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Yesterday's Nuclear Decay Related to Today's Flare

  1. Jun 23, 2011 #1


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    "Evidence for Time-Varying Nuclear Decay Rates: Experimental Results and Their Implications for New Physics"

    Authors: Ephraim Fischbach, Jere H. Jenkins, Peter A. Sturrock
    (Submitted on 7 Jun 2011)

    Abstract: Unexplained annual variations in nuclear decay rates have been reported in recent years by a number of groups. We show that data from these experiments exhibit not only variations in time related to Earth-Sun distance, but also periodicities attributable to solar rotation. Additionally, anomalous decay rates coincident in time with a series of solar flares in December 2006 also point to a solar influence on nuclear decay rates. This influence could arise from some flavor of solar neutrinos, or through some other objects we call "neutrellos" which behave in some ways like neutrinos. The indication that neutrinos or neutrellos must interact weakly in the Sun implies that we may be able to use data on time-varying nuclear decay rates to probe the interior of the Sun, a technique which we may call "helioradiology".

    Finally, in all the cases we have observed, there is a precursor signal in which the 54Mn
    count rate begins to change ~1 day before the solar event. This observation raises the
    possibility of establishing an “early-warning” system for potentially dangerous impending
    solar storms, whose damaging effects on astronauts; communications, navigation, defense
    and other satellites; and power grids and other electronic infrastructure could thus be
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2011 #2
    Useful if confirmed. But a lot more is needed before they hurdle the giggle factor.
  4. Jun 23, 2011 #3


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    Thank you for that candid remark, graal.

    Is it to be understood that any nervous tittering amongst physics students may be due to:
    a) doubt as to the reality of the reported observed effects or competency of investigators?
    b) lack of any definite mechanism to explain the reported effects?
    c) any potential inference of retro-causality?

    Respectfully yours,
  5. Jun 23, 2011 #4


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    I don't see any suggestion of retro-causality. The implication is some precursor process to the solar event emits neutrinos (or similar).
  6. Jun 23, 2011 #5
    What he said. A & B are really the giggle factor issues, but I don't see C implied by the data or researchers as yet.
  7. Jun 23, 2011 #6


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  8. Jun 23, 2011 #7


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    Thanks greatly. I'm very relieved to get rid of C. However, if I'm not mistaken, isn't Sturrock at least, recognized as one of the top living scientists? And since when is it part of the requirement of science to immediately produce accepted explanations for newly discovered phenomena?

    Please allow me to add,
    D) The whole idea of nuclear decay rates of isotopes on earth changing in strict accordance with solar flares of the following day just basically beggars all credulity??

    It just seems so anti-reductionist. It's like looking into the smallest particle and seeing the whole universe staring back at you. It's weird.

    Very respectfully submitted,
  9. Jun 23, 2011 #8


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    There is nothing mysterious about the suggestion. Imagine that a solar flare is triggered by a subsurface energy release of some kind, that produces neutrinos. Neutrinos reach us in 8 minutes. The flare takes a day to form. I think you are reading too much into this.

    I do not suggest the scientists aren't reputable. However, surprising results require good evidence. From what I found following the cite history for their papers on this, the only people citing them were themselves and two people checking the results. They failed to confirm it. That is they way science works.
  10. Jun 23, 2011 #9


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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 (2008) claim to have observed effects on alpha decay rates at the 10^-3 level, 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). Undeterred by their theory's failure to pass their own proposed test, they have gone on to publish even kookier ideas, such as a neutrino-mediated effect from solar flares, even though solar flares are a surface phenomenon, whereas neutrinos come from the sun's core. An independent study found no such link between flares and decay rates (Parkhomov 2010a). Laboratory experiments[Lindstrom 2010] have also placed limits on the sensitivity of radioactive decay to neutrino flux that rule out a neutrino-mediated effect at a level orders of magnitude less than what would be required in order to explain the variations claimed in [Jenkins 2008].

    Jenkins and Fischbach's latest claims, in 2010, are based on experiments done decades ago by other people, so that Jenkins and Fischbach have no first-hand way of investigating possible sources of systematic error. Other attempts to reproduce the result are also plagued by systematic errors of the same size as the claimed effect. For example, an experiment by Parkhomov (2010b) shows a Fourier power spectrum in which a dozen other peaks are nearly as prominent as the claimed yearly variation.

    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, Astropart.Phys.32:42-46,2009

    Jenkins and Fischbach (2009), http://arxiv.org/abs/0808.3156, Astropart.Phys.31:407-411,2009

    Jenkins and Fischbach (2010), http://arxiv.org/abs/1007.3318

    Parkhomov 2010a, http://arxiv.org/abs/1006.2295

    Parkhomov 2010b, http://arxiv.org/abs/1012.4174

    Cooper (2009), http://arxiv.org/abs/0809.4248, Astropart.Phys.31:267-269,2009

    Lindstrom et al. (2010), http://arxiv.org/abs/1006.5071, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A, 622 (2010) 93-96

    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
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