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Defending the Christian Worlview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design

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Defending the Christian Worlview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design » Astronomy & Cosmology and God » In the sequence of atomic weight, numbers 5 and 8 are vacant

In the sequence of atomic weight, numbers 5 and 8 are vacant

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In the sequence of atomic weight, numbers 5 and 8 are vacant

The initial Big Bang explosion is said to have produced hydrogen and helium, which, through later explosions, changed into the heavier elements. But the atomic gaps would forbid this from occurring. 1

"In the sequence of atomic weight, numbers 5 and 8 are vacant. That is, there is no stable atom of mass 5 or mass 8 . . The question then is: How can the build-up of elements by neutron capture get by these gaps? The process could not go beyond helium 4 and even if it spanned this gap it would be stopped again at mass 8 . . This basic objection to Gamow's theory is a great disappointment in view of the promise and philosophical attractiveness of the idea."

—*William A. Fowler, quoted in Creation Science, p. 90 [California Institute of Technology].

"There is no accepted theory as to how the hot gas clouds of hydrogen and helium arising out of the big bang condensed into galaxies, stars and planets. It would seem that the possibility of such a condensation is similar to the probability for all of the air in a room to collect in one corner—just by random motion of the molecules."

—H.M. Morris, W.W. Boardman, and R. F. Koontz, Science and Creation (1971), p. 89.

Alpher–Bethe–Gamow paper - Main shortcoming of the theory

No element was found to have a stable isotope with an atomic mass of five or eight. Physicists soon noticed that these mass gaps would hinder the production of elements beyond helium. Just as it's impossible to climb a staircase one step at a time when one of the steps is missing, this discovery meant that the successive capture theory could not account for higher elements. 2



The Mass-5 and Mass-8 Bottlenecks

The helium that is produced as the "ash" in this thermonuclear "burning" cannot undergo fusion reactions at these temperatures or even substantially above because of a basic fact of nuclear physics in our Universe: there are no stable isotopes (of any element) having atomic masses 5 or 8. This means that the two most likely initial steps for the fusion of helium-4 (the next most abundant isotope in stars after hydrogen-1) involve combining the He-4 with H-1 to form a mass-5 isotope, or combining two He-4 nuclei to form a mass-8 isotope. But both are unstable, and so immediately fly apart before they can undergo any further reactions. This produces a bottleneck to further fusion at mass 5 and at mass 8.
High Temperatures and Helium Fusion

Only at extremely high temperatures, of order 100 million K, can this bottleneck be circumvented by a highly improbable reaction. At those temperatures, the fusion of two He-4 nuclei forms highly unstable Beryllium-8 at a fast enough rate that there is always a very small equilibrium concentration of Be-8 at any one instant.
The situation is somewhat like running water through a sieve. Normally the sieve holds no water because it drains out as fast as it is added. However, if the flow of water into the sieve is made fast enough, a small equilibrium amount of water will be in the sieve at any instant because even the sieve cannot empty the water fast enough to keep up with the incoming water.

This small concentration of Be-8 can begin to undergo reactions with other He-4 nuclei to produce an excited state of the mass-12 isotope of Carbon. This excited state is unstable, but a few of these excited Carbon nuclei emit a gamma-ray quickly enough to become stable before they disintegrate. This extremely improbable sequence is called the triple-alpha process because the net effect is to combine 3 alpha particles (that is, 3 He-4 nuclei) to form a C-12 nucleus.

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