Wierd: Is the sun emitting a mystery particle?

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fazers_on_stun

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From http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38863989/ns/technology_and_science-science/:

Is the sun emitting a mystery particle?
Previously unknown particle may be meddling with decay rates of matter

What if a well-known — and apparently constant — characteristic of matter starts behaving mysteriously?

This is exactly what has been noticed in recent years; the decay rates of radioactive elements are changing. This is especially mysterious as we are talking about elements with "constant" decay rates — these values aren't supposed to change, school textbooks teach us this from an early age.

This is the conclusion that researchers from Stanford and Purdue University have arrived at, but the only explanation they have is even weirder than the phenomenon itself: the sun might be emitting a previously unknown particle that is meddling with the decay rates of matter. Or, at the very least, we are seeing some new physics.

Many fields of science depend on measuring constant decay rates. For example, to accurately date ancient artifacts, archaeologists measure the quantity of carbon-14 found inside organic samples at dig sites. This is a technique known as carbon dating.

Carbon-14 has a very defined half-life of 5730 years, i.e., it takes 5730 years for half of a sample of carbon-14 to radioactively decay into stable nitrogen-14. Through spectroscopic analysis of the ancient organic sample, by finding out what proportion of carbon-14 remains, we can accurately calculate how old it is.

But as you can see, carbon dating makes one huge assumption: radioactive decay rates remain constant and always have been constant. If this new finding is proven to be correct, even if the impact is small, it will throw the science community into a spin.

Interestingly, researchers at Purdue first noticed something awry when they were using radioactive samples for random number generation. Each decay event occurs randomly (hence the white noise you'd hear from a Geiger counter), so radioactive samples provide a non-biased random number generator.

However, when they compared their measurements with other scientists' work, the values of the published decay rates were not the same. In fact, after further research they found that not only were they not constant, but they'd vary with the seasons. Decay rates would slightly decrease during the summer and increase during the winter.

Experimental error and environmental conditions have all been ruled out — the decay rates are changing throughout the year in a predictable pattern. And there seems to be only one answer.

As the Earth is closer to the sun during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere (our planet's orbit is slightly eccentric, or elongated), could the sun be influencing decay rates?

In another moment of weirdness, Purdue nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins noticed an inexplicable drop in the decay rate of manganese-54 when he was testing it one night in 2006. It so happened that this drop occurred just over a day before a large flare erupted on the sun.

Did the sun somehow "communicate" with the manganese-54 sample? If it did, something from the sun would have had to travel through the Earth (as the sample was on the far side of our planet from the sun at the time) unhindered.

The sun link was made even stronger when Peter Sturrock, Stanford professor emeritus of applied physics, suggested that the Purdue scientists look for other recurring patterns in decay rates. As an expert of the inner workings of the sun, Sturrock had a hunch that solar neutrinos might hold the key to this mystery.

Sure enough, the researchers noticed the decay rates vary repeatedly every 33 days — a period of time that matches the rotational period of the core of the sun. The solar core is the source of solar neutrinos.

It may all sound rather circumstantial, but these threads of evidence appear to lead to a common source of the radioactive decay rate variation. But there's a huge problem with speculation that solar neutrinos could impact decay rates on Earth: neutrinos aren't supposed to work like that.

Neutrinos, born from the nuclear processes in the core of the sun, are ghostly particles. They can literally pass through the Earth unhindered as they so weakly interacting. How could such a quantum welterweight have any measurable impact on radioactive samples in the lab?

In short, nobody knows.

If neutrinos are the culprits, it means we are falling terribly short of understanding the true nature of these subatomic particles. But if (and this is a big if) neutrinos aren't to blame, is the sun generating an as-yet to be discovered particle?
IIRC it was some bogus solar neutrinos responsible for frying the Earth in the movie 2012 - could they have been right?? :eek:
 

JAYDEEJOHN

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OK, thats it.
Ive been saying this for years, battling the global warming people as well as all those people who think dinosauers are birds, and its billions and billions of years old etc etc

Im not kidding, theres evidence of this on some old Toms threads.Unfortunately, what this does is put all these theories into the grayer area of theories, relying on even more dubious "fact" as decay rates.
This was found recently, and who knows how different they were years ago?
We all know what happens when we "assume" things, and science has been doing this very thing from the begining.
Thanks for finding this, as many of my friends will now once again be getting a mouthful from me, links included

One example is the "decay" or assumed decay of CO2 in ancient ice, thus emmissions reported from again assumed X amount of years, from the CO2 found in that ice, making the global worming folks certain its as they say it was then compared to today
 

fazers_on_stun

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Hmm, I read elsewhere that the Carbon 14 decay rates were affected less than 1%, so I wouldn't use that to contradict the supposed age of anything prehistoric, except maybe Hugh Hefner :p.
 

fazers_on_stun

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Plus he's moved on from dating carbon to dating playmates :p.

Just finished watching "Knowing", yet another Nicolas Cage sci-fi thriller, with some nasty solar particles (flares) causing the end of the world. However this time it was October 2009, not 12-2012, that the world ended.

Dang Sun - always exploding or something to mess up our whole day! :p
 

jonpaul37

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In relative terms... we got less than a minute before the planet Jupiter is ignited into a star, i know it sounds bazaar but its mathematics, a specific sign for some of the planet's inhabitants, those who understand know what i'm saying is accurate...
 

fazers_on_stun

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Somebody's been reading too many AC Clarke stories :p.

You'd have to smash another 80 Jupiter masses into the current planet in order for it to turn into a red dwarf, using ordinary gravity-powered fusion. However that red dwarf would far outlive the Sun, so if we moved Earth into its habitable zone, we could continue to survive for a few billion years or so. Of course, during that length of time even Hilary Clinton might get elected as president :D.
 

fazers_on_stun

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^ LOL

According to an MSNBC poll today, about 58% of 90,000 respondents gave Obama the lowest possible grade of F on the job he's done so far. Only 13% gave him an A, which matches the percentage who gave him a small break (incl. me) and gave him a D.

And this is on a site that leans way too left for my tastes..
 

badge

Illustrious
Talk about low. This is the honest to god's truth. I turned off MSNBC during the 2004 election season, six years ago. Also, I turned off the Clinton News Network (CNN) a few years ago. I can be as open minded as the next guy about these kinds of things. Any serious discussion about politicians is a new lesson in frustration for me. These people have let me down so many times. I can only listen to the daily news shows so much anymore and I have to trun it off. Any lightheartedness or funny related stories are few and far between. uhmmm...the president of the free world sucks. F -10

*As you pointed out, an MSNBC poll with 50% anti Obama is incredible. Has Keith Olberman been brutally sodomized and left for dead yet? I hope so.
 

fazers_on_stun

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Actually MSNBC does usually report the news straight, without much overt bias, so that's where I usually go for my lunch break at work. And also for the MSN Money reports (which explains why I'm usually broke :p). But their slanted commentary just sucks eggs, so I mostly avoid it. And they also tend to give more screen space to unfavorable news reports on the republicans.

However I do like reading the comments that MSNBC usually includes with their news stories nowadays. They should have done that ages ago.

And yes I agree this thread has shifted directions mysteriously :D.
 
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