A well-known characteristic of decaying matter--the rate of which has always been constant--has suddenly started behaving mysteriously, and this seems to be caused by a mysterious particle emanating from the sun. In recent years; the carbon decay rates of radioactive elements have begun changing: The decay rate is slightly faster in winter than in summer. Since the Earth is closer to the sun during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere could the sun be influencing decay rates?
In Discovery.com, Ian O'Neill writes: "Purdue nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins noticed an inexplicable drop in the decay rate of manganese-54 when he was testing it one night in 2006. It so happened that this drop occurred just over a day before a large flare erupted on the sun. Did the sun somehow communicate with the manganese-54 sample?" When Stanford physicist Peter Sturrock heard about this, he suggested that the Jenkins and other Purdue scientists look for other recurring patterns in decay rates. He thought that this might be caused by a previously unknown particle being emitted by the sun. When the researchers looked closer, they noticed that the decay rates varied repeatedly every 33 days, which is the period of time that matches the rotational period of the core of the sun. The solar core is the source of solar neutrinos. Neutrinos come from the nuclear processes in the core of the sun, and can pass through the Earth unhindered. How could such tiny particles have a measurable impact on radioactive samples in a lab?
In Stanford University News, Dan Stober quotes Sturrock as saying, "That would be truly remarkable. Everyone thought it must be due to experimental mistakes, because we're all brought up to believe that decay rates are constant." Carbon-14 always has (or at least always HAD in the past) a half-life of 5730 years, meaning it takes 5,730 years for half of a sample of carbon-14 to radioactively decay into stable nitrogen-14. Through analysis of an ancient organic sample in order to find out what proportion of carbon-14 remains in it, we can accurately calculate how old it is. Since carbon dating is so important when it comes to determining the dates of ancient artifacts, this will greatly affect archeological research.
On the Project World Awareness website, Terrence Aym quotes NASA solar physicist William Thompson as saying that the researchers have "clearly shown that (solar) storms launched initially at high latitudes can still affect us at Earth." Although scientists have long known that solar storms can change directions while close to the sun, "It was surprising to find that this can still be the case farther along (in their) journey." Stober quotes Sturrock as saying, "It's an effect that no one yet understands. Theorists are starting to say, 'What's going on?' But that's what the evidence points to. It's a challenge for the physicists and a challenge for the solar people too." If the mystery particle is not a neutrino, "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."
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