Neutrino Tricksters?

Solar ghosts may haunt Earth’s radioactive atoms – 24 June 2009 – New Scientist.

Ephraim Fischbach, searcher for “Hypercharge” fifth force in the 1980s, has produced an intriguing new analysis of radioactive decay data which indicates periodicities in various decay processes that shouldn’t exist. Radioactive decay is held to be “random” – in reality probabilistic because particles tunnel out of nucleii according to what energy they can borrow from the quantum vacuum, and that’s a ‘random’ thing. In operational terms it means radioactives should decay without respecting clocks, thus ideally we shouldn’t see seasonal and shorter term variations. But, of course, we live and experiment in a variable environment that does show such changes, which means most physicists are suspicious of the new results.

Some more related news-bites…

Radioactive Decay and the Earth-Sun Distance …John Cramer’s “Alternate View” article on the work. He also covered Fischbach’s Fifth-Force work in the 1980s.

The mystery of the varying nuclear decay …PhyicsWorld wades into the issue. Quotes Fischbach to the effect that ‘decay constants’ aren’t so constant.

Half-Life (More or Less) … ScienceNews does a similar piece, covering much of the physics community’s reaction.

Implications for C-14 Dating of the Jenkins-Fischbach Effect and Possible Fluctuation of the Solar Fusion Rate …a discussion of the possible ~200 year periodicity in C-14 decay and it’s possible relationship to the “Jenkins-Fischbach effect”. Indicates that archaeological dating by C-14 is thus probably in doubt – though by how much is guess-work. 200 years?

This is very much a “watch-this-space” kind of thing. Recent analysis of “Cassini’s” RTG output, which uses Pu-238, one of the variable isotopes, shows no variability – BUT Fischbach says that maybe due to power-variations from decay being masked by power-variations due to solar variability, which matches neutrino-flux variation in the model. Thus the signals counter-act. Maybe.