Radioactive decay rates vary with the sun's rotation: research

August 31, 2010 by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue University

Radioactive decay rates, thought to be unique physical constants and counted on in such fields as medicine and anthropology, may be more variable than once thought.

A team of scientists from Purdue and Stanford universities has found that the decay of radioactive isotopes fluctuates in synch with the rotation of the sun's core.

The fluctuations appear to be very small but could lead to predictive tools for and may have an impact on medical radiation treatments.

This adds to evidence of swings in decay rates in response to solar activity and the distance between the Earth and the sun that Purdue researchers Ephraim Fischbach, a professor of physics, and Jere Jenkins, a nuclear engineer, have been gathering for the last four years. The Purdue team previously reported observing a drop in the rate of decay that began a day and half before and peaked during the December 2006 solar flare and an annual fluctuation that appeared to be based on the Earth's orbit of, and changing distance from, the sun, Jenkins said.

"If the relationship between solar activity and decay rates proves to be true, it could lead to a method of predicting solar flares, which could help prevent damage to satellites and electric grids, as well as save the lives of astronauts in space," Jenkins said. "Finding that the decay rates fluctuate in a pattern that matches known and theoretical solar frequencies is compelling evidence for a solar influence on decay rates."

Jenkins and Fischbach collaborated with Peter Sturrock, a professor emeritus of applied physics at Stanford University and an expert on the inner workings of the sun, to examine data collected at Brookhaven National Laboratory on the rate of decay of the radioactive isotopes silicon-32 and chlorine-36. The team reported in the journal Astroparticle Physics that the decay rate for both isotopes varies in a 33-day recurring pattern, which they attribute to the rotation rate of the sun's core.

In general, the fluctuations that Jenkins and Fischbach have found are around a tenth of a percent from what is expected, as they've examined available published data and taken some measurements themselves.

The team has not yet examined isotopes used in medical radiation treatments or for dating of ancient artifacts.

"The fluctuations we're seeing are fractions of a percent and are not likely to radically alter any major anthropological findings," Fischbach said. "One of our next steps is to look into the isotopes used medically to see if there are any variations that would lead to overdosing or underdosing in radiation treatments, but there is no cause for alarm at this point. What is key here is that what was thought to be a constant actually varies and we've discovered a periodic oscillation where there shouldn't be one."

Jenkins and Fischbach suggest that the changes in the decay rates are due to interactions with solar neutrinos, nearly weightless particles created by nuclear reactions within the sun's core that travel almost at the speed of light.

It is estimated that about 60 billion solar neutrinos pass through a person's fingernail every second, but they are so weakly reactive that they pass right through the body without disturbing or changing anything, Jenkins said.

"We haven't known the solar neutrino to interact significantly with anything, but it fits with the evidence we've gathered as the likely source of these fluctuations," he said. "So, what we're suggesting is that something that can't interact with anything is changing something that can't be changed."

The Purdue team has ruled out the possibility of experimental error or an environmental influence on the detection systems that track the rate of decay as being responsible for the fluctuations and published a series of papers in the journals Astroparticle Physics, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, and Space Science Reviews.

Sturrock said it is an effect that no one yet understands and that if it is not neutrinos that are responsible, then perhaps there is an unknown particle interacting with the atoms.

"It would have to be something we don't know about - an unknown particle that is also emitted by the sun and has this effect - and that would be even more remarkable," he said.

Explore further: The strange case of solar flares and radioactive elements

More information: Power spectrum analyses of nuclear decay rates, M.A. Silver et al., Astroparticle Physics, Volume 34, Issue 3, October 2010, Pages 173-178. doi:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2010.06.011

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1.4 / 5 (18) Aug 31, 2010
Human psychic is sensitive to mutual orientation of Earth and Moon towards Sun in simmilar way, like so called Alais effect during solar eclipses. Twice per month the frequency of suicides increases, briefly before fool moon (waxing gibbous) and brifly after it (waning gibbous). The full moon has been traditionally linked to crime, suicide, mental illness, disasters, accidents, birthrates, fertility, and werewolves...

1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 31, 2010
Why this change in radioactive decay rates was not noticed already 100 years ago by the pioneering physicists such as the Curies.
1.9 / 5 (10) Aug 31, 2010
Why this change in radioactive decay rates was not noticed already 100 years ago by the pioneering physicists such as the Curies.

Russian work published in 1989 describes experiments including decay of Pu239 over long periods of time, Schnoll et al. Extreme pressure can cause electron-capture decay rates to increase slightly (less than 0.2 percent), but the change is small enough that it has no detectable effect on dates.

You cannot expect, these minute effects could be observed in early pioneering works, i.e. until no metodology of radioactive decay measurement was developed.
1 / 5 (15) Aug 31, 2010
… ever is uneven any motioning but never was not even one motionst unever, bey quadrate. Mean, all motions are always without theory because with practum is also not the real motion …
2.9 / 5 (7) Aug 31, 2010
I find this to be an amazing revelation. Decay rates are linked to something (particles?) emitted from our Sun! And, if we do not know what that something is, how can one safely assume that it has always flowed at the approximate rates and with the same small variability that we see today?I don't think one could make that assumption. I find this to be a rather remarkable piece of information. Love it!
4.4 / 5 (5) Aug 31, 2010
I find this a quite exciting discovery. I even found myself trying to explain it to my daughter! (Not very successful.) Looks like a genuine 'rewrite the text books' candidate.

The effect is said to be small - but just how small? How sensitive does instrumentation need to be to detect this? What sort of % change are we looking at?
3.3 / 5 (6) Aug 31, 2010
A tenth of a percent variability per month(well 33 days) times hundreds of millions of years does not seem like a small issue to me. It seems potentially massive. Particularly when the actual range of varibility over long time periods is not known. Somehow... me thinks this is sorta big news... or that it will somehow and mysteriously disappear in the blink of a news cycle. I do hate to be the cynic, but we all know that some discoveries can be too big for their own good, don't we? :-o
3.2 / 5 (6) Aug 31, 2010
This is indeed exciting stuff - demonstrating that this does happen opens the possibility of solar events that could change the decay rate even more drastically than the relatively small observed change mentioned above. Stand back, Pandora's box is open . . .
4.6 / 5 (11) Aug 31, 2010
"The effect is said to be small - but just how small? How sensitive does instrumentation need to be to detect this? What sort of % change are we looking at?"

hodzaa already listed a link to a 2008 paper by Jenkins and Fischbach describing the 2006 flare, here it is again:

Have at it. I might suggest that after you explain it to your daughter, you explain it to the rest of the scientific community, especially Jenkins and Fischbach, who repeatedly have stated THEY don't have a supportable explanation for their observations either. It may be a new particle. It may be a new mode of interaction with the neutrino. It may be any number of new or unforseen properties of nature.

Or it may be experimental error. Statistical error. Equipment error. Until they can more rigorously interpret their data and positively exclude or control for any and all of these possibilities, I'd be a little more suspect of their claims of 'new physics'.
3.8 / 5 (4) Aug 31, 2010
Small calculation:
(assuming a "fraction of a percent" as .1%)
100 million years * .1% =
100,000,000 * 0.001 = 100,000 years change

100,000,000 - 100,000 = 99,900,000 years. Still incredibly old. So off by a hundred thousand years aint that bad. Simple math, guys.
1.2 / 5 (13) Aug 31, 2010
Matter is a resonance system in near perfect balance so it comes as no surprise to anyone who spends time thinking, that --this effect can be amplified through resonance. Thus all those crazy seeming 'science fiction-like' stories are all ~true~.

Since it is decay rates, thus it becomes matter transmutation.

This then also means that if one employs resonance in the right ways, gravitation and time are also transgressed. Which automatically becomes....dimensional shifting. Simple things like superconductors become child's play.

Too bad for the all the naysayers out there they just got their collective asses handed to them.

Deal with it, deal with the ramifications.

It's been a long time coming.

Don't mind if I gloat and slap you around with it for about a decade or more. Your type has been driving real innovation into the ditch for far too long.
1.7 / 5 (10) Aug 31, 2010
That doesn't surprise me at all.
How could anything be expected not to vary in time (like a decay rate) so close to a gravitational powerhouse like the sun ?
It's not likely to be due to neutrinos, but it could be the stretching of time due to gravitational waves.

Besides, I never liked the idea of a decay rate in the first place. It violates the idea of background independence.
1.7 / 5 (12) Aug 31, 2010
Research Hal Puthoff and Ingo Swan, when they first met.

Hal asked Ingo to mentally 'probe' a REG that was based on nuclear decay. It was buried under concrete, about two floors down, in the basement of the given university.

Ingo turned his attention to it.....and the readings of the random generator all went unidirectional.....for the full 30 seconds of Ingo's Psychic probing of it. A statistically impossible event, by any measure.

Ingo then proceeded to tell Hal the exact inner design that he visualized of the device's construction. 100% correct, it was. There was no way Ingo could have known how it was built.

So 'psychic' (other dimensional) activities drastically increase decay rates. As the 'REG experiment' has also shown.

The ramifications of that, the boffins of science may have very emotionally difficult time accepting, thus they will do everything in their power to dismiss it, even though the facts sit there, undeniable. Unbreachably true.

Suck it up!
1 / 5 (4) Aug 31, 2010
Whether it is a neutrino interaction or a gravitational time effect, the bottom line seems to be a very hard to detect energy is at workm and it`s effects can be measured, and observed.
I have to think of the equiptment on the backs of the Ghostbusters, and I can imagine the Trans Atlantic Paranormal Society boys in a haunted houise, saying--"If you are there, approach this device and try to make the lights flicker"
2.7 / 5 (3) Aug 31, 2010
If the solar neutrinos can affect decay rates, I'm excited to think about what other phenomenon may get explained from their effects.
3 / 5 (2) Aug 31, 2010
That doesn't surprise me at all.
How could anything be expected not to vary in time (like a decay rate) so close to a gravitational powerhouse like the sun ?
It's not likely to be due to neutrinos, but it could be the stretching of time due to gravitational waves.

This brings up an interesting aspect. The time space continuum is not a static entity but is likely to be affected by many things including gravitational pulses caused by rotating bodies with a center of gravity that is slighly off the geographic (solagraphic?) center.
2 / 5 (5) Aug 31, 2010
moj85, Fail.

Decay rates are not variable for just one month, but through out the entire span of the life of the solar system. So you have to implement a more complex statistical method in order to obtain an accurate answer.

In other words, the error introduced every month grows depending on how far back in time we 'measure' based on invariable decay rates. So the further back we look the more inaccurate our results are in terms of dating (unless properly accounted for).

Chances are there will be significant re-writes in all books which based their measurements on invariable carbon dating and such. Not only that new measurements need to be taken with improved techniques which account for variable decay rates with some given statistical error for each measurement. Etc, etc, etc...
3 / 5 (5) Aug 31, 2010
So, another effect that should have been detected at least 50 years ago or more. Except everyone "knew" that radioactive decay was constant. Any anyone saying otherwise was a crank or heretic.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 31, 2010
Fascinating and exciting stuff, this research. Wouldn't it be feasible to experiment with a radioactive decay isotope at the High Intensity Neutrino Source at Fermilab to see if the effect can be produced artificially?

And if it can, given that neutrinos go through just about everything with no effects, ill or otherwise, I wonder if it might be possible to suppress, with a strong enough source and even from quite a distance through the planet, enough radioactive decay emission to effectively "damp" a nuclear reaction to prevent it initiating? (I'm thinking Uranium or Plutonium in a bomb.)
3 / 5 (5) Sep 01, 2010
it just goes to show that whatever Physics or other sciences have developed so far consists of only relative truths that are subject to change depending on the universal factors that have not been considered or examined. A very significant study of conceptual significance indeed!
Sep 01, 2010
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3.3 / 5 (6) Sep 01, 2010
Did none of you see this article from last week???


If not, then prepare to have your minds blown again.
1.7 / 5 (6) Sep 01, 2010
it could be the stretching of time due to gravitational waves.

I presume,we cannot detect space-time stretching in such way. The gravitational waves would change even the speed of clock, which we used for measurement of decay - and you would find anything. For gravitational wave detection you're required to have sufficiently detector, which is able to measure changes simultaneously at both ends.
4.7 / 5 (10) Sep 01, 2010
"Did none of you see this article from last week???..."

These two articles essentially discuss the same 'discovery'. Note Jenkins, Fischbach and Sturrock appear in both pieces and discuss a solar flare event in 2006. Also, from this article:

"If the relationship between solar activity and decay rates proves to be true, it could lead to a method of predicting solar flares..."

And from the other:

"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..."


Joe Webers premature 'discovery' of "gravitational waves" should serve as a cautionary tale in cases like this one. Curious how how many commenters to both articles are ready to accept this research as fact based on a handful of observations, yet(elsewhere) discredit dark energy, dark matter or the BBT and consider them to be contemptible scientific hoaxes!
not rated yet Sep 01, 2010
With the numerous neutrinos passing through everything, although only a few "direct hits" are detected, there must be many more "near misses" or "off-center hits". These "near misses" or "off-center hits", with even a small mass, neutrinos at almost the speed of light, would effect whatever they encounter.
Sep 02, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
1.7 / 5 (6) Sep 02, 2010
Why this change in radioactive decay rates was not noticed already 100 years ago by the pioneering physicists such as the Curies.

Because they were busy pushing the science religion.
1 / 5 (3) Sep 04, 2010
Why this change in radioactive decay rates was not noticed already 100 years ago by the pioneering physicists such as the Curies.


long half lives too long

short half lives too short

needed 100 years of measurement to be certain.
not rated yet Sep 06, 2010
Could quntum entaglement be the cause of the variation in decay rates rather than the neutrino collusions suggested?
2 / 5 (4) Sep 06, 2010
Could quntum entaglement be the cause of the variation in decay rates rather than the neutrino collusions suggested?
Why not. What would that imply?

not rated yet Sep 07, 2010
If the timing of the change in decay rates occured measurably later than a solar flare then entanglement is unlikely, but I read nothing of the timing in these observations. the incedible unknowns of matter compressed within even our average sun "might" impose quantum spooky action at a distance. My conjecture is based only on possibility of observing natural case of entanglement
1 / 5 (2) Sep 09, 2010
Could there exist a phenomen of stimulated emission of neutrinos triggered by a high flux of neutrinos like a Laser ? Or could that be the first hint of dark matter flux in our universe ?
By the way, which kind of decay is variable ? alpha, beta or gamma ?
not rated yet Sep 13, 2010
So it seems that we are on the verge of discovering the long-sought and elusive verteron-particle!! Hopefully this will speed up the development of a functional warp-drive.

Unfortunately they don't say here how large the effect is. This would correlate with the variation of fluctuations in the suns neutrino emissions and thus be a direct measure of the suns power output.

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