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  • Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

    If this is true, massive theoretical as well as real life implications.

    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/a...un-082310.html

    It's a mystery that presented itself unexpectedly: The radioactive decay of some elements sitting quietly in laboratories on Earth seemed to be influenced by activities inside the sun, 93 million miles away.

    Is this possible?

    Researchers from Stanford and Purdue University believe it is. But their explanation of how it happens opens the door to yet another mystery.

    There is even an outside chance that this unexpected effect is brought about by a previously unknown particle emitted by the sun. "That would be truly remarkable," said Peter Sturrock, Stanford professor emeritus of applied physics and an expert on the inner workings of the sun.

    The story begins, in a sense, in classrooms around the world, where students are taught that the rate of decay of a specific radioactive material is a constant. This concept is relied upon, for example, when anthropologists use carbon-14 to date ancient artifacts and when doctors determine the proper dose of radioactivity to treat a cancer patient.

    Random numbers

    But that assumption was challenged in an unexpected way by a group of researchers from Purdue University who at the time were more interested in random numbers than nuclear decay. (Scientists use long strings of random numbers for a variety of calculations, but they are difficult to produce, since the process used to produce the numbers has an influence on the outcome.)

    Ephraim Fischbach, a physics professor at Purdue, was looking into the rate of radioactive decay of several isotopes as a possible source of random numbers generated without any human input. (A lump of radioactive cesium-137, for example, may decay at a steady rate overall, but individual atoms within the lump will decay in an unpredictable, random pattern. Thus the timing of the random ticks of a Geiger counter placed near the cesium might be used to generate random numbers.)

    As the researchers pored through published data on specific isotopes, they found disagreement in the measured decay rates – odd for supposed physical constants.

    Checking data collected at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island and the Federal Physical and Technical Institute in Germany, they came across something even more surprising: long-term observation of the decay rate of silicon-32 and radium-226 seemed to show a small seasonal variation. The decay rate was ever so slightly faster in winter than in summer.

    Was this fluctuation real, or was it merely a glitch in the equipment used to measure the decay, induced by the change of seasons, with the accompanying changes in temperature and humidity?

    "Everyone thought it must be due to experimental mistakes, because we're all brought up to believe that decay rates are constant," Sturrock said.

    The sun speaks

    On Dec 13, 2006, the sun itself provided a crucial clue, when a solar flare sent a stream of particles and radiation toward Earth. Purdue nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins, while measuring the decay rate of manganese-54, a short-lived isotope used in medical diagnostics, noticed that the rate dropped slightly during the flare, a decrease that started about a day and a half before the flare.

    If this apparent relationship between flares and decay rates proves true, it could lead to a method of predicting solar flares prior to their occurrence, which could help prevent damage to satellites and electric grids, as well as save the lives of astronauts in space.

    The decay-rate aberrations that Jenkins noticed occurred during the middle of the night in Indiana – meaning that something produced by the sun had traveled all the way through the Earth to reach Jenkins' detectors. What could the flare send forth that could have such an effect?

    Jenkins and Fischbach guessed that the culprits in this bit of decay-rate mischief were probably solar neutrinos, the almost weightless particles famous for flying at almost the speed of light through the physical world – humans, rocks, oceans or planets – with virtually no interaction with anything.

    Then, in a series of papers published in Astroparticle Physics, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research and Space Science Reviews, Jenkins, Fischbach and their colleagues showed that the observed variations in decay rates were highly unlikely to have come from environmental influences on the detection systems.

    Reason for suspicion

    Their findings strengthened the argument that the strange swings in decay rates were caused by neutrinos from the sun. The swings seemed to be in synch with the Earth's elliptical orbit, with the decay rates oscillating as the Earth came closer to the sun (where it would be exposed to more neutrinos) and then moving away.

    So there was good reason to suspect the sun, but could it be proved?

    Enter Peter Sturrock, Stanford professor emeritus of applied physics and an expert on the inner workings of the sun. While on a visit to the National Solar Observatory in Arizona, Sturrock was handed copies of the scientific journal articles written by the Purdue researchers.

    Sturrock knew from long experience that the intensity of the barrage of neutrinos the sun continuously sends racing toward Earth varies on a regular basis as the sun itself revolves and shows a different face, like a slower version of the revolving light on a police car. His advice to Purdue: Look for evidence that the changes in radioactive decay on Earth vary with the rotation of the sun. "That's what I suggested. And that's what we have done."

    A surprise

    Going back to take another look at the decay data from the Brookhaven lab, the researchers found a recurring pattern of 33 days. It was a bit of a surprise, given that most solar observations show a pattern of about 28 days – the rotation rate of the surface of the sun.

    The explanation? The core of the sun – where nuclear reactions produce neutrinos – apparently spins more slowly than the surface we see. "It may seem counter-intuitive, but it looks as if the core rotates more slowly than the rest of the sun," Sturrock said.

    All of the evidence points toward a conclusion that the sun is "communicating" with radioactive isotopes on Earth, said Fischbach.

    But there's one rather large question left unanswered. No one knows how neutrinos could interact with radioactive materials to change their rate of decay.

    "It doesn't make sense according to conventional ideas," Fischbach said. Jenkins whimsically added, "What we're suggesting is that something that doesn't really interact with anything is changing something that can't be changed."

    "It's an effect that no one yet understands," agreed Sturrock. "Theorists are starting to say, 'What's going on?' But that's what the evidence points to. It's a challenge for the physicists and a challenge for the solar people too."

    If the mystery particle is not a neutrino, "It would have to be something we don't know about, an unknown particle that is also emitted by the sun and has this effect, and that would be even more remarkable," Sturrock said.

  • #2
    Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

    Thanks, it is very interesting.
    It is amazing how life and science continue on, even when the economy is the most important thing in the universe.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

      Way cool - thanks for posting, c1ue.
      Most folks are good; a few aren't.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

        Here is a related paper - all very interesting work!

        Thanks C1ue.

        Evidence for Correlations Between Nuclear Decay Rates and Earth-Sun Distance

        Jere H. Jenkins,1 Ephraim Fischbach,1, ∗ John B. Buncher,1 John
        T. Gruenwald,1 Dennis E. Krause,1, 2 and Joshua J. Mattes

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

        Physics Department, Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, 47933, USA
        (Dated: August 25, 2008)

        Unexplained periodic fluctuations in the decay rates of 32Si and 226Ra have been reported
        by groups at Brookhaven National Laboratory (32Si), and at the Physikalisch-Technische-
        Bundesandstalt in Germany (226Ra). 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.
        <end snip>
        If necessity is the mother of invention, desperation is the father...

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

          Physicists of the world, relax. The fundamental foundations of all your work have not flown out the window. Instead, this article discusses the findings and brings up some significant problems with the research.

          This discussion is based on this article http://arxiv.org/abs/0808.3283 which has gotten considerable exposure in the popular press.

          For the following discussion you need to understand that an Astromical Unit (AU) is the mean distance from the Earth to the Sun (92 million miles, more or less). The quick and dirty explanation for the phenomenon involves neutrino densities changing between the summer (1.0167103335 AU) and winter ( 0.9832898912 AU) orbital distance from the Earth to the Sun. It may not hold water considering that the decay law seems to hold just fine for the Cassini spacecraft as it moves from .7 to 1.6 AU . So, no change was observed with such a large change in distance from the sun.
          from http://arxiv.org/abs/0809.4248 Data from the power output of the radioisotope thermoelectric generators aboard the Cassini spacecraft are used to test the conjecture that small deviations observed in terrestrial measurements of the exponential radioactive decay law are correlated with the Earth-Sun distance. No significant deviations from exponential decay are observed over a range of 0.7 - 1.6 A.U. A 90% Cl upper limit of 0.84 x 10^-4 is set on a term in the decay rate of Pu-238 proportional to 1/R^2 and 0.99 x 10^-4 for a term proportional to 1/R.
          The more likely explanation (from Cramer) is that the time base used to measure radioactive decay changed with seasonal temperatures in the lab, as the crystal that set the timing standard expanded and shrunk with lab temperatures. Sadly, nobody will distribute the truth as widely as the fiction.

          Interested people can watch as this topic comes back periodically to substantiate a claim that even in particle physics, there is controversy in the basic science. Heck, maybe there is even a conspiracy behind it. Who knows.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

            Originally posted by ggirod
            Physicists of the world, relax. The fundamental foundations of all your work have not flown out the window. Instead, this article discusses the findings and brings up some significant problems with the research.
            The paper quoted is interesting, but it tests specifically only for distance.

            If indeed the actual mechanism is something else like the neutrino flux, then the paper simply doesn't speak to this possibility as distance to the sun is not a proxy for neutrino flux.

            The orbit examined is also odd - a generic overall number is computed for a trip inward to 0.7 A.U. (2 Venus flybys) plus the trip outward to 1.6 A.U.

            Given that Cassini is now well past Saturn, it would seem an examination of the power system's output - adjusted for possible temperature changes and from the 1 A.U. point to its present and also adjusted for season and/or neutrino flux - would be more thorough.

            The Cramer paper is also interesting - but it is unclear to me how laboratory temperatures vary but the Cassini satellite's temperatures do not? The Venus to 1.6x Earth orbit variation is quite large and would encompass a far wider ambient solar change than the seasonal temperature changes inside a laboratory.

            Lastly a more detailed examination of the Cassini power system would also have been nice.

            The functioning of RTGs is based on the Seebeck effect, and this in turn is temperature dependent. As far as I can see - the assumption made is that the temperature difference is constant. This is not a safe assumption given the large solar flux difference between 0.7 A.U. and 1.6 A.U.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

              The study in question proposed a seasonal cause for varying decay rates based on the varying density of solar neutrinos with seasonal orbital distances. Neutrinos from the sun start out very dense near the sun and then then spread out into the volume of space surrounding it, becoming less dense with distance. Hence at .7AU the density of neutrinos should have been much greater than that at 1.6AU so were they the cause, their effect on decay in the craft's generator should have been measurable. No difference was found.

              I guess first, for the non science readers interested in the topic, a brief discussion of neutrinos might be in order. Our local source of neutrinos is the sun whose fusion produces incomprehensible numbers of neutrinos that then fly off near the speed of light radially outward from it. By the time they get to Earth, they are considerably less dense, of course. As you look at your thumbnail, sixty billion neutrinos are passing through it each second. That's 600 trillion neutrinos per square meter. Bigger than a square meter, and the numbers get really huge.

              Something that numerous, one would think, would be simple to measure. However, neutrinos don't interact with anything very much at all. Not only are they not interactive, they are tiny. They simply pass through matter like it was mostly vacuum (it is) and only rarely do they hit something. Consequently, direct measures of neutrino flux are challenging and making a "trap" to catch and detect one is difficult. For example, this detector measures light produced when neutrinos slow down from the speed of light in free space to the slower speed in heavy water.
              The new Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) consists of a 1000 metric ton bottle of heavy water suspended in a larger tank of light water. The apparatus is located in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada at a depth of about 2 km down in a nickel mine. A 18 m diameter geodesic array of 9,500 photomultiplier tubes surrounds the heavy water to detect Cerenkov radiation from the neutrino interaction ...
              This apparatus detects neutrinos with its huge volume and rigorous isolation. Neutrinos associated with supernovae events are detected planet-wide in similar detectors. However, only with extraordinary techniques are neutrinos measurable at all.

              distance to the sun is not a proxy for neutrino flux.
              The author of the original article in question is proposing exactly that. He is proposing that the assumed solar neutrino flux varies with winter/summer orbital distances. That is how he chooses to explain his measured differences in decay rates.

              For those interested a good calculation for neutron flux is available here. Measured in neutrinos per square meter per second, the number of square meters in the surface of a larger radius is greater, the neutrinos constant, so the flux is a function of radius.

              The Cramer paper is also interesting - but it is unclear to me how laboratory temperatures vary but the Cassini satellite's temperatures do not?
              Laboratory temperatures were not cited as impacting the actual rate of decay, but as a possible source of seasonal variation in the measurement of decay. A piezoelectric crystal time base would deliver longer and shorter "seconds" as its crystal expands and contracts with laboratory temperatures. Temperature change was thus identified as a source of measurement error influencing the numbers from the lab. Were decay rate to be influenced by surrounding temperature, it would not have evaded physicists this long.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

                Originally posted by ggirod
                Hence at .7AU the density of neutrinos should have been much greater than that at 1.6AU so were they the cause, their effect on decay in the craft's generator should have been measurable.
                All things being equal, this would be a correct statement.

                However, all things are not equal as I will demonstrate below.

                Originally posted by ggirod
                The author of the original article in question is proposing exactly that. He is proposing that the assumed solar neutrino flux varies with winter/summer orbital distances. That is how he chooses to explain his measured differences in decay rates.
                I beg to differ. I read the article in question - the word 'neutrino' never appeared at all.

                The article spoke only to distance from the sun.

                And the distance from the sun is NOT a proxy for neutrino flux; the original article specifically mentioned that one of the impeti for investigation was a solar flare which increased background neutrino flux and which in turn coincided with changes in rates of decay.

                Therefore the assumption that the neutrino flux emitted by the sun is constant is wrong.

                The assumption that solar system neutrino flux is purely a function of distance from the sun thus is equally wrong.

                Also the proxy used is power from radioactive decay via thermoelectric conversion.

                Thermoelectric conversion is dependent on temperature. Since ambient temperature in space varies with the distance to the sun - and is furthermore additive to the supposed neutrino effect (i.e. further distance = lower background temperature = higher base thermoelectric conversion vs. further distance = fewer neutrinos = faster rate of decay hence higher thermoelectric conversion) - thus a failure to also account for theoretically possible temperature differences affecting power output is also problematic for the 'disproof'.

                Originally posted by ggirod
                Laboratory temperatures were not cited as impacting the actual rate of decay, but as a possible source of seasonal variation in the measurement of decay. A piezoelectric crystal time base would deliver longer and shorter "seconds" as its crystal expands and contracts with laboratory temperatures. Temperature change was thus identified as a source of measurement error influencing the numbers from the lab. Were decay rate to be influenced by surrounding temperature, it would not have evaded physicists this long.
                You failed to read my post correctly.

                I never stated that temperatures affected rate of decay.

                What I stated was that it is problematic to say that seasonal temperature variations in a lab - perhaps 10 degrees Celsius max = 3.5% variation max - when the solar radiation variability between 0.7 A.U. and 1.6 A.U. is much greater (15800%+ between Venus and Saturn, 523% between Venus and Mars)

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunlight

                PlanetPerihelion - Aphelion
                distance (AU)Solar radiation
                maximum and minimum
                (W/m˛)Mercury0.3075 – 0.466714,446 – 6,272Venus0.7184 – 0.72822,647 – 2,576Earth0.9833 – 1.0171,413 – 1,321Mars1.382 – 1.666715 – 492Jupiter4.950 – 5.45855.8 – 45.9Saturn9.048 – 10.1216.7 – 13.4
                Or in other words, why isn't there SOME variability with distance to sun?

                Secondly the seasonal lab temperature variation - even were it true - does not explain the behavior in relation to both the solar flare mentioned in the article nor does it explain the 33 day periodicity.

                The paper in question only shows that there seems to be no relationship between distance to the sun and rates of decay, and is furthermore problematic due to failure to account for major potential sources of alternate effects (temperature)
                Last edited by c1ue; 08-25-10, 11:34 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

                  Update on decay rate variability. One criticism listed is far more cogent:

                  that the data sources were not directly measured by the scientists in question

                  The others aren't being mostly variants of straw man disproofs.

                  Over time and with openness and duplicability/lack of duplicability, the facts will be revealed.

                  http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80...g-with-matter/

                  The sun is breaking the known rules of physics—so said headlines that made the rounds of the Web this week.
                  That claim from a release out about a new study by researchers Jere Jenkins and Ephraim Fischbach of Purdue, and Peter Sturrock of Stanford. The work suggests that the rates of radioactive decay in isotopes—thought to be a constant, and used to date archaeological objects—could vary oh-so-slightly, and interaction with neutrinos from the sun could be the cause. Neutrinos are those neutral particles that pass through matter and rarely interact with it; trillions of neutrinos are thought to pass through your body every second.
                  In the release itself, the researchers say that it’s a wild idea: “‘It doesn’t make sense according to conventional ideas,’ Fischbach said. Jenkins whimsically added, ‘What we’re suggesting is that something that doesn’t really interact with anything is changing something that can’t be changed.’”
                  Could it possibly be true? I consulted with Gregory Sullivan, professor and associate chair of physics at the University of Maryland who formerly did some of his neutrino research at the Super-Kamiokande detector in Japan, and with physicist Eric Adelberger of the University of Washington.
                  “My gut reaction is one of skepticism,” Sullivan told DISCOVER. The idea isn’t impossible, he says, but you can’t accept a solution as radical as the new study’s with just the small data set the researchers have. “Data is data. That’s the final arbiter. But the more one has to bend [well-establish physics], the evidence has to be that much more scrutinized.”
                  Among the reasons Sullivan cited for his skepticism after reading the papers:
                  • Many of the tiny variations that the study authors saw in radioactive decay rates came from labs like Brookhaven National Lab—the researchers didn’t take the readings themselves. And, Sullivan says, some are multiple decades old. In their paper, Fischbach’s team takes care to try to rule out variations in the equipment or environmental conditions that could have caused the weird changes they saw in decay rates. But, Sullivan says, “they’re people 30 years later [studying] equipment they weren’t running. I don’t think they rule it out.”
                  • The Purdue-Stanford team cites an example of a 2006 solar flare, saying that they saw a dip in decay rates in a manganese isotope before the occurrence that lasted until after it was gone. Sullivan, however, says he isn’t convinced this is experimentally significant, and anyway it doesn’t make sense: Solar neutrinos emanate from the interior of the sun—not the surface, where flares emerge. Moreover, he says, other solar events like x-ray flares didn’t have the same effect.
                  • If it were true, the idea would represent a huge jump in neutrino physics. At the Super-Kamiokande detector, Sullivan says only about 10 neutrinos per day appeared to interact with the 20 kilotons of water. Sullivan says the Purdue-Stanford team is proposing that neutrinos are powerfully interacting with matter in a way that has never before been observed. “They’re looking for something with a very much larger effect than the force of neutrinos, but that doesn’t show up any other way,” he says.
                  Fischbach and Jenkins, who have published a series of journal articles supporting their theory on neutrinos and radioactive decay, emailed DISCOVER to respond to these criticisms of their work. Regarding the first one, the researchers defended the integrity of the data even though they didn’t take it themselves, saying the experiments “were carried out by two well-known and experienced groups. We have published an analysis of these experiments, in Nuclear Instruments and Methods … showing that the potential impact of known environmental effects is much too small to explain the annual variations.”
                  And in response to number two—why would you tie neutrinos to a flare, when they emanate from the sun’s interior?—Jenkins and Fischbach write that we know some flares are tied to events deep inside the sun. “We therefore consider it possible that events in the core may influence flares,” they write, “but this remains to be established. We have never claimed that all flares are related to events in the core.”
                  The big one, though, is number three: are we really seeing some kind of physics never seen before? Fischbach and Jenkins don’t back off:
                  “We agree that, according to current theory of the standard weak interaction, neutrinos should not be influencing decay rates. We also agree that Super-Kamiokande data are not anomalous. Our position is that either neutrinos have properties we do not yet understand, or some other particle or field behaving like neutrinos is influencing decay rates. In slightly more detail, we are not considering neutrino capture as in the case of Super-K. Rather we work in a picture where neutrinos pass through the sample of decaying nuclei, as they pass through everything else, and exchange an energy on the order of 10-100 eV. Given the sensitivity of beta decays and electron capture to the energy available, the exchange of a small amount of energy in this way could be sufficient to explain the observed effects.”
                  But for Adelberger of the University of Washington, that is still a huge jump based on what the studies have seen. Adelberger tells DISCOVER that he thinks the variation in decay that the labs like Brookhaven picked up is real. But he agrees with Sullivan that the effect is much more likely to come from a problem with the instruments than some new physics from the sun. He also points to studies over the last couple years (here and here) that show no link between the sun and radioactive decay rates.
                  Both Adelberger and Sullivan agreed that the Purdue-Stanford findings pave the way to some interesting—and more carefully controlled—research to verify or falsify the idea. But for now, neither is a believer.
                  “The scenarios Fischbach et. al. invoke to support their interpretations despite contrary data are getting bizarre,” Adelberger tells DISCOVER. “I think it is unlikely to be correct.”

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

                    I just watched the first half of the movie 2012 --> The planet falls apart because of neutrinos from the sun. HA HA HA --> That is why this stuff is in the news. Movie promotion! and Fear!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

                      An experiment directly correlating neutrino flux and radioactive decay - showing that if the variation is real, it would not seem to be due to neutrino flux:

                      Real science in action...

                      http://www.nist.gov/cstl/analytical/14c_091410.cfm

                      Recent puzzling observations of tiny variations in nuclear decay rates have led some to question the science of using decay rates to determine the relative ages of rocks and organic materials. Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), working with researchers from Purdue University, the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Wabash College, tested the hypothesis that solar radiation might affect the rate at which radioactive elements decay and found no detectable effect.
                      Radioactive elements transmute into more stable materials by shooting off particles at a steady rate. For instance, half the mass of carbon-14, an unstable isotope of carbon, will decay into nitrogen-14 over a period of 5,730 years. Archaeologists routinely use radiometric dating to determine the age of materials such as ancient campfires and mammoth teeth.
                      ©Zoltan Pataki/courtesy Shutterstock

                      Atoms of radioactive isotopes are unstable and decay over time by shooting off particles at a fixed rate, transmuting the material into a more stable substance. For instance, half the mass of carbon-14, an unstable isotope of carbon, will decay into nitrogen-14 over a period of 5,730 years. The unswerving regularity of this decay allows scientists to determine the age of extremely old organic materials—such as remains of Paleolithic campfires—with a fair degree of precision. The decay of uranium-238, which has a half-life of nearly 4.5 billion years, enabled geologists to determine the age of the Earth.
                      Many scientists, including Marie and Pierre Curie, Ernest Rutherford and George de Hevesy, have attempted to influence the rate of radioactive decay by radically changing the pressure, temperature, magnetic field, acceleration, or radiation environment of the source. No experiment to date has detected any change in rates of decay.
                      Recently, however, researchers at Purdue University observed a small (a fraction of a percent), transitory deviation in radioactive decay at the time of a huge solar flare. Data from laboratories in New York and Germany also have shown similarly tiny deviations over the course of a year. This has led some to suggest that Earth’s distance from the sun, which varies during the year and affects the planet’s exposure to solar neutrinos, might be related to these anomalies.
                      Researchers from NIST and Purdue tested this by comparing radioactive gold-198 in two shapes, spheres and thin foils, with the same mass and activity. Gold-198 releases neutrinos as it decays. The team reasoned that if neutrinos are affecting the decay rate, the atoms in the spheres should decay more slowly than the atoms in the foil because the neutrinos emitted by the atoms in the spheres would have a greater chance of interacting with their neighboring atoms. The maximum neutrino flux in the sample in their experiments was several times greater than the flux of neutrinos from the sun. The researchers followed the gamma-ray emission rate of each source for several weeks and found no difference between the decay rate of the spheres and the corresponding foils.
                      According to NIST scientist emeritus Richard Lindstrom, the variations observed in other experiments may have been due to environmental conditions interfering with the instruments themselves.
                      “There are always more unknowns in your measurements than you can think of,” Lindstrom says.
                      * R.M. Lindstrom, E. Fischbach, J.B. Buncher, G.L. Greene, J.H. Jenkins, D.E. Krause, J.J. Mattes and A. Yue. Study of the dependence of 198Au half-life on source geometry. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment. doi:10.1016/j.nima.2010.06.270

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

                        Science to the rescue. Lindstrom, et. al. found in the lab what was also found in the interplanetary radioactive decay data I cited....

                        According to NIST scientist emeritus Richard Lindstrom, the variations observed in other experiments may have been due to environmental conditions interfering with the instruments themselves.
                        Which found something quite similar to this from my previous post.
                        The more likely explanation (from Cramer) is that the time base used to measure radioactive decay changed with seasonal temperatures in the lab, as the crystal that set the timing standard expanded and shrunk with lab temperatures.
                        The good thing about real science is that truth is distilled from the preponderance of evidence, from people around the world measuring phenomena different ways with different equipment and methods, and finding similar results. Over-interpretation of anecdotal evidence, particularly when it runs counter to long standing scientific consensus, is generally not adequate to discredit established science or announce new astounding findings. I like this quote ...
                        “There are always more unknowns in your measurements than you can think of,” Lindstrom says.
                        Or, to quote Carl Sagan,
                        Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence
                        Last edited by ggirod; 09-28-10, 08:25 AM. Reason: added quote

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

                          It is fascinating to watch real science play out.
                          Thanks for the post, c1ue, and for the insightful comments, ggirod.

                          When we investigate subtle phenomenon at the edges of our understanding it can take years for a solid consensus to arrive. Though I have absolutely no expertise in this field, I suspect the time-base explanation is nearer the truth. I know that the measuring tools used in this kind of advanced work are often complex instruments, custom-made and one-of-a-kind, and many surpising early test results are found later to be either errrors in these ghastly complex instruments or some failure to isolate outside influences that are themselves barely measureable.

                          People who have never been involved in hard science seem to find this lack of instant certainty alarming.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

                            Originally posted by ggirod
                            The good thing about real science is that truth is distilled from the preponderance of evidence, from people around the world measuring phenomena different ways with different equipment and methods, and finding similar results. Over-interpretation of anecdotal evidence, particularly when it runs counter to long standing scientific consensus, is generally not adequate to discredit established science or announce new astounding findings. I like this quote ...
                            Certainly true.

                            That's why real science looks at the facts - whether convenient or not.

                            Equally so criticisms should be factual and speak to the hypothesis.

                            The previous paper did not - it merely spoke to one specific aspect, whereas this NIST proof is much more relevant.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Particles which don't interact with anything apparently affecting physics constants (i.e. not constant)

                              Follow up on the original commentary: it appears there is substantial empirical evidence - including reproduction of results - validating the original experimental evidence.

                              Besides Purdue and Stanford, the Air Force, Mayo Clinic, and Ohio State have also chimed in. Other notes: the evidence seems to point towards neutrinos as the effect is consistent with the Earth's distance from the Sun at different points during the year/orbit, as well as other features of the Sun including the Sun's rotation.

                              http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/relea...e-warning.html

                              WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Researchers may have discovered a new method to predict solar flares more than a day before they occur, providing advance warning to help protect satellites, power grids and astronauts from potentially dangerous radiation.

                              The system works by measuring differences in gamma radiation emitted when atoms in radioactive elements "decay," or lose energy. This rate of decay is widely believed to be constant, but recent findings challenge that long-accepted rule.

                              The new detection technique is based on a hypothesis that radioactive decay rates are influenced by solar activity, possibly streams of subatomic particles called solar neutrinos. This influence can wax and wane due to seasonal changes in the Earth's distance from the sun and also during solar flares, according to the hypothesis, which is supported with data published in a dozen research papers since it was proposed in 2006, said Ephraim Fischbach, a Purdue University professor of physics.

                              Fischbach and Jere Jenkins, a nuclear engineer and director of radiation laboratories in the School of Nuclear Engineering, are leading research to study the phenomenon and possibly develop a new warning system. Jenkins, monitoring a detector in his lab in 2006, discovered that the decay rate of a radioactive sample changed slightly beginning 39 hours before a large solar flare.

                              Since then, researchers have been examining similar variation in decay rates before solar flares, as well as those resulting from Earth's orbit around the sun and changes in solar rotation and activity. The new findings appeared online last weekin the journal Astroparticle Physics.

                              "It's the first time the same isotope has been used in two different experiments at two different labs, and it showed basically the same effect," Fischbach said. The paper was authored by Jenkins and Fischbach; Ohio State University researchers Kevin R. Herminghuysen, Thomas E. Blue, Andrew C. Kauffman and Joseph W. Talnagi; U.S. Air Force researcher Daniel Javorsek; Mayo Clinic researcher Daniel W. Mundy; and Stanford University researcher Peter A. Sturrock.

                              Data were recorded during routine weekly calibration of an instrument used for radiological safety at Ohio State's research reactor. Findings showed a clear annual variation in the decay rate of a radioactive isotope called chlorine 36, with the highest rate in January and February and the lowest rate in July and August, over a period from July 2005 to June 2011.

                              The new observations support previous work by Jenkins and Fischbach to develop a method for predicting solar flares. Advance warning could allow satellite and power grid operators to take steps to minimize impact and astronauts to shield themselves from potentially lethal radiation emitted during solar storms.

                              The findings agree with data previously collected at the Brookhaven National Laboratory regarding the decay rate of chlorine 36; changes in the decay rate were found to match changes in the Earth-sun distance and Earth's exposure to different parts of the sun itself, Fischbach said.

                              Large solar flares may produce a "coronal mass ejection" of highly energetic particles, which can interact with the Earth's magnetosphere, triggering geomagnetic storms that sometimes knock out power. The sun's activity is expected to peak over the next year or so as part of an 11-year cycle that could bring strong solar storms.
                              Solar storms can be especially devastating if the flare happens to be aimed at the Earth, hitting the planet directly with powerful charged particles. A huge solar storm, called the Carrington event, hit the Earth in 1859, a time when the only electrical infrastructure consisted of telegraph lines.

                              "There was so much energy from this solar storm that the telegraph wires were seen glowing and the aurora borealis appeared as far south as Cuba," Fischbach said. "Because we now have a sophisticated infrastructure of satellites, power grids and all sort of electronic systems, a storm of this magnitude today would be catastrophic. Having a day and a half warning could be really helpful in averting the worst damage."
                              Satellites, for example, might be designed so that they could be temporarily shut down and power grids might similarly be safeguarded before the storm arrived.
                              Researchers have recorded data during 10 solar flares since 2006, seeing the same pattern.

                              "We have repeatedly seen a precursor signal preceding a solar flare," Fischbach said. "We think this has predictive value."

                              The Purdue experimental setup consists of a radioactive source - manganese 54 - and a gamma-radiation detector. As the manganese 54 decays, it turns into chromium 54, emitting a gamma ray, which is recorded by the detector to measure the decay rate.

                              Purdue has filed a U.S. patent application for the concept.

                              Research findings show evidence that the phenomenon is influenced by the Earth's distance from the sun; for example, decay rates are different in January and July, when the Earth is closest and farthest from the sun, respectively.

                              "When the Earth is farther away, we have fewer solar neutrinos and the decay rate is a little slower," Jenkins said. "When we are closer, there are more neutrinos, and the decay a little faster."

                              Researchers also have recorded both increases and decreases in decay rates during solar storms.

                              "What this is telling us is that the sun does influence radioactive decay," Fischbach said.

                              Neutrinos have the least mass of any known subatomic particle, yet it is plausible that they are somehow affecting the decay rate, he said.

                              Physicist Ernest Rutherford, known as the father of nuclear physics, in the 1930s conducted experiments indicating the radioactive decay rate is constant, meaning it cannot be altered by external influences.

                              "Since neutrinos have essentially no mass or charge, the idea that they could be interacting with anything is foreign to physics," Jenkins said. "So, we are saying something that doesn't interact with anything is changing something that can't be changed. Either neutrinos are affecting decay rate or perhaps an unknown particle is."
                              Jenkins discovered the effect by chance in 2006, when he was watching television coverage of astronauts spacewalking at the International Space Station. A solar flare had erupted and was thought to possibly pose a threat to the astronauts. He decided to check his equipment and discovered that a change in decay-rate had preceded the solar flare.

                              Further research is needed to confirm the findings and to expand the work using more sensitive equipment, he said.

                              Jenkins and Fischbach have previously collaborated with Peter Sturrock, a professor emeritus of applied physics at Stanford University and an expert on the inner workings of the sun, toexamine data collected at Brookhaven on the decay rate of radioactive isotopes silicon-32 and chlorine-36. The team reported in 2010 in Astroparticle Physics that the decay rate for both isotopes varies in a 33-day recurring pattern, which they attribute to the rotation rate of the sun's core.

                              The group found evidence of the same annual and 33-day effect in radium-226 data taken at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Braunschweig, Germany, and those findings were published in 2011. They also found an additional 154-day recurring pattern in both the Brookhaven and PTB data, published in 2011, which they believe to be solar related and similar to a known solar effect called a Rieger periodicity.

                              Writer:
                              Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu
                              Sources: Ephraim Fischbach, 765-494-5506, ephraim@purdue.edu
                              Jere Jenkins, 765-496-3573, jere@purdue.edu
                              Note to Journalists: An electronic copy of the research paper is available online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...512001442?v=s5 or from Emil Venere at 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu.


                              ABSTRACT

                              Additional Experimental Evidence for a Solar Influence on Nuclear Decay Rates


                              Jere H. Jenkins a,b,*, Kevin R. Herminghuysen c, Thomas E. Blue c, Ephraim Fischbach b, Daniel Javorsek II d, Andrew C. Kauffman c, Daniel W. Mundy e, Peter A. Sturrock f, Joseph W. Talnagi c


                              A
                              School of Nuclear Engineering, Purdue University
                              b
                              Department of Physics, Purdue University
                              c
                              Ohio State University Research Reactor
                              d
                              412th Test Wing, Edwards AFB
                              e
                              Department of Radiation Oncology Physics, Mayo Clinic
                              f
                              Center for Space Science and Astrophysics, Stanford University


                              Additional experimental evidence is presented in support of the recent hypothesis that a possible solar influence could explain fluctuations observed in the measured decay rates of some isotopes. These data were obtained during routine weekly calibrations of an instrument used for radiological safety at the Ohio State University Research Reactor using 36Cl. The detector system used was based on a Geiger-Müller gas detector, which is a robust detector system with very low susceptibility to environmental changes. A clear annual variation is evident in the data, with a maximum relative count rate observed in January/February, and a minimum relative count rate observed in July/August, for seven successive years from July 2005 to June 2011. This annual variation is not likely to have arisen from changes in the detector surroundings, as we show here.

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