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Science

Radioactive Decay Apparently Influenced By the Sun 267

Posted by timothy
from the action-at-a-distance dept.
quax writes "In school you probably learned that the decay rate of radioactive matter is solely determined by the halftime specific to the element. There is no environmental factor that can somehow tweak this process. At least there shouldn't be. Now a second study confirmed previous findings that the decay rate of some elements seems to be under the subtle and mysterious influence of the sun. As of now there is no theoretical explanation for this strange effect buried in the decay rate data."
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Radioactive Decay Apparently Influenced By the Sun

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  • This is exciting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cunniff (264218) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @01:19PM (#41200623) Homepage

    Possibly the most exciting physics news of the year. Although the detection of the Higgs boson was big, it mostly confirmed what existing theory predicted. Interesting, important - but, to some physics, perhaps a bit boring.

    If further measurements continue to verify this effect, there are some very interesting new physics to discover.

  • Re:Not enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bryansix (761547) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @01:29PM (#41200665) Homepage
    Step 1) See science I don't agree with
    Step 2) Find no logical arguments to shoot it down
    Step 3) resort to ridicule and call it a day
  • Re:Oh. Oh no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @01:33PM (#41200693)

    I'm not worried. If this effect is based on solar neutrino flux or some such thing, what would that have to be to change radio carbon dating to give an earth age of 6000 years vs 4.5 billion? And then, what would the effect of the level of solar activity resulting in that neutrino flux do to life on earth? Probably fry it to a cinder.

    If the effect exists, it is probably operating on the parts per million level. Which wouldn't do more than knock a few years off the age of Lucy [wikipedia.org].

  • by quax (19371) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @01:54PM (#41200809)

    The hypothesis is that a yet unknown weak force interaction triggered be the sun's neutrino's is responsible for this.

    It'll hardly be the first time that a scientifically observed phenomenon has no current theoretical explanation.

    If yours was the way science operates we'd still operate out of caves.

  • Re:Oh. Oh no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NF6X (725054) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @02:06PM (#41200881) Homepage

    Perhaps the Sun is helping to pull the atoms apart via inflicted gravitational force on a very slight level.

    Then please explain how solar tides affect the decay rate while much stronger lunar tides do not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 01, 2012 @02:28PM (#41200993)

    People are stupid. Wizard's first rule. Think about what this means to 'carbon dating' material. What else does mankind yet to learn and ask yourself, "Does mankind know for a fact anything?"

    Mankind knows for a fact that every time a new discovery is made, silly bints such as yourself will drastically overestimate the amount of science it overturns.

  • by volsung (378) <stan@mtrr.org> on Saturday September 01, 2012 @02:44PM (#41201083)

    Another relatively easy control would be to conduct simultaneous experiments in the northern and southern hemispheres. Many external effects (like temperature) would be 180 degrees out of phase, while the distance from the Sun will be essentially the same for the two experiments.

  • by nadaou (535365) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @07:12PM (#41202645) Homepage

    > If yours was the way science operates we'd still operate out of caves.

    consider if you will where we place our neutrino detectors.

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @08:05PM (#41202929)
    There is no dogmatic-accepted scientific theory. There are just accepted theories, theories that best fit the data collected to this point. All scientists who are worth the name know that theories are just approximations of reality and as such can and will be modified in time to correct inconsistencies and better describe what they try to model.

    On the other hand, all religious doctrines are completely dogmatic, and to add insult to injury, there is no religion that isn't completely inconsistent with itself. You don't even need to look outside the doctrines to find critical incoherences.

    Now regarding "young earth" creationists, there is no significant difference between them and you. You both try to force data to conform to your theories (supposedly written by your invisible God), instead of trying to conform your theories to the data. The fact that they try to do it to carbon dating and you don't does not make your approach better in any way.

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