The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Science! The Sun Appears To Affect Radioactive Decay...

...This may change the way we look at everything!

     The radioactive decay of some elements sitting quietly in laboratories on Earth seems to be influenced by activities inside the sun, 93 million miles away.

     It is taken as given that a radioactive isotope will decay at a fixed rate. A lot of scientific models, up to the age of the dinosaurs, are derived from this assumption. Now it seems that the proximity of the sun and solar activity such as sunspots may affect the rate of atomic decay. There is no known mechanism that can explain this. 

     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.

     Jenkins and and a colleague 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.

     I invite my quantum physicist and astrophysicist friends to comment.

                                   Be seeing you

     Source: Stanford News

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