by Terrence Aym
August 28, 2010

from Helium Website

Spanish version

For months mounting fear has driven researchers to wring their hands over the approaching solar storms.


Some have predicted devastating solar tsunamis that could wipe away our advanced technology, others voiced dire warnings that violent explosions on the surface of the sun could reach out to Earth, breach our magnetic field, and expose billions to high intensity X-rays and other deadly forms of cancer-causing radiation.



Now evidence has surfaced that something potentially more dangerous is happening deep within the hidden core of our life-giving star:

never-before-seen particles - or some mysterious force - is being shot out from the sun and it’s hitting Earth.

Whatever it is, the evidence suggests it's affecting all matter.




Strange and unknown


Alarmed physicists first became aware of this threat over the past several years.


Initially dismissed as an anomaly, now frantic scientists are shooting e-mails back and forth to colleagues across the world attempting to grasp exactly what is happening to the sun.


Something impossible has happened. Yet the “impossible” has been proven to be true. Laboratories around the globe have confirmed that the rate of radioactive decay - once thought to be a constant and a bedrock of science - is no longer a constant. Something being emitted from the sun is interacting with matter in strange and unknown ways with the startling potential to dramatically change the nature of the very Earth itself.


Exactly what has scientists so on edge is the fact that the natural rate of decay of atomic particles has always been predictable. Indeed, using the decay rate of Carbon-14 has been a method to date archeological artifacts. The process, known as carbon dating, measures the quantity of Carbon-14 within organic objects.


According to the numbers, Carbon-14 has a specific half-life of 5,730 years.


Physicists have proven through exhaustive observation and experimentation over the course of a century that it takes 5,730 years for Carbon-14 atoms to decay into a stable Nitrogen-14.


The values don't change - or at least they never have in the past. With certain evidence that radioactive decay can be significantly affected by an unknown effect from the sun, much of science is turned on its head.




Rate of decay speeding up


Worst of all, if the decay rates of matter are being mutated then all matter on Earth is being affected including the matter that makes up life.


The mutation may go so far as to change the underlying reality of the quantum universe - and by extrapolation - the nature of life, the principles of physics, perhaps even the uniform flow of time. In fact, some evidence of time dilation has been gleaned from close observation of the decay rate.


If particles interacting with the matter are not the cause - and matter is being affected by a new force of nature-then time itself may be speeding up and there’s no way to stop it.




Neutrinos the cause?


Researchers have correlated the anomalies in the decay rate to a 33-day period.


That time frame matches the 33-day rotation of the solar core. Such a match strains credulity as being a mere coincidence. Since the sun's core is known to blast out continuous streams of particles called neutrinos, some scientists are attempting to find evidence that neutrinos are the culprits behind the mutation of matter.


There's a problem with that hypothesis, however, as neutrinos are like ghost particles. They're extremely difficult to detect. Normally, neutrinos pass through the Earth without any interaction at all. To a neutrino, it's as if the Earth doesn't exist.


Other than discovering a previously unknown property of neutrinos, or finding a new particle altogether, the possibility exists that no particle is behind the changes recorded in the radioactive decay rates.


What could be causing the phenomenon is a previously unknown force.




Unknown dangers


As the sun builds towards solar maximum and a period of dangerous intensity never experienced by any living person inexorably approaches, strange, uncontrollable forces could be building deep within its fiery nuclear furnace.


It's already been proven that the sun's mass,

  • warps time

  • bends light waves

  • accounts for mutation of species on Earth

Now this new force may be directly interacting with matter in a way that could not only change Mankind's understanding of physics, but change Mankind itself…and not necessarily in a beneficial way.


In the end, we are all just observers. Whether the phenomenon has no real impact on humanity, or the worst impact imaginable, nothing can be done to stop it.


Once again, the titanic forces of nature rear up to overwhelm our technology - and we find ourselves like the playthings of gods.



Additional information:

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Additional information



Is the Sun Emitting a Mystery Particle?
by Ian O'Neill
August 25, 2010

from NewsDiscovery Website

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.




A solar eruption sends a wave of plasma hurtling towards Earth on Aug. 1, 2010.

The event was captured by NASA satellites.


Many fields of science depend on measuring constant decay rates.


For example, to accurately date ancient artifacts, archaeologists measure the quantity of carbon-14 found inside organic samples at dig sites. This is a technique known as carbon dating.

Carbon-14 has a very defined half-life of 5,730 years; i.e. it takes 5,730 years for half of a sample of carbon-14 to radioactively decay into stable nitrogen-14. Through spectroscopic analysis of the ancient organic sample, by finding out what proportion of carbon-14 remains, we can accurately calculate how old it is.

But as you can see, carbon dating makes one huge assumption:

radioactive decay rates remain constant and always have been constant.

If this new finding is proven to be correct, even if the impact is small, it will throw the science community into a spin.

Interestingly, researchers at Purdue first noticed something awry when they were using radioactive samples for random number generation. Each decay event occurs randomly (hence the white noise you'd hear from a Geiger counter), so radioactive samples provide a non-biased random number generator.

However, when they compared their measurements with other scientists' work, the values of the published decay rates were not the same. In fact, after further research they found that not only were they not constant, but they'd vary with the seasons.


Decay rates would slightly decrease during the summer and increase during the winter.

Experimental error and environmental conditions have all been ruled out - the decay rates are changing throughout the year in a predictable pattern. And there seems to be only one answer.

As the Earth is closer to the sun during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere (our planet's orbit is slightly eccentric, or elongated), could the sun be influencing decay rates?

In another moment of weirdness, 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? If it did, something from the sun would have had to travel through the Earth (as the sample was on the far side of our planet from the sun at the time) unhindered.

The sun link was made even stronger when Peter Sturrock, Stanford professor emeritus of applied physics, suggested that the Purdue scientists look for other recurring patterns in decay rates. As an expert of the inner workings of the sun, Sturrock had a hunch that solar neutrinos might hold the key to this mystery.

Sure enough, the researchers noticed the decay rates vary repeatedly every 33 days - a period of time that matches the rotational period of the core of the sun. The solar core is the source of solar neutrinos. It may all sound rather circumstantial, but these threads of evidence appear to lead to a common source of the radioactive decay rate variation.


But there's a huge problem with speculation that solar neutrinos could impact decay rates on Earth:

neutrinos aren't supposed to work like that.

Neutrinos, born from the nuclear processes in the core of the sun, are ghostly particles.


They can literally pass through the Earth unhindered as they so weakly interact. How could such a quantum welterweight have any measurable impact on radioactive samples in the lab?

In short, nobody knows.

If neutrinos are the culprits, it means we are falling terribly short of understanding the true nature of these subatomic particles. But if (and this is a big if) neutrinos aren't to blame, is the sun generating an as-yet-to-be- discovered particle?

If either case is true, we'll have to go back and re-write those textbooks.

The Sun Influences the Decay of Radioactive Elements
by Tudor Vieru
August 25, 2010

from News.Softpedia Website

In spite of being located no less than 93 million miles away from Earth, the Sun appears to be influencing the decay of radioactive elements inside research labs on the planet.

The conclusion belongs to a new investigation, which was carried out by experts at the Purdue University and the Stanford University.

The problem with the result is that the answer the team provides for this unexpected mystery appears to be raising other questions in return.

According to the physicists in the new research, it could even be that the Sun is exerting its influence on radioactive matter through an elementary particle that has never been detected before.

“That would be truly remarkable,” explains Stanford professor emeritus of applied physics and solar expert Peter Sturrock.

He was a part of the group that conducted the work.

According to established theories, the decay of a specific radioactive material is a constant. This idea is used to determine what radiation doses to give to cancer patients, as well as to calculate the age of samples using carbon-14.

Researchers at the Purdue University now contest the idea that the constant exist, basing their claim on a series of experiments which show the existence of disagreements in the measured decay rates of various radioactive isotopes.

The new data, proposed by Purdue physics professor Ephraim Fischbach, was tested and confirmed by teams at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the Federal Physical and Technical Institute, in Germany,

These two labs also found that small seasonal variations existed in the decay rates of the chemical elements silicon-32 and radium-226. Researchers here found that decay rates during the summer season were slightly faster than those present during winter. Even if the differences are minute, the basic rule of a constant, which is being, well, constant, are broken.


The finding could have significant implications.

The teams at the BNL and the FPTI began wondering whether the differences occurred on account of computer hardware, or some other device used in the measurement.

“Everyone thought it must be due to experimental mistakes, because we're all brought up to believe that decay rates are constant,” Sturrock explains

“It doesn't make sense according to conventional ideas,” Fischbach explains.

“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,” says Sturrock.

It may very well be that the interaction between the Sun and radioactive materials is caused by a new, yet-undiscovered particle, physicists say.

“It's an effect that no one yet understands,” Sturrock concludes.

Mysteriously, Solar Activity Found to Influence Behavior of Radioactive Materials On Earth
by Rebecca Boyle
August 25, 2010

from PopSci Website

How's this for spooky action at a distance? The sun, at 93 million miles away, appears to be influencing the decay of radioactive elements inside the Earth, researchers say.

Given what we know about radioactivity and solar neutrinos, this should not happen. It's so bizarre that a couple scientists at Stanford and Purdue universities believe there's a chance that a previously unknown solar particle is behind it all.


The big news, according to Stanford's news service, is that the core of the sun - where nuclear reactions produce neutrinos - spins more slowly than the surface.


This phenomenon might explain changing rates of radioactive decay scientists observed at two separate labs. But it does not explain why the decay-change happens. That violates the laws of physics as we know them.

While examining data on radioactive isotopes, Purdue researchers found disagreement in measured decay rates, which goes against the long-accepted belief that these rates are constant. While searching for an explanation, the scientists came across other research that noted seasonal variation in these decay rates.


Apparently radioactivity is stronger in winter than in summer. A 2006 solar flare suggested the sun was involved somehow.


Purdue University nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins noticed the decay rate of a medical isotope dropped during the solar flare, and what's more, the decline started before the flare did. The latter finding could be useful for protecting satellites and astronauts - if there is a correlation between decay rates and solar activity, changed decay rates could provide early warning of an impending solar storm.

But while that's good news for astronauts, it's bad news for physics.

Peter Sturrock, Stanford emeritus professor of applied physics and an expert on the inner workings of the sun, told the researchers to look for evidence that the changes in radioactive decay vary with the rotation of the sun. The answer was yes, suggesting that neutrinos are responsible.

But how could the nebulous neutrino, which does not interact with normal matter, be affecting decay rates? No one knows. It might be a previously unknown particle instead.

As Jenkins puts it,

"What we're suggesting is that something that doesn't really interact with anything is changing something that can't be changed."

Though disaster movies would have you believe otherwise, we should not yet worry about solar neutrinos warming the core of the Earth. But perhaps we should worry that our understanding of the sun - and perhaps our understanding of nuclear physics in general - is a lot weaker than we thought.

The Sun Can Lob Curveballs
by Phil Berardelli

23 September 2010

from News.ScienceMag Website

Sandy Koufax has a solar equivalent. The great former Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher was famous for his ferocious curveball.


Now scientists have discovered that powerful bursts of magnetism emanating from sunspots near the poles of the sun can be arced back toward Earth by the solar magnetic field. The finding creates another potential headache for people who run or rely on GPS satellites, telecommunications networks, and power grids, but it also means more reliable warnings about these electromagnetic disturbances.

The sun's coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are of more than just scientific interest. When these gigantic bursts of electrically charged, extremely hot gas particles hit satellites, they can disrupt TV and radio transmissions, GPS signals, and cell phone calls.


They can also overload electric power grids on the ground and pose a radiation hazard for astronauts in orbit.



One recent U.S. National Academy of Sciences study of the potential hazards from a major CME hitting Earth estimated that the damage could total more than a trillion dollars and require up to 10 years to repair.


Scientists have spent years attempting to track CMEs and provide enough warning to allow precautions, such as placing satellites in temporary safe modes.

So an international team analyzing data from NASA's twin STEREO spacecrafts, which provide three-dimensional observations of solar activity, made an important discovery when they noticed something that had been predicted but never observed:

CMEs launched into space from the sun's high latitudes following trajectories that brought them back toward the solar system's equatorial plane - where Earth resides.

"We were really surprised and thought something might be wrong with our algorithms," says solar physicist Peter Gallagher of Trinity College Dublin.

Further analyses revealed, however, that the curving solar storm tracks were accurate.


CMEs emerging from sunspots located at latitudes of 60˚ or higher, north and south, can have their tracks bent by the sun's magnetic field and pushed out toward the planets by the 500-kilometer-per-second solar wind.


Gallagher and colleagues report this week in Nature Communications that the magnetic fields of CMEs also affect their trajectories.


These fields tend to rotate, and their rotation can either sharpen the curve of the trajectory or flatten it out, depending on whether the CME is traveling slower or faster than the solar wind at the moment. The result is that, just like the breaking curveballs by a Major League pitcher, the bent tracks of CMEs can vary.

Gallagher, who used to compile solar-activity warnings for NASA, says the findings mean that space-weather forecasters need to watch high-latitude ejections more carefully.


The normal reaction when CMEs emerge from the polar regions has been to think,

"that they're going to miss us."

The new data show that isn't the case.

The imaging process the researchers have developed to track CMEs is "quite innovative,” says Madhulika Guhathakurta, a solar physicist with NASA's STEREO mission in Washington, D.C.


The ability to track even curving CMEs through space,

"is of great benefit to forecasters of space weather," adds Guhathakurta, who was not involved in the research.

The researchers have,

"clearly shown that [solar] storms launched initially at high latitudes can still affect us at Earth," says solar physicist William Thompson, a contractor for the STEREO mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Thompson adds that although scientists have long known 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."