This story is from the Aug. 23, 2010 issue of Stanford Report.
When researchers found an unusual linkage between solar flares and the inner life of radioactive elements on Earth, it touched off a scientific detective investigation that could end up protecting the lives of space-walking astronauts and maybe rewriting some of the assumptions of physics.
It’s a mystery that presented itself unexpectedly: The radioactive decay of some elements sitting quietly in laboratories on Earth seemed to be influenced by activities inside the sun, 93 million miles away.
Is this possible?
Researchers from Stanford and Purdue universities believe it is. But their explanation of how it happens opens the door to yet another mystery.
There is even an outside chance that this unexpected effect is brought about by a previously unknown particle emitted by the sun. “That would be truly remarkable,” said Peter Sturrock, Stanford professor emeritus of applied physics and an expert on the inner workings of the sun.
To those who have been following the work of Russian researchers Simon Shnoll and others, this comes as no surprise. They have found from about 30 years ago that the rate of radioactive decay of Plutonium shows yearly, monthly and daily cycles (including both siderial and synodic days).
My own research using the Russian data also shows 3 and 6 minute cycles in Plutonium decay rate, something that I predicted before the analysis. These periods are are not stable in phase over periods longer than about an hour. In my opinion these cycles are connected intimately with the solar 5 minute cycles and the spacings of the inner planets (approximately on the nodes of a 5.5 minute standing wave).