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Do nuclear decay rates depend on our distance from the sun?
The Physics Arxiv Blog ^ | August 29th, 2008 | KFC

Posted on 09/02/2008 8:14:57 PM PDT by B-Chan

Here’s an interesting conundrum involving nuclear decay rates.

We think that the decay rates of elements are constant regardless of the ambient conditions (except in a few special cases where beta decay can be influenced by powerful electric fields).

So that makes it hard to explain the curious periodic variations in the decay rates of silicon-32 and radium-226 observed by groups at the Brookhaven National Labs in the US and at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesandstalt in Germany in the 1980s.

Today, the story gets even more puzzling. Jere Jenkins and pals at Purdue University in Indiana have re-analysed the raw data from these experiments and say that the modulations are synchronised with each other and with Earth’s distance from the sun. (Both groups, in acts of selfless dedication, measured the decay rates of silicon-32 and radium-226 over a period of many years.)

In other words, there appears to be an annual variation in the decay rates of these elements.

Jenkins and co put forward two theories to explain why this might be happening.

First, they say a theory developed by John Barrow at the University of Cambridge in the UK and Douglas Shaw at the University of London, suggests that the sun produces a field that changes the value of the fine structure constant on Earth as its distance from the sun varies during each orbit. Such an effect would certainly cause the kind of an annual variation in decay rates that Jenkins and co highlight.


TOPICS: Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: catastrophism; ontology; physics; quantum; science; stringtheory
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The physics blogs are abuzz with discussion of this paper. I don't know enough about physics to have more than a tenuous grasp of this topic, but from what I've read the furor is based upon the fact that recent observations are calling into question some of the basic concepts of physics. Essentially, the reference data collected by scientists at both the Brookhaven National Labs in the US and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesandstalt (the National Institute for Physics and Technology in Germany) suggest that \alpha \, the fine structure constant — the fundamental physical constant characterizing the strength of the electromagnetic interaction as measured on Earth — varies according to the distance of Earth from the sun. If the Sun produces a scalar field capable of modulating the terrestrial value of the electromagnetic fine structure constant, this would be a significant discovery; \alpha \ is a so-called magic number in physics, a number "written by the Hand of God" according to Richard P. Feynman; it characterizes, among other things, the rate at which radioactive elements decay. If the fine structure constant proves to be variable based upn Earth's distance from the sun, then a great many 'settled questions" of physics (including radiocarbon dating) will become unsettled again.

What does this all mean to our daily lives? Not much in the short term, but it could cause some significant revisions across the board in terms of physics if the theory espoused in the paper proves to be accurate. (As far as the possible implications for radiocarbon dating, I don't think that variations in the fine structure constant would be large enough to have any revolutionary effect on current estimates of the age of the Earth, however.) If this research leads to a new model of radioactive decay and quantum electrodynamics, however, we could see some real fireworks in the applied sciences over the long term.

Cite:

Jere H. Jenkins, Ephraim Fischbach, John B. Buncher, John T. Gruenwald, Dennis E. Krause and Joshua J. Mattes

Physics Department, Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, 47933, USA

Physics Department, Purdue University, 525 Northwestern Avenue, West Lafayette, Indiana, 47907, USA

Received. 25 August 2008 Last updated. 25 August 2008

Abstract. Unexplained periodic fluctuations in the decay rates of Si-32 and Ra-226 have been reported by groups at Brookhaven National Laboratory (Si-32), and at the Physikalisch-Technische-Bundesandstalt in Germany (Ra-226). We show from an analysis of the raw data in these experiments that the observed fluctuations are strongly correlated in time, not only with each other, but also with the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Some implications of these results are also discussed, including the suggestion that discrepancies in published half-life determinations for these and other nuclides may be attributable in part to differences in solar activity during the course of the various experiments, or to seasonal variations in fundamental constants.

1 posted on 09/02/2008 8:14:57 PM PDT by B-Chan
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To: B-Chan
There's a lot of material in space probes. Should be able to draw a base-line from that.

/johnny

2 posted on 09/02/2008 8:18:14 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Bless us all, each, and every one.)
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To: B-Chan

OK, is the power level from the radioisotope thermoelectric generators on the Voyagers dropping off at the expected rate?


3 posted on 09/02/2008 8:19:48 PM PDT by null and void (Sarah Palin might be more conservative than even John McCain ~ Megyn Kelly, Fox News 9/2/08)
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To: JRandomFreeper

If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?


4 posted on 09/02/2008 8:20:50 PM PDT by null and void (Sarah Palin might be more conservative than even John McCain ~ Megyn Kelly, Fox News 9/2/08)
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To: B-Chan


5 posted on 09/02/2008 8:22:34 PM PDT by Flavius (war gives peace its security)
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To: null and void

Mayhap he is, and slumming? ;-)


6 posted on 09/02/2008 8:23:25 PM PDT by doc1019 (Palin '12)
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To: null and void
I have been, but because I kept getting married, I blew it. I'm not doing that this cycle. ;)

/johnny

7 posted on 09/02/2008 8:23:44 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Bless us all, each, and every one.)
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To: B-Chan

That would really mess up our scientific thought on the rest of the universe. I think this is funny. sorry. It is funny. :-)


8 posted on 09/02/2008 8:25:21 PM PDT by FreeAtlanta (NOBAMA - it is for our future)
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To: doc1019
Nope. Broke AND ugly.

Helps with staying single.

/johnny

9 posted on 09/02/2008 8:25:45 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Bless us all, each, and every one.)
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To: B-Chan

Wow! This is a big deal, folks.


10 posted on 09/02/2008 8:25:48 PM PDT by Scutter
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To: JRandomFreeper
because I kept getting married, I blew it.

Thought you said you were smart?
11 posted on 09/02/2008 8:27:15 PM PDT by beezdotcom
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To: B-Chan

I’m not sure.

But I’m not moving closer to the Sun, if that’s what you’re suggesting.

And I’m not moving farther away, either. I stick with the normal rotation of the Earth around the Sun for now.

LOL


12 posted on 09/02/2008 8:28:47 PM PDT by F15Eagle (1 John 5:4-5, 4:15, John 11:25, 14:6, 1 Tim 2:5, John 3:17-18, John 20:31, 1 John 5:13, John 6:69)
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To: B-Chan
Dunno about that, but I know that Rice Krispies stuck higher on the bowl dry out faster.

I think it's because they are closer to the sun. :-P

(Thank you, George Carlin)

13 posted on 09/02/2008 8:30:30 PM PDT by uglybiker (I do not suffer from mental illness. I quite enjoy it, actually.)
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To: null and void
And I'm a culinary school graduate. I can cook circles around Chefs that don't understand how acids react with the rest of the world. Especially in fats.

Life is good when you get old and don't give a sh&%.

/johnny

14 posted on 09/02/2008 8:30:42 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Bless us all, each, and every one.)
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To: null and void
(Both groups, in acts of selfless dedication, measured the decay rates of silicon-32 and radium-226 over a period of many years.)

No research grants?

15 posted on 09/02/2008 8:30:48 PM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: beezdotcom
He claimed I was smart. I'm just sitting here.

/johnny

16 posted on 09/02/2008 8:31:51 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Bless us all, each, and every one.)
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To: B-Chan
Probabilty Sun

Anybody interested in the article should try out this novel. It's strangely similiar. I know, I'm reading it now.
17 posted on 09/02/2008 8:32:21 PM PDT by StormEye
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To: B-Chan
No, the fine structure constant isn't going to change. But it is perfectly believable the neutrino flux from all the nuclear reactions in the sun, slightly influences some sensitive decay rates, and varies with distance.
18 posted on 09/02/2008 8:33:21 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: B-Chan
(As far as the possible implications for radiocarbon dating, I don't think that variations in the fine structure constant would be large enough to have any revolutionary effect on current estimates of the age of the Earth, however.)

Minor correction: Radiocarbon dating only goes back some 50,000 to 60,000 years. It is other forms of radiometric dating that are used to determine the age of the earth.

19 posted on 09/02/2008 8:33:32 PM PDT by Coyoteman (Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.)
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To: B-Chan

As with Obama and the question of at what time it comes to when a HUMAN being should have human rights, this thread is “above my pay grade”....


20 posted on 09/02/2008 8:33:33 PM PDT by KoRn (Barack Obama Must Be Stopped!!!)
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To: JRandomFreeper
He claimed I was smart. I'm just sitting here.

DANG....you ARE smart!
21 posted on 09/02/2008 8:33:44 PM PDT by beezdotcom
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To: B-Chan

The big question with decay-rate dating is the question of whether ANY heavy metals which we find near the Earth’s surface are native to our planet or arrived via impact events. Given the standard idea of our planet having formed from swirling masses of solar material, you’d expect all the heavy metals to be at the center and nowhere near the surface.


22 posted on 09/02/2008 8:34:29 PM PDT by wendy1946
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To: JRandomFreeper

Did my best to give you and out … ;-)


23 posted on 09/02/2008 8:34:45 PM PDT by doc1019 (Palin '12)
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To: B-Chan

It’s good for the scientists, who do know so much, to be occasionally reminded how much they don’t know.

I wonder if this changes the age of stars. I don’t know if it’s a factor. But it seems like this might have consequences for things where the difference from Earth gravity is much more than the difference we have from spring to summer.


24 posted on 09/02/2008 8:36:51 PM PDT by FreePoster (Political correctness will not die of its own sickness. It has to be killed by the ideas of freedom.)
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To: KoRn
Right up until you crack open a human skull without a license, try everything, learn everything, and if you want to do brain surgery, get a license and study up.

Nothing on this thread is difficult to learn, a home-schooler with a little sense would get it after a little study.

Physics is easy. Somebody suggests something, folks figure out a way to measure it. That's the way it goes.

But it's not above your pay-grade. You can do physics. You DO physics, whether you realize it or not.

Own the geekage!

/johnny

25 posted on 09/02/2008 8:40:17 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Bless us all, each, and every one.)
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To: JasonC

I, too, first thought of solar neutrino flux.


26 posted on 09/02/2008 8:45:58 PM PDT by Steely Tom (Without the second, the rest are just politicians' BS.)
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To: F15Eagle
And I’m not moving farther away, either. I stick with the normal rotation of the Earth around the Sun for now.

With the normal rotation of the earth in it's orbit, you *are* moving closer and farther away from the sun. The earth's orbit is not a circle, it's an ellipse, with one foci essentially at the center of the sun.

27 posted on 09/02/2008 8:48:44 PM PDT by El Gato ("The Second Amendment is the RESET button of the United States Constitution." -- Doug McKay)
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To: B-Chan
Jenkins and co put forward two theories to explain why this might be happening.

Okay all you FR physicists, help me out here, s'il vous plaît

I'm really only seeing one theory. Do they run together somehow? Was the second theory just modulated out of existence, perhaps from being engulfed by a scalar field?

28 posted on 09/02/2008 8:49:01 PM PDT by Seaplaner (Never give in. Never give in. Never...except to convictions of honour and good sense. W. Churchill)
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To: JasonC
it is perfectly believable the neutrino flux from all the nuclear reactions in the sun, slightly influences some sensitive decay rates, and varies with distance.

But neutrinos pass through matter without hardly ever interacting with it.

29 posted on 09/02/2008 8:49:40 PM PDT by ETL (Smoking-gun evidence on all the ObamaRat-Commie connections at my FR Profile/Home page)
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To: FreePoster
It could certainly have an impact on the accurate determination of red-shift, which could in turn affect theories of cosmological expansion, age of the universe, etc.


Did I mention that "it's Bush's fault"?
30 posted on 09/02/2008 8:50:48 PM PDT by beezdotcom
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To: JasonC
To the level of observable changes in V1 and V2 spacecraft? They have radioisotope power supplies. Rather primitive, I might add... dis-similar metal junction generators?

Not my generation.

/johnny

31 posted on 09/02/2008 8:52:01 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Bless us all, each, and every one.)
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To: Gondring
No research grants?

Even with them, this would be a generally very boring project. Boring is hard work, especially for the likes of most physicists.

32 posted on 09/02/2008 8:53:45 PM PDT by El Gato ("The Second Amendment is the RESET button of the United States Constitution." -- Doug McKay)
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To: El Gato
With the normal rotation of the earth in it's orbit, you *are* moving closer and farther away from the sun. The earth's orbit is not a circle, it's an ellipse, with one foci essentially at the center of the sun.

True. The Earth is actually about 3 million miles closer to the Sun during northern hemisphere *winter*.

33 posted on 09/02/2008 8:57:21 PM PDT by ETL (Smoking-gun evidence on all the ObamaRat-Commie connections at my FR Profile/Home page)
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To: JRandomFreeper
Not my generation.

*groan*

34 posted on 09/02/2008 8:57:52 PM PDT by null and void (Sarah Palin might be more conservative than even John McCain ~ Megyn Kelly, Fox News 9/2/08)
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To: B-Chan
In other words, there appears to be an annual variation in the decay rates of these elements.

But if it's caused by something to do with the Sun, then there's no reason to believe that any fundamental properties of the universe are changing.

35 posted on 09/02/2008 9:02:51 PM PDT by ETL (Smoking-gun evidence on all the ObamaRat-Commie connections at my FR Profile/Home page)
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To: null and void
I can still do colpitts oscillator calcs with triodes. B+ and all of that. But it really was an earlier generation.

And besides, I'm just a cook..... That can program on bare metal.

/johnny

36 posted on 09/02/2008 9:03:00 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Bless us all, each, and every one.)
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To: All; no one in particular; et al

We’ve already been discussing this article for a few days.

Do nuclear decay rates depend on our distance from the sun?
the physics arXiv blog ^ | 8/29/08

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2008 9:29:09 AM by LibWhacker
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2070597/posts


37 posted on 09/02/2008 9:03:57 PM PDT by Kevmo (Obama Birth Certificate is a Forgery. http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/certifigate/index?tab=articles)
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To: F15Eagle

“But I’m not moving closer to the Sun, if that’s what you’re suggesting.

And I’m not moving farther away, either. “

You do know the Earth’s orbit is not a perfect circle, don’t you?


38 posted on 09/02/2008 9:08:07 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The Last Boy Scout)
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To: ETL
Um, each one has minimal cross section sure, but where do you think they come from and what do you think they cause when then do interact with matter? When you have a hot enough reactor, which is what the sun is, enough get put out for some to interact. And their sig is monkeying with weak force reaction rates.

neutrino reaction rates

39 posted on 09/02/2008 9:08:17 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: Steely Tom; JasonC

“I, too, first thought of solar neutrino flux.”

Me too. I heard they have a new album out.


40 posted on 09/02/2008 9:10:56 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The Last Boy Scout)
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To: Kevmo; Admin Moderator

Hmm. I did a Title search under “nuclear decay rates” and nothing came up. My apologies for the duplicate post.


41 posted on 09/02/2008 9:11:45 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: B-Chan

Puthoff and Sakharov vindicated?


42 posted on 09/02/2008 9:12:11 PM PDT by djf (I always see turkeys in Oregon. Sometimes, I see birds as well.)
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To: wendy1946

“Given the standard idea of our planet having formed from swirling masses of solar material, you’d expect all the heavy metals to be at the center and nowhere near the surface.”

There are several reasons they appear near the surface.


43 posted on 09/02/2008 9:12:44 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The Last Boy Scout)
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To: El Gato

That’s why God made grad students.


44 posted on 09/02/2008 9:15:44 PM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: ETL

“The Earth is actually about 3 million miles closer to the Sun during northern hemisphere *winter*. “

While true, many would insist it should be the other way around.

And it has been the other way around, a long time ago.

Which is part of the reason that continents in the Northern Hemisphere were covered with ice.


45 posted on 09/02/2008 9:17:20 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The Last Boy Scout)
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To: B-Chan; John Robinson
I did a Title search

The search function died about ten days ago.

46 posted on 09/02/2008 9:22:01 PM PDT by ASA Vet
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To: JRandomFreeper

I heard these fluctuations might be due to sometin’ called
“quantum tunneling”....what always made me wonder was why
did one particular atom(call it Atom A) decay when the
one next to it(atom B) didn’t? Also, how does one know
when Atom A was produced, and when Atom B was produced.
Could the decay of Atom A prevent the Decay of atom B, or
could atom B cause the decay of Atom A?
If so, it could argue to extraneous causes for decay, hence
degrading the axiom that radioactive decay is useful as a
chronometer. What about massive cosmic radiation events
from pulsars, or supernovas, or sunstorms, could those
effect decay rates?
Could a massive spacetime “convulsion” reset the
radioactive clocks???


47 posted on 09/02/2008 9:25:41 PM PDT by Getready (Wisdom is more valuable than gold and diamonds, and harder to find.)
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adding, not pinging, because duplicate. And may I just commend B-Chan, this is about the most unlikely duplicate topic in FR history (so far). :')
 
Catastrophism
· join · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post new topic ·
and

48 posted on 09/02/2008 9:29:09 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_______Profile hasn't been updated since Friday, May 30, 2008)
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To: B-Chan

As I’ve said before, it’s related to the
oxymoronic cosmic ying-yang forces juxtaposed through
the Yau-calabi spacetime continuum in the 22nd
dimension. Now what don’t you understand?


49 posted on 09/02/2008 9:29:54 PM PDT by Getready (Wisdom is more valuable than gold and diamonds, and harder to find.)
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To: JasonC
each one has minimal cross section sure, but where do you think they come from and what do you think they cause when then do interact with matter? When you have a hot enough reactor, which is what the sun is, enough get put out for some to interact. And their sig is monkeying with weak force reaction rates.

But if the chances of a neutrino striking even one atom in a given sample of matter are so enormous, how can we conclude that they can consistently be responsible for altering the decay rates of the two elements mentioned in the article?

BTW: I found this interesting tidbit below on how many of these invisible little critters are passing through us every second.

"Neutrinos are generated by nuclear reactions, such as those that occur in the sun or in nuclear reactors. Most come from the sun: More than 50 trillion solar neutrinos pass through the human body every second, but they are extremely difficult to detect because they have no charge and a mass so tiny it has never been measured."
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2007/neutrino.html

50 posted on 09/02/2008 9:30:12 PM PDT by ETL (Smoking-gun evidence on all the ObamaRat-Commie connections at my FR Profile/Home page)
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