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ToSeek
2012-Aug-29, 12:35 PM
Is the Sun Emitting a Mystery Particle? (http://news.discovery.com/space/is-the-sun-emitting-a-mystery-particle.html)


When probing the deepest reaches of the Cosmos or magnifying our understanding of the quantum world, a whole host of mysteries present themselves. This is to be expected when pushing our knowledge of the Universe to the limit.

But 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.

LookingSkyward
2012-Aug-29, 12:43 PM
Ok, that is truly weird (what happened to my Manganese-54??!!), but kind of exciting.

Tensor
2012-Aug-29, 03:38 PM
Is the Sun Emitting a Mystery Particle? (http://news.discovery.com/space/is-the-sun-emitting-a-mystery-particle.html)

Actually, that has been discussed here before(I can't find it on a quick search right now) and has been refuted in this paper (http://donuts.berkeley.edu/papers/EarthSun.pdf). Which really puzzles me as to why Discovery News would present the original hypothesis two years after the refutation was published.

jfribrg
2012-Aug-29, 05:26 PM
Very interesting. One could make an argument that this thread be moved to ATM.

John Jaksich
2012-Aug-29, 11:18 PM
I am trying to be serious--but this sounds vaguely familiar to the "December 2012" hoax---and I know the post is serious. I do call into question how "Discover" magazine could peddle such stuff?

Tensor
2012-Aug-30, 12:13 AM
I am trying to be serious--but this sounds vaguely familiar to the "December 2012" hoax---and I know the post is serious. I do call into question how "Discover" magazine could peddle such stuff?

No John, there was actually a paper that showed some tentative results indicating that a few different elements seem to have different decay rates at different distances from the sun. It was published in 2008. The paper I linked to was published later in 2008. My guess is that the author of the article in Discovery News found the original paper or some reference to it and ran with it, not bothering to actually check on whether or not there was some follow up or refutation.

Superluminal
2012-Aug-30, 12:26 AM
Actually, that has been discussed here before(I can't find it on a quick search right now) and has been refuted in this paper (http://donuts.berkeley.edu/papers/EarthSun.pdf). Which really puzzles me as to why Discovery News would present the original hypothesis two years after the refutation was published.
Maybe the refutation has been refuted?

Tensor
2012-Aug-30, 12:42 AM
Maybe the refutation has been refuted?

I didn't see one up until mid-2011, although I will admit to not doing an in-depth search from then until now. Just cursory searches. Are you aware of such a paper?

borman
2012-Aug-30, 01:08 AM
Others have looked for cyclic variations of the decay rate and have not found them. While this may indicate systematics for either or both sets of observers, it may merit consideration where both sets of observers are presenting valid results. Whether one gets a signal or a null result may depend on additional factors not yet taken into consideration. In addition to annual cycles, there may be diurnal effects (one day for Earth but 33 days for the sun), and there may be longitude and lattitude effects. There are so fewdata points or "pixels" that one not tell if the image is a mouse or elephant when and if the conditions for a "pixel" occurence arises. An example was the correct prediction of a null result of a flyby anomaly while still simulating the the non-null results observed by NASA by some other flybys. This conforms to the possibility that both sets of observers are giving valid results.

Regarding a mystery particle, it is not established that the sun is the source of the observed Earth anomalies. To be considered is that whatever is influencing the Earth decay rates decay rates might also be influencing decay rates in the sun (over its diurnal day of 33 days), rather than the hypothesis that solar neutrinos are sourcing the Earth anomalies. The Earth should not hold a special preference over the sun or any other body if the anomaly is genuine.

More data, both null and non-null, will be needed to get a better picture of the anomaly and its possible source.

John Jaksich
2012-Aug-30, 05:07 AM
I didn't see one up until mid-2011, although I will admit to not doing an in-depth search from then until now. Just cursory searches. Are you aware of such a paper?

I turned up mention of a possibility that Solar Neutrinos being a source of a possible anomaly at the end of a lecture posted on youtube by Dr. Gabriel Orebi Gann at the very end of her lecture. The lecture is a U.C. Berkeley "Compass Lecture"

Dr. Gann is a new faculty member to U.C. Berkeley's physics dept.

She did her post-doc at SNO in Canada and her seminar was primarily addressing SNO+ and the opportunities of new science at SNO+.

Further info tells me that her post-doc was done at University of Pennsylvania under Prof Klein

trinitree88
2012-Aug-30, 01:48 PM
Is the Sun Emitting a Mystery Particle? (http://news.discovery.com/space/is-the-sun-emitting-a-mystery-particle.html)











ToSeeK. The school textbooks should teach that the radioactive rates are not necessarily constant. The half life of free neutrons drops precipitously when extreme magnetic fields are applied, and is a considered factor in the axisymmetry of some models of pulsar emissions. And, since clocks tick more quickly on the top of the Sears tower due to GR, radioactive clocks decay more quickly there too....just as cosmic ray muons live long enough to reach sea level by relativistic time dilation. Somebody should write better textbooks.
The Earth, in it's annual passage around the sun, changes it's velocity and it's position in the gravitational well, so the decays should slow approaching January (perihelion) and speed up approaching aphelion in June. pete

ravens_cry
2012-Aug-30, 03:30 PM
There is also the Suns gravity well to consider here I would think.

trinitree88
2012-Aug-30, 06:38 PM
There is also the Suns gravity well to consider here I would think.

ravens_cry. That's the one I was referring to....as the Earth changes velocity, it's changing well position,too........ 1/2 mv2 = mgh stuff. pete

Hornblower
2012-Aug-30, 07:30 PM
I would not expect relativistic effects alone to affect the observed decay rates of locally stationary samples in a laboratory, because whatever is being used as a timer will be affected in unison with the decaying stuff.

mike alexander
2012-Aug-31, 01:11 AM
It could also be due to superluminal properties of neutrinos.

A word to the wary.

Jerry
2012-Aug-31, 04:26 AM
Few data points, wide error bars, and limited variation in the orbital distance from the sun. A definitive space probe in elliptical orbit designed specifically to test the premise would provide a better solution set.

There are bigger fish: the lithium abundance problem for example; that could be exposed if more careful and pointed research on non-earth based decay rates were completed.

Another, possibly related anomaly was the power output of the pioneer probes - they performed better than best estimates for the life expectancy of the nuclear plants they carried.

Tensor
2012-Aug-31, 05:53 AM
ToSeeK. The school textbooks should teach that the radioactive rates are not necessarily constant. The half life of free neutrons drops precipitously when extreme magnetic fields are applied, and is a considered factor in the axisymmetry of some models of pulsar emissions. And, since clocks tick more quickly on the top of the Sears tower due to GR, radioactive clocks decay more quickly there too....just as cosmic ray muons live long enough to reach sea level by relativistic time dilation. Somebody should write better textbooks.
The Earth, in it's annual passage around the sun, changes it's velocity and it's position in the gravitational well,

In the muon experiment, the muons live long enough because they are in motion, compared to the stationary Earth, where the length of time of their decay is measured. Where, as Hornblower pointed out, in a laboratory on Earth, the object decaying and object measuring the decay are both stationary and will undergo the same relativistic changes. Somebody should write better explanations of relativistic effects, I guess. However, the textbooks I have make it plain, IN THE RELATIVITY SECTIONS, that decay rates can change, depending on relativistic effects.


so the decays should slow approaching January (perihelion) and speed up approaching aphelion in June. pete

Yeah, the problem with this is that this paper (http://arxiv.org/pdf/0809.4248v1.pdf) shows that there isn't any kind of significant variation in the decay of 238Pu from 0.7 to 1.6 AU. These distances are much greater than the distances involved in the difference between perihelion and aphelion. As an aside, in addition to the distances, the data includes the changes in velocities which occurred during this time(the two gravity assists from Venus).

Let me clarify something I said earlier:



Maybe the refutation has been refuted?
I didn't see one up until mid-2011, although I will admit to not doing an in-depth search from then until now. Just cursory searches. Are you aware of such a paper?

While there are no specific refutations of the paper I linked to, the original authors try to dismiss this by saying that 238Pu decays by alpha decay, where the variations noted in the various papers are found in beta decays. However, they specifically state in the original paper that:


The preceding considerations, along with the correlations evident in Fig. 4, suggest that the time-dependence of the 32Si/36Cl ratio and the 226Ra decay rate are being modulated by an annually varying flux or field originating from the Sun, although they do not specify what this flux or field might be. The fact that the two decay processes are very different (alpha decay for 226Ra beta decay for 32Si) would seem to preclude a common mechanism for both.

Since they now, evidently accept the refutation of their data for alpha decay (why else would they accept beta, but not alpha?), then there had to have been a problem with the original measurements (they didn't do the original measurements) or their analysis. But that's not what they say, the authors now state in the June 2011 paper (only the Mercury MESSENGER paper of July 2011 is more recent):


...whereas the periodic effects observed in various data sets always involve beta decays.

It seems they've completely forgot about their conclusion in their original paper.

The core of the team that presented the original report of a variation has published several different papers in the last two years reporting pretty much the same results, with variations on how those results were obtained. They state they have redone measurements and analysis and have found nothing to explain their observed variations. Most of the support for the variation comes from two data sets, with the data from prior to 1996 showing more variation than the data after 1996. This includes the recent data which has smaller variations, if it has any at all. It is interesting to note that the support for the data comes mostly from the same two groups, while refutations of the various papers come from a variety of different groups or individuals.

Even members of the original group has found refutations. Experiemnts the original group have conducted have found that gold (198Au), half as foil, half as a sphere, have produced no apparent variation in the decay rate (http://arxiv.org/pdf/1006.5071v1.pdf). None of the group's papers after this one reference this paper. In another recent paper, this group has constrained changes in 137 C decay rates. These changes are consistent with a zero change rate, for measurements taken from the MESSENGER mission to Mercury, prior to orbital insertion at Mercury. They don't think they have all the data though:


...that a non-zero value of ξ near the nominal level that we have assumed might be detectable using a more sophisticated analysis of the actual post-MOI MESSENGER data.

Note that they haven't found anything (although, if the sun was the culprit, being that close should show something if the effects are found on Earth). Meanwhile, back on Earth, just this past Febuary, this paper (http://arxiv.org/pdf/1202.3662.pdf) has found no variation in 137C, with care taken to reduce gamma radiation, temperature variation, and other environmental effects that could be the cause of the variations found in other data sets.

Jerry
2012-Aug-31, 11:40 AM
Yeah, the problem with this is that this paper (http://arxiv.org/pdf/0809.4248v1.pdf) shows that there isn't any kind of significant variation in the decay of 238Pu from 0.7 to 1.6 AU. These distances are much greater than the distances involved in the difference between perihelion and aphelion. As an aside, in addition to the distances, the data includes the changes in velocities which occurred during this time(the two gravity assists from Venus).
Good paper, but I am nervous about the third order polynomial used as a correction factor for converter degredation. A first order should work, and adding two terms can mask periodic functions. Again, an experiment designed to control these variables is preferable to post-facto correction factors for scientific experiments. (The Jerry test.) While limits can be placed, the raw data do not rule out a small delta in the decay rate.


Note that they haven't found anything (although, if the sun was the culprit, being that close should show something if the effects are found on Earth). Meanwhile, back on Earth, just this past Febuary, this paper (http://arxiv.org/pdf/1202.3662.pdf) has found no variation in 137C, with care taken to reduce gamma radiation, temperature variation, and other environmental effects that could be the cause of the variations found in other data sets.Ok, this is highly constraining...it is also deep underground, preventing the solar 'z' rays from modifying the decay rate:)

Shaula
2012-Aug-31, 11:48 AM
Ok, this is highly constraining...it is also deep underground, preventing the solar 'z' rays from modifying the decay rate
If it is primarily beta decays showing the effect surely you would expect your Z rays to be only really weakly interacting? Which should mean that underground is not an issue.

Jerry
2012-Sep-01, 04:28 AM
If it is primarily beta decays showing the effect surely you would expect your Z rays to be only really weakly interacting? Which should mean that underground is not an issue.
Agreed. The devil is always in the experimental details, and I haven't attacked this data set, yet.

The Cassini data is problematic: The noise is overbearing. I don't even think the 'two data points that are obviously outliers' would survive a mathematically rigorous outlier tests.

trinitree88
2012-Sep-01, 03:52 PM
I would not expect relativistic effects alone to affect the observed decay rates of locally stationary samples in a laboratory, because whatever is being used as a timer will be affected in unison with the decaying stuff.

Hornblower. DOH! slaps head. Yep. lol. thanks pete. You're right. The clock would have to stay in an orbit at a fixed distance from the sun, irrespective of Earth.....second head slap.:D

Ara Pacis
2012-Sep-01, 07:06 PM
Here's the thread we had on this topic before: The strange case of solar flares and radioactive elements (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php/107112-The-strange-case-of-solar-flares-and-radioactive-elements)

Squink
2012-Sep-02, 08:12 PM
More recent articles:
From the Annals of the Impossible (Experimental Physics) (http://wavewatching.net/2012/09/01/from-the-annals-of-the-impossible-experimental-physics-edition/) (Sept 2012)
Analysis of Gamma Radiation from a Radon Source: Indications of a Solar Influence (http://arxiv.org/abs/1205.0205) (arXiv, May 2012)

publiusr
2012-Sep-02, 08:15 PM
The young-earthers are bound to use that as an excuse--but it just makes the shroud of Turin even younger if true--so there goes that.

Strange
2012-Sep-02, 09:54 PM
The young-earthers are bound to use that as an excuse...

I'm pretty sure I have seen blog articles where they have tried to do that. But surely (a) the effect is too weak to make a significant difference and (b) if it is varies through the year it will average out over the entire annual cycle?

Jerry
2012-Sep-24, 08:38 PM
More recent articles:
From the Annals of the Impossible (Experimental Physics) (http://wavewatching.net/2012/09/01/from-the-annals-of-the-impossible-experimental-physics-edition/) (Sept 2012)
Analysis of Gamma Radiation from a Radon Source: Indications of a Solar Influence (http://arxiv.org/abs/1205.0205) (arXiv, May 2012)


The frequency-hour-of-day displays in Figures 11, 12, and
13 show that the annual oscillation is primarily a daytime effect,
but all other oscillations are primarily nighttime effects.

This seems to scream instrument systemics, but what? It is disappointing that a more constant voltage source was used, and better temperature control. This is clearly something that we need to get a better handle on, and it is possible that the deep earth experiments have given us better constraints, but I would like to see more studies; and a better explanation than that it is purely experimental variability of an unknown origin.