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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.
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 the speed of light through the physical world - humans, rocks, oceans or planets - with virtually no interaction with anything.
Originally posted by SonOfTheLawOfOne
So if we put two and two together... you could say that time, as we know it and define it, is either A) wrong or B) can no longer be accurately measured by radioactive decay?
I think this is earth-shattering news and will gain more popularity as time goes on, but for now, this should be a hot topic because it can alter the way we perceive time. Could it mean that the sun is altering time itself?
Originally posted by SonOfTheLawOfOne
Just the simple fact that the sun's behavior has a direct correlation to changes in radioactive decay is HUGE!
The one thing in physics classes and most other related sciences, is that you can almost always depend on the mathematical rate of radioactive decay... so let me put this into perspective...
Don't we base time on the atomic clock? Isn't GPS and satellite technology dependent on keep perfect track of time? Isn't an atomic clock based on the radioactive decay of the cesium atom? Aren't most measurements within physics based on a calculation of time? What if that core measurement is wrong?
So if we put two and two together... you could say that time, as we know it and define it, is either A) wrong or B) can no longer be accurately measured by radioactive decay? It can't be another answer unless someone can come up with an exact way to predict the sun's behavior.... the only thing that comes to mind is a sun dial.
Originally posted by Phage
The Cassini probe carries three Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators. The decay rate of the plutonium in the generators has shown a decline independent of its distance from the Sun. So that's one part of Jenkins' study which seem to be flawed.
[edit on 8/24/2010 by Phage]