G. doi:10.1126/science.160.3833.1228. PMID 17818744. S2CID 10932798.
  • Gentry, Robert V. (14 August 1970). "Giant Radioactive Halos: Indicators of Unknown Radioactivity?". Science. 169 (3946): 670–673. Bibcode:1970Sci...169..670G. doi:10.1126/science.169.3946.670. PMID 17791843. S2CID 33001798.
  • Gentry, Robert V. (5 April 1974). "Radiohalos in a Radiochronological and Cosmological Perspective". Science. 184 (4132): 62–66. Bibcode:1974Sci...184...62G. doi:10.1126/science.184.4132.62. PMID 17734632. S2CID 21556640.
  • Gentry, Robert V.; Gary L. Glish; Eddy H. McBay (October 1982). "Helium Retention in Zircons : Implications for Nuclear Waste Management". Geophysical Research Letters. 9 (10): 1129–1130. doi:10.1029/GL009i010p01129.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  • Gentry, Robert V.; T. A. Cahill; R. G. Flocchini; N. R. Fletcher; H. C. Kaufmann; L. R. Medsker; J. W. Nelson (1976). "Evidence for Primordial Superheavy Elements". Physical Review Letters. 37 (1): 11–15. Bibcode:1976PhRvL..37...11G. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.37.11.
  • Robert V. Gentry, (1986). Creation's Tiny Mystery. (Knoxville, Tenn.: Earth Science Associates) Page 66 ISBN 0-9616753-1-4


  1. ^ Gentry, R. V.; Christie, W. H.; Smith, D. H. (August 1978). "Implications on unknown radioactivity of giant and dwarf haloes in Scandinavian rocks". Nature. 274 (5670): 457–459. Bibcode:1978Natur.274..457G. doi:10.1038/274457a0. ISSN 1476-4687. S2CID 4296730. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  2. ^ Gentry, R. V.; Halperin, J. H.; Ketelle, B. H. (May 1978). "Reinvestigation of the α-activity of Conway granite". Nature. 273 (5659): 217–218. Bibcode:1978Natur.273..217G. doi:10.1038/273217a0. ISSN 1476-4687. S2CID 4211367. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  3. ^ "Orion Foundation: Exposing the Flaws in the Big Bang Theory". 2016-03-03. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  4. ^ Gentry, Robert V. (1968). "Fossil Alpha-Recoil Analysis of Certain Variant Radioactive Halos". Science. 160 (3833): 1228–1230. Bibcode:1968Sci...160.1228G. doi:10.1126/science.160.3833.1228. PMID 17818744. S2CID 10932798. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  5. ^ Gentry, Robert V. (1970). "Giant Radioactive Halos: Indicators of Unknown Radioactivity?". Science. 169 (3946): 670–673. Bibcode:1970Sci...169..670G. doi:10.1126/science.169.3946.670. PMID 17791843. S2CID 33001798. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Scopus preview - Gentry, Robert V. - Author details - Scopus". www.scopus.com. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  7. ^ Gentry, Robert V. (1984-02-24). "Lead Retention in Zircons". Science. 223 (4638): 835. doi:10.1126/science.223.4638.835-a. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 17737758.
  8. ^ Gentry, Robert V.; Sworski, Thomas J.; McKOWN, Henry S. (1982-04-16). "Differential Lead Retention in Zircons: Implications for Nuclear Waste Containment". Science. 216 (4543): 296–298. Bibcode:1982Sci...216..296G. doi:10.1126/science.216.4543.296. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 17832745. S2CID 13356142. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  9. ^ "Origin of Polonium Halos". National Center for Science Education. 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Polonium Halos: Unrefuted Evidence for Earth's Instant Creation". Earth Science Associates.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Numbers, Ronald (November 30, 2006). The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, Expanded Edition. Harvard University Press. pp. 280–282. ISBN 978-0-674-02339-0.
  12. ^ "Robert Vance Gentry". Dignity Memorial. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  13. ^ Gentry, Robert V.; Hulett, L. D.; Cristy, S. S. (December 1974). "'Spectacle' array of 210 Po halo radiocentres in biotite: a nuclear geophysical enigma". Nature. 252 (5484): 564–566. Bibcode:1974Natur.252..564G. doi:10.1038/252564a0. ISSN 1476-4687. S2CID 4153578. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  14. ^ Hartmann, Jens; Dürr, Hans H.; Moosdorf, Nils (2012-01-01). "The geochemical composition of the terrestrial surface (without soils) and comparison with the upper continental crust". International Journal of Earth Sciences. 101 (1): 365–376. Bibcode:2012IJEaS.101..365H. doi:10.1007/s00531-010-0635-x. ISSN 1437-3262. S2CID 128396716.
  15. ^ Campbell, I. H. (1985-09-01). "The difference between oceanic and continental tholeiites: a fluid dynamic explanation". Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology. 91 (1): 37–43. Bibcode:1985CoMP...91...37C. doi:10.1007/BF00429425. ISSN 1432-0967. S2CID 129273961. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  16. ^ "Evidence for Earth's Instant Creation - Polonium Halos in Granite and Coal - Earth Science Associates". www.halos.com. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  17. ^ Snelling, Andrew; Armitage, Mark (2020-10-05). "Radiohalos: A Tale of Three Granitic Plutons". Proceedings of the International Conference on Creationism. 5 (1). ISSN 2639-4006. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  18. ^ Numbers, Ronald L. (2006). The creationists: from scientific creationism to intelligent design (Expanded ed.). Harvard University Press. p. 280. ISBN 978-0-674-02339-0.
  19. ^ Exchanges, Earth Science Associates
  20. ^ McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education
  21. ^ Lawsuit Filed, Earth Science Associates
  22. ^ Retribution denied to creationist suing arXiv over religious bias Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine, News in Brief, Nature, 1 April 2004
  23. ^ Gregg Wilkerson, "Creation's tiny mystery Review" in Reviews of Creationist Books ed Liz Rank Hughes, National Center for Science Education, 1992. page 55 ISBN 0-939873-52-4

Further reading[edit]

  1. Wise, Kurt (March 1989). "Radioactive Halos: Geological Concerns". Creation Research Society Quarterly. 25 (4). Creation Research Society. Archived from the original on 2009-08-05.
  2. Baillieul, T.A. (2001–2005), "Polonium Haloes" Refuted: A Review of "Radioactive Halos in a Radio-Chronological and Cosmological Perspective" by Robert V. Gentry, TalkOrigins Archive
  3. Brawley, J. (1992), Evolution's Tiny Violences: The Po-Halo Mystery, TalkOrigins Archive
  4. Ellenberger, C.L., with reply by Gentry, R.V. 1984. "Polonium Halos Redux," Physics Today. December 1984. pp. 91–92
  5. Ellenberger, C.L. 1986. "Absolute Dating," unanswered surrebuttal to Gentry, Physics Today. March 1986. pp. 152, 156
  6. Gentry, R.V. (1970), "Giant Radioactive Halos: Indicators of Unknown Alpha-Radioactivity?" (PDF), Science, 169 (3946) (published August 1970): 670–673, Bibcode:1970Sci...169..670G, doi:10.1126/science.169.3946.670, PMID 17791843, S2CID 33001798.
  7. Gentry, R.V. (1975), "Spectacle Haloes", Nature, 258 (5532) (published October 1975): 269–270, Bibcode:1975Natur.258..269G, doi:10.1038/258269c0, S2CID 4285790.
  8. Gentry, R.V. (1973), "Radioactive Halos", Annual Review of Nuclear Science, 23 (1) (published October 1973): 347–362, Bibcode:1973ARNPS..23..347G, doi:10.1146/annurev.ns.23.120173.002023.
  9. Gentry, R.V. (1974), "Radiohalos in a Radiochronological and Cosmological Perspective" (PDF), Science, 184 (4132) (published October 1974): 62–66, Bibcode:1974Sci...184...62G, doi:10.1126/science.184.4132.62, PMID 17734632, S2CID 21556640.
  10. Gentry, R.V. (1992), Creation's Tiny Mystery, Earth Science Associates (published 2004).
  11. Osmon, P., 1986, "Gentry’s pleochroic halos: Creation/Evolution," Newsletter, Feser, Karl D., Editor, v. 6, no. 1, Concord College, Athens, West Virginia
  12. Schadewald, R., 1987. "Gentry’s tiny mystery, Creation/Evolution" Newsletter, Fezer, Karl D, Editor, v. 4, no. 2 & 3. Concord College. Athens. West Virginia, p 20.

External links[edit]