Since you’ve made this about the scientist, rather than about the science, allow me to explain why I find Barry Bickmore’s comments to be credible. A Google search took me to his faculty web page at BYU, where I learned that he is a full professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. He earned his PhD at Virginia Tech, specializing in mineral surface geochemistry. His dissertation is titled “Atomic Force Microscopy Study of Clay Mineral Dissolution.” I gather that it is rooted in experimental work on real clay minerals. A link from his online bio takes you to a list of his publications. Counting the time he spent earning his undergraduate degree in geology, it appears that he’s been engaged in the study of geology, full time, for about 27 years—coincidentally, the same amount of time Mr. Sessions has devoted to the UM.
Armed with this easily-located information, here’s why I find his critiques of the UM to be credible. The UM makes a number of claims related to geochemistry, including sweeping statements about the chemical processes of mineral formation, stabilty of specific mineral phases under temperature and pressure, precipitation of minerals from solutions, erosion and weathering in the rock-making cycle, chemical reactions in melted rock, friction on rock surfaces, climate change, etc. On these topics, Prof. Bickmore is no mere gadfly. Bickmore’s publications address these subjects, and from the titles, one can infer that he has performed significant experimentation and laboratory measurement. You’ll see publications on the geochemistry of quartz, other silicate minerals, and oxides; research experience on friction at mineral surfaces and along faults, how minerals decompose into rocks, how crystallization of minerals occurs, and so on. To the extent that there may be “dogma” associated with the geological sciences (and I doubt that is the case), Bickmore’s work extends well outside those areas.
I’ve never met Barry Bickmore. I learned of his existence at the same time I became aware of Dean Sessions, through a newspaper article describing Bickmore’s objections to the UM’s Firm Foundation presentation earlier this year. Since then, I’ve been following the back-and-forth, as I gather you have. I’m not a geologist, but like Mr. Sessions it’s a subject I’ve been interested in for decades. While I’ve read the online material, watched the YouTube presentations, and listened to some of the KTalk interviews, I haven’t bought the book, and I don’t expect that I will.
So I wrote this to respond to one question that you asked. I don’t know whether Barry is smarter than Mr. Sessions, or whether he thinks he’s smarter. But, for myself, I conclude that Bickmore is eminently qualified to speak to the geochemical issues raised in the UM.
Oh, and one more thing. Meservy’s moment of inertia discussion is not the exclusive province of PhD physicists. I remember it appearing on the final exam in my sophomore physics class. In fact, it’s a concept and equation so basic that I expect you’d find it in high-school physics textbooks. Really, it’s basic, fundamental stuff.