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Radioactive decay and solar flares

  1. Aug 24, 2010 #1


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    http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/breaking/2010/08/23/the-strange-case-of-solar-flares-and-radioactive-elements/" [Broken]
    I just read this article. It suggests that solar activity has been shown to affect the rate of nuclear decay in the lab and that a particle may be responsible.
    Is this new information and does it have any repercussions?
    It sounded interesting to me.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2010 #2
    I think this should be in the Astrophysics section.
  4. Aug 24, 2010 #3


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    I just thought the nuclear decay aspect was more relevant than where the 'particles' come from.
    But, in any case, wadya think?
  5. Aug 24, 2010 #4
    I see, I'm not necessarily sure as to the history of our knowledge of neutrinos, although I do know that neutrinos, in particular solar neutrinos, are very enlightening to our knowledge of particle physics. Recently there has been considerable discoveries in the nature of neutrinos including, neutrino oscillations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutrino_oscillation) in which it changes lepton flavours (Electron, Muon, Tau), and the discovery that it has an infinitesimal mass (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutrino_mass#Mass). Regarding that article, although I'm not certain, I believe we have known that neutrinos play an important role in manufacturing the behaviour of our Sun.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  6. Aug 24, 2010 #5
    I think this could be a game changer on many different levels.

    First there is no known mechanism to allow neutrinos to affect radioactive decay. If it is happening we are probably seeing new physics. Always a good thing. It could also be some other dark particle in which case we are again seeing new physics. Total game changer for the theory people.

    If it is happening we can maybe construct an efficient neutrino detector. Current detectors are extremely inefficient and very expensive. It also may be a way to detect other dark matter particles. This may allow us to do dark mater astronomy. Total game changer.

    How about a neutrino radio? It isn't clear that the data rate would be very high but still useful for some purposes. If the detection is efficient enough then communication satellites become obsolete for many purposes. Total game changer.

    But really the results should be treated with skepticism until confirmed. I would think Fermilab could confirm pretty quickly.
  7. Aug 24, 2010 #6


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    I agree that this is potentially some exciting new physics, if confirmed. Note that it has already been seen at more than one lab (Brookhaven and PTB in Germany), and with more than one radioactive isotope (Si-32, Mn-54, and Ra-226). The statistics in the papers look very solid, so it certainly appears to be a real effect. I think many labs are jumping on the bandwagon to make more measurements, but since we are looking at annual variations, it will take a few years before all the results are in.
  8. Aug 24, 2010 #7
    But what about Fermilab? They play with a neutrino beam much stronger than what the sun produces. Shouldn't they be able to see an effect quickly and cheaply?
  9. Aug 25, 2010 #8


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    FAQ: Do rates of nuclear decay depend on environmental factors?

    There is one environmental effect that has been scientifically well established for a long time. In the process of electron capture, a proton in the nucleus combines with an inner-shell electron to produce a neutron and a neutrino. This effect does depend on the electronic environment, and in particular, the process cannot happen if the atom is completely ionized.

    Other claims of environmental effects on decay rates are crank science, often quoted by creationists in their attempts to discredit evolutionary and geological time scales.

    He et al. (He 2007) claim to have detected a change in rates of beta decay of as much as 11% when samples are rotated in a centrifuge, and say that the effect varies asymmetrically with clockwise and counterclockwise rotation. He believes that there is a mysterious energy field that has both biological and nuclear effects, and that it relates to circadian rhythms. The nuclear effects were not observed when the experimental conditions were reproduced by Ding et al.

    Jenkins and Fischbach claim to have observed effects on alpha decay rates correlated with an influence from the sun. They proposed that their results could be tested more dramatically by looking for changes in the rate of alpha decay in radioisotope thermoelectric generators aboard space probes. Such an effect turned out not to exist (Cooper 2009).

    Cardone et al. claim to have observed variations in the rate of alpha decay of thorium induced by 20 kHz ultrasound, and claim that this alpha decay occurs without the emission of gamma rays. Ericsson et al. have pointed out multiple severe problems with Cardone's experiments.

    He YuJian et al., Science China 50 (2007) 170.

    YouQian Ding et al., Science China 52 (2009) 690.

    Jenkins and Fischbach (2008), http://arxiv.org/abs/0808.3283v1

    Jenkins and Fischbach (2009), http://arxiv.org/abs/0808.3156

    Cooper (2009), http://arxiv.org/abs/0809.4248

    F. Cardone, R. Mignani, A. Petrucci, Phys. Lett. A 373 (2009) 1956

    Ericsson et al., Comment on "Piezonuclear decay of thorium," Phys. Lett. A 373 (2009) 1956, http://arxiv4.library.cornell.edu/abs/0907.0623 [Broken]

    Ericsson et al., http://arxiv.org/abs/0909.2141
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Aug 25, 2010 #9

    So this is old news already discredited? Thats a shame. But why is the story resurfacing on physorg news now. They really need better filters.
  11. Aug 23, 2011 #10
    I must admit to a significant degree of skepticism because there is no known mechanism for such an effect, however, the potential for new physics must never be ignored. Like the "Pioneer effect" there is sufficient experimental evidence to warrant further investigation into the phenomena. I suggest a relatively modest program to design instruments that are specifically designed to investigate the phenomena. If three or four identical facilities were built that had well shielded radioisotope samples of several different species and appropriate monitoring facilities the question could be put to rest in two or three years. I would suggest that these facilities be located in widely dispersed geographic locations where local conditions could easily be recognized and compensated. A positive result would be profound but even a negative conclusion would put the matter to rest.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
  12. Aug 23, 2011 #11


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    What evidence? Everything I have seen has discounted the evidence presented or not been able to produce similar results in a seperate experiment.
  13. Aug 24, 2011 #12


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    I saw this reported a few days ago on the show, "Through The Wormhole" hosted by Morgan Freeman. I'm absolutely shattered to discover that he promotes pseudoscience on that program. I've lost all faith in Morgan Freeman! I think the show's producers should dump Mr. Freeman in favor of a more believable host for their science show. Someone like Wesley Snipes would add so much more to that format.

    Is Mr. Snipes out of prision yet?
  14. Aug 24, 2011 #13


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    Entertainment shows are all suspect. Caveat empties.
  15. Aug 24, 2011 #14


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    Don't treat him too harshly. It is very difficult to know what is real science and what isn't. Hell, I've been here at PF for a year now and I still have problems knowing what's real and what's speculative.
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