The strange case of solar flares and radioactive elements

Ktulu
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The strange case of solar flares and radioactive elements

 http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/august/sun-082310.html

Very interesting article implying a correlation between solar flares and the rate of decay of some radioactive elements.

Here are a few quotes, I would like to hear the experts' take on this article ( looking at you AIG ) :

Quote:

 

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...

..."It doesn't make sense according to conventional ideas," Fischbach said. Jenkins whimsically added, "What we're suggesting is that something that doesn't really interact with anything is changing something that can't be changed."...

...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," Sturrock said.

 

 

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


mellestad
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The article doesn't seem to

The article doesn't seem to say they've removed doubt about causation...it will be interesting to see how this plays out!

 

Also, I'm curious as to what degree they are talking about.  It says 'slight' a couple times, but I don't know what that means.  Neat article though.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


Answers in Gene...
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 OK, for what it is worth,

 

OK, for what it is worth, the first thing would be to say that the smart money is on neutrinos. That being said, the devil is in the details and this is complicated.

 

The first thing that we need to cover is one of my favorite quotes from Einstein: “Explanations should be as simple as possible but not simpler”. I am probably butchering that but the sentiment should be clear. If you simplify an explanation past the point where it is actually saying something useful, then it ceases to be useful.

 

Where I find that article lacking is, in part, the suggestion of “or a new particle”. Sure, there are links that can be followed to the papers that support it but that will take a bit of time for me to digest. Put simply, what new particle is being predicted and what properties should we be looking for?

 

If the idea does not have a falsifiable prediction, then I could just as easily suggest that the new particle is anything at all and any new particle can be said to be it. I could jump up and say “I told you so!” and be about as real as anything that luminon has to offer.

 

 

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 That much having been

 

That much having been said, I also have an issue with the idea that neutrinos almost never interact with anything else. That is true enough but it misses the point. Avoiding the math, we can make an approximation of what is going on by analogy

 

Neutrinos have a tiny mass. In fact, such a small mass that nobody has yet to measure it. However, we can get a general mental picture by considering a hydrogen atom writ macroworld large.

 

Let's say that the single proton in the nucleus is akin to a bowling ball at the center of a stadium. In that case, the electron would be comparable to a ball bearing orbiting at the distance of the goal posts. As such, all matter in mostly empty space.

 

Now we can consider the neutrino as a dust mote passing through the region at almost the speed of light. Despite the fact that it can interact with other particles via at least the weak force and probably gravity and the electromagnetic force, there is no real reason why you would expect it to be in the area long enough to be affected by (or have a measurable effect on) other particles.

 

In very rare circumstances, a neutrino will hit some other particle dead on and in that case, you will expect the interaction to follow the standard model of particle physics. In that case, the math really comes to the fore. Should that happen, then there are a number of well documented interactions that may occur. All of which will cause a small but detectable change in the decay rate in the sample at hand.

NoMoreCrazyPeople wrote:
Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."

=