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The bad news is that still, no one knows why this happens. It may be an interaction among ionizing particles and neutrinos, but those things are puny, chargeless and mostly unwilling to interact with any normal matter. It's still a mystery, said Fischbach's colleague at Purdue, nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins. "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 says.
This all goes back to 2006, when physicists at Purdue, Stanford and other places noticed something that at first defied physical explanation: Radioactive elements were changing their decay rates. This flew in the face of long-accepted physics theory, which held that these rates are constant. Radioactive decay apparently grew more pronounced in winter than in summer, and when scientists went looking for an explanation, they noticed this appeared to correlate with solar flares.