More follow up on the solar-neutrinos-radioactive decay story – experimental falsification


Getting out of the solar core, neutrinos are speed demons, photons are slugs. h/t to Leif Svalgaard for the graphical annotation inspiration. Solar core image from NASA.

In August, WUWT carried a story that was rather shocking: some physicists published claims they have detected a variation in earthly radioactive decay rates, big news by itself, but the shocker is they attributed it to solar neutrinos.

The findings attracted immediate attention because they seemed to violate two known basic facts of physics:

1. Radioactive decay is a constant

2. Neutrinos very rarely interact with matter and are hard to detect when they do.
For example: trillions of the neutrinos are zipping through your body right now. So why would they interact with radioactive elements in a more detectable way?

WUWT carried a follow-up story, citing doubts. Now there’s confirmation via experiment that the initial doubt was a fluke.

From the NIST: Research Shows Radiometric Dating Still Reliable (Again)

Recent puzzling observations of tiny variations in nuclear decay rates have led some to question the science of using decay rates to determine the relative ages of rocks and organic materials. Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), working with researchers from Purdue University, the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Wabash College, tested the hypothesis that solar radiation might affect the rate at which radioactive elements decay and found no detectable effect.

Atoms of radioactive isotopes are unstable and decay over time by shooting off particles at a fixed rate, transmuting the material into a more stable substance. For instance, half the mass of carbon-14, an unstable isotope of carbon, will decay into nitrogen-14 over a period of 5,730 years. The unswerving regularity of this decay allows scientists to determine the age of extremely old organic materials—such as remains of Paleolithic campfires—with a fair degree of precision. The decay of uranium-238, which has a half-life of nearly 4.5 billion years, enabled geologists to determine the age of the Earth.

Many scientists, including Marie and Pierre Curie, Ernest Rutherford and George de Hevesy, have attempted to influence the rate of radioactive decay by radically changing the pressure, temperature, magnetic field, acceleration, or radiation environment of the source. No experiment to date has detected any change in rates of decay.

Recently, however, researchers at Purdue University observed a small (a fraction of a percent), transitory deviation in radioactive decay at the time of a huge solar flare. Data from laboratories in New York and Germany also have shown similarly tiny deviations over the course of a year. This has led some to suggest that Earth’s distance from the sun, which varies during the year and affects the planet’s exposure to solar neutrinos, might be related to these anomalies.

Researchers from NIST and Purdue tested this by comparing radioactive gold-198 in two shapes, spheres and thin foils, with the same mass and activity. Gold-198 releases neutrinos as it decays. The team reasoned that if neutrinos are affecting the decay rate, the atoms in the spheres should decay more slowly than the atoms in the foil because the neutrinos emitted by the atoms in the spheres would have a greater chance of interacting with their neighboring atoms. The maximum neutrino flux in the sample in their experiments was several times greater than the flux of neutrinos from the sun. The researchers followed the gamma-ray emission rate of each source for several weeks and found no difference between the decay rate of the spheres and the corresponding foils.

According to NIST scientist emeritus Richard Lindstrom, the variations observed in other experiments may have been due to environmental conditions interfering with the instruments themselves.

“There are always more unknowns in your measurements than you can think of,” Lindstrom says.

* R.M. Lindstrom, E. Fischbach, J.B. Buncher, G.L. Greene, J.H. Jenkins, D.E. Krause, J.J. Mattes and A. Yue. Study of the dependence of 198Au half-life on source geometry. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment. doi:10.1016/j.nima.2010.06.270

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90 Responses to More follow up on the solar-neutrinos-radioactive decay story – experimental falsification

  1. Peter Sørensen says:

    This is just a falsification that neutrinoes affect radioactive decay and not a falsification of the sun influencing the decay rate. There might be other mechanisems at work here.

  2. wesley bruce says:

    Radioactive decay is not a constant it is a rarely changing variable. There’s is a strong and growing body of evidence that something is changing the decay rates and branching ratios in several reaction. The mainstream is trying to ignore the data from repeated replications of the Fleischmann Pons effect and other similar work. http://www.lenr-canr.org/ covers this work. so does http://www.infinite-energy.com/ but it ventures way out side the box.
    There is also the Rate work that proved that there’s an anomaly in granite. The granite has not got enough He trapped in it to correspond with the decay path assumed and the he cant leak out significantly. http://austore.creation.com/catalog/radioisotopes-earth-p-241.html?osCsid=jfk3m3r1a11phme50m2620l1v3
    Yes its creationist work because only someone already out side the box is allowed to look at this stuff.
    When accelerations occur we are not talking about the normal decay pathway being spend up. We are talking about the elements skipping to another path that has the same products.
    Those testing this phenomenon need to look at the polonium halo work and embed an isotope in silicon or quartz. As the decay paths switch they will get high electrons decay products burning rings in the silicate. The radius from the sample will give you the new decay path.
    While most here are able to ‘think out side the box’ on climate there’s is a strong tendency to run back into the box and lock your self in when cosmology or origins comes up. Be brave enough to look through Galileo’s telescope. Only by not looking can you be blind to the future of science. The truths you were taught are not all that robust. The lies you were taught are falling. Your in the loop on the fall of the climate change myth, The same people in academia fight tooth and nail against creationism, cold fusion and the non big bang cosmologies. If their wrong on one why not all three. All three are looking at variable decay rates in different contexts.

  3. anna v says:

    Now there’s confirmation via experiment that the initial doubt was a fluke.
    Not “doubt”, you must mean “measurement” .
    Or, “the initial doubts were valid” is another way of saying this.

    An interesting experiment, that by passes the standard model of physics, it says: suppose neutrinos do more than the standard model attributes to them, let us measure it. Very good.

    As I said in the previous thread, if the effect is not the result of unknown errors entering the mix, I think it might be proof that the space time changed at that time, changing the decay constants. Maybe the sun system hit some dark matter :).

  4. Spector says:

    That 200,000 year solar photon escape time suggests there must be a very strong solar ‘greenhouse effect’ there. “It’s the sun …”

  5. vukcevic says:

    This is my post at the time:
    Despite my hypotheses of Sun- Earth electro-magnetic linkage I am sceptic on this particular issue, at least until we know more details.
    Radio active decay produces alpha and beta particles and gamma rays.
    - Alpha particle consists of protons neutrons usually bound together into a particle identical to a helium nucleus.
    - Beta particles are high-energy, high-speed electrons or positrons
    - gamma rays are electromagnetic radiation of high frequency.
    Alpha and beta are charged particles and both are deflected by the geomagnetic field, which varies with seasons and during strong flares may even change as much as 10% depending on latitude. The effect would be greatest on the alpha particles since they can travel only a few centimetres in the air. It is the gamma radiation intensity which is the critical factor in ascertaining stability of its decay.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/23/teleconnected-solar-flares-to-earthly-radioactive-decay/#comment-465161

  6. a jones says:

    Well as I said in my original comment if true it was interesting but my gut instinct was that it was a digital difficulty: otherwise known as finger trouble.

    And in a later post I pointed out that the first thing to do was to try and verify it using different measuring techniques to see whether it was real or an artifact of the measuring technique used. Because that is what physics and science is all about.

    So now we have the answer.

    Kindest Regards.

  7. David, UK says:

    How refreshing to see Normal Science at work. Repeat the experiment to see if the original results are replicated, and if they are not replicated then the hypothesis is thrown out. And no one throws their dummy out of the pram in the process.

  8. wesley bruce says:

    The Gold-198 work is useful but probably does not help. If it is neutrinos then we would expect that something in the earth or moon has slowed them down. There are several neutron bases reactions that will not occur with fast neutrons but will if something, heavy water, slows them down. we barely know what the earth’s core is made of. Iron nickel but in what state. What are its properties relative to a passing Neutrino. What slows down a neutrino this is the 64 dollar question.
    Note Gold 198 decays by losing a neutron what we would be looking for is a decay path that stabilises the isotope by converting an excess proton into a neutron via the quantum capture of both a neutron and an inner orbital electron. Turning gold into mercury. Reverse Alchemy. In half the non big bang theories the neutrino is a high energy high frequency photon like non particle that is the orbital velocity of the bound sub nuclear electron in the neutron. I.E. The Neutron is a proton and a electron bound at the neutron diameter with a binging energy and velocity of the neutrino mass in E=MC^2 Like light it it is emitted because the electron can’t carry the change in velocity as energy.
    It goes to basic logic that if neutrinos exist as either a particle with mass or a photon with only energy there must be a sink to match the source otherwise we would be bathed with an infinite flux and would never have localised the source. Since we detect them via detecting an event where they are captured in water then why is it inconceivable that they world react with planetary core to slow down or once slowed would react more readily with an isotope. As with climatology it is not the theory that is obviously wrong but the assumptions that precede the theory.

  9. Grey Lensman says:

    Where is the observations, the experimental proof, that protons take 200,000 years to travel from the core to the surface.

    How do you falsify that which you cannot observe or measure. you cant, you have to either take it on trust or rely on maths. Well maths proved the earth centric view of the solar system!

    So that leaves you with a pretty lame hypothesis but a good story.

  10. Most probably, neutrinos have nothing to do with deviations in radioactive decay during solar flares. The very existence of neutrinos is under question; it hasn’t been proven in any experiment.

    I think the same relativistic effect that makes aluminum-ion clocks diverge at different heights (at different distances from the large concentration of energy/mass) is the reason for these observed deviations in radioactive decay. Solar flares are quick and large changes in energy/mass distribution.

    Of course, in its own system of space-time coordinates the rate of decay is constant for any given source. But there is always a distance, however small, between the observers and the source. Time always flows somewhat differently in different points of space (or, conversely, distances always measure somewhat differently at different moments of time). A curvature of the space-time is changing when a local distribution of mass is changing. Hence the observed change of the rate of decay.

  11. Kiminori Itoh says:

    I think one of the points is if they have detected neutrinos from super novae, which for instance the KAMIOKANDE did.

  12. Jon says:

    OK, so newly created neutrinos don’t affect radioactive decay rates. That seems to be all this experiment proves.
    What about all the other types of comic-rays and their decay products that shower down through us? Aren’t the intensity of these modulated by the Sun’s magnetic field?

  13. Mike Haseler says:

    “There are always more unknowns in your measurements than you can think of,” Lindstrom says.”

    Never a truer word has been said … particularly if applied to climate “science”!

  14. John A says:

    The comments to this story are depressingly unscientific and rather paranoid.

    At the moment, no-one has replicated Fischbach et al’s result and there have been several independent tests which have shown no similar effect. Since Fischbach refuses to allow access to the original data, we can only hypothesize a systematic effect on the experiments.

  15. Louis Hissink says:

    “This is just a falsification that neutrinoes affect radioactive decay and not a falsification of the sun influencing the decay rate. There might be other mechanisems at work here.”

    Correct – the only field physics has not tested radiogenic decay in is a changed electric field test. We have tested the magnetic, gravitational, temperature, pressure but not the electric field, yet every experiment testing the other fields was in the earth’s ambient electric field.

  16. Dave Springer says:

    known basic facts of physics:
    1. Radioactive decay is a constant

    That’s not a fact although it’s widely regarded as one. Hence the surprise.

    It’s really just an assumption based on a large but finite number of observations in a small window of time and space. It’s a hypothetical like Popper’s “all swans are white” subject to falsification by a contrary observation. Contrary observations came to light at least a few years ago and are undergoing scrutiny as they should be.

  17. Joe Lalonde says:

    Still no mention of rotational effects that would curve this plane and the other slower photon has to rotate around.

  18. Anthony, your second of the “basic facts of physics” states: “For example: trillions of the neutrinos are zipping through your body right now.” That should be corrected to read: “For example: billions of the neutrinos are zipping through your body right now.

  19. John A says:

    known basic facts of physics:
    1. Radioactive decay is a constant

    That’s not a fact although it’s widely regarded as one. Hence the surprise.

    It’s really just an assumption based on a large but finite number of observations in a small window of time and space. It’s a hypothetical like Popper’s “all swans are white” subject to falsification by a contrary observation. Contrary observations came to light at least a few years ago and are undergoing scrutiny as they should be.

    No. Radioactive decay is a quantum process which is entirely random. It is not simply an assumption, but also a prediction from an extremely well-attested physical theory.

    The most parsimonious solution is that the original producers of the data had a systematic error in their experiments. When other equally-well done experiments have also found no effect, then the money’s on experimental error and not new physics.

  20. wayne says:

    From the previous article:

    “Checking data collected at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island and the Federal Physical and Technical Institute in Germany, they came across something even more surprising: long-term observation of the decay rate of silicon-32 and radium-226 seemed to show a small seasonal variation. The decay rate was ever so slightly faster in winter than in summer.”

    This is the original claim. It directly implies that being closer to the sun in winter, where the neutrino flux is greater, speeds up the decay rate. That is what I logically assumed they meant and it made sense. More neutrinos, greater decay rate if this were an actual effect of neutrinos hitting nuclei enhancing decay rates.

    However, reading this article carefully, the following is the statement by NIST and Purdue that is testing on logic that the exact opposite that which the original team is claiming. They say the sphere would have a flux across atoms within the sphere which is greater that that with the foil, and that is correct, but they were looking for SLOWER rate of decay with greater flux. If I’m not mistaken, it is exactly opposite orientation of the experiment. Now if they can’t even keep the sign of the rates correct, should we assume their tests are perfect correct in spite? (or was this just written by a reported that didn’t really know what he was writing about in the first place) Hmm…

    ”The team reasoned that if neutrinos are affecting the decay rate, the atoms in the spheres should decay more slowly than the atoms in the foil because the neutrinos emitted by the atoms in the spheres would have a greater chance of interacting with their neighboring atoms.”

    Now they say they see zero difference so, if correct, tends to disprove the effect no matter what the orientation is, faster or slower but it would be great if they would at least keep the logic correct.

  21. Joe Lalonde says:

    John A says:
    Excellent.

    Many people believe theories and Laws are absolute and cannot be incorrect.
    Meanwhile back at the lab….

  22. kzb says:

    I’m skeptical of the neutrino effect. If the decay rates are changed as much as claimed (0.1%), that is caused by a 7% variability in the neutron flux as the Earth goes round its orbit. That is, the dependence is about 70:1. That is pretty high for a particle that can travel through light-years of lead.

    What this interpretation of the experimental observations implies is that there is a significant cross-section for neutrino interactions, at least with radioactive atoms. Atoms that decay by two different mechanisms (Ra-226 by alpha, and Si-32 by beta) are involved.

    Now the planet Earth contains quite a bit of Ra-226, and loads of other radionuclides in the uranium and thorium decay chains, potassium-40, and the long-lived rare-earth nuclides. There must be a massive potential neutrino shield between us and the sun at night, which is not there in the daytime. If the theory is true, there should be a measurable diurnal variation in the solar neutrino flux at any given location (except the poles). I don’t think this has been observed, so I don’t believe the theory.

  23. wolfwalker says:

    John A: The comments to this story are depressingly unscientific and rather paranoid.

    Indeed. References to creationist pseudoscience, claims that neutrinos haven’t been observed … sheesh!

    Dave Springer: It’s really just an assumption based on a large but finite number of observations in a small window of time and space.

    And theoretical arguments that show some Really Really Bad side-effects would occur if radioactive decay rates were not constants. Add in the fact that those same theoretical arguments successfully predicted radioactivity in isotopes that everybody had previously thought were stable, and this particular bit of theory looks pretty solid.

  24. Eric Worrall says:

    The effect was obviously caused by the increased CO2 blanket around the Earth creating atomic instability by re-radiation of climate change inducing dark energy released by the solar flare.

    ;-)

  25. Brad says:

    OK, so that is indicative of the effect not being caused by neutrinos, but if the effect is real that means the decay rate is changing based on some particle or physical interaction we are CLUELESS about – more discturbing and crazy indded!

  26. ddpalmer says:

    This experiment is good as far as it goes, but does Au-198 produce neutrinos of the same type as the sun does? And did the original work hypothesize that all types of decay and all nuclides react the same to a neutrino flux?

    I don’t believe that there is an effect and it was all just experimental error, but other nuclides need to be tested in a similar way to the Au-198 testing and the type/mix of neutrinos needs to match, as close as possible, the sun’s neutrino flux.

    I did enjoy the humor of Wesley Bruce’s post, the claim that only ‘scientists’ who ‘think outside the box’ will work on this subject is just laughable. We hear the same chant from homeopaths and all types of psychics, just to name a few of the groups that use this argument. What vested interest are main stream physicists trying to protect? If it exists this effect would do nothing to support creationist claims; a fossil dates as 2 million years old may actually only by 1.999 million years old, oh no that would prove Evolutionary Theory wrong and the Bible right. It would however give physicists numerous new research possibilities and lead to many new theories. This would improve the field of physics and probably lead to more research dollars, so physicists would have a reason to embrace the new theory, if experiments back it up, rather than try and dismiss it.

  27. WebMonk says:

    Wow, way to bring out all the kooks, Anthony!

    “Well maths proved the earth centric view of the solar system!”
    “The very existence of neutrinos is under question; it hasn’t been proven in any experiment.”
    “The mainstream is trying to ignore the data from repeated replications of the Fleischmann Pons effect” (aka Cold Fusion)

    Everyone break out the tinfoil hats!

  28. Enneagram says:

    Let´s examine our patience first; let´s see his cardiogram:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/PolarFields.gif
    Why is he/she seemingly dying?. Well, polar fields ideally are, like alternate current:
    http://en.labs.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sine_cosine_plot.svg
    Then, when this happens, be it a Sun or a person, there must be some lower of voltage in the grid or a grave inteference.
    Call 911 better!

  29. Enneagram says:

    What we see it is only the emission field of the Sun, we can´t see it, really. In other words we are watching its blazing higher atmosphere: Its ionosphere.
    Ask then, what particles/radiation are emitted by an arc (short circuit) in an almost perfect vacuum environment?

  30. John Whitman says:

    Peter Sørensen
    September 27, 2010 at 12:40 am

    This is just a falsification that neutrinoes affect radioactive decay and not a falsification of the sun
    influencing the decay rate. There might be other mechanisms at work here.

    —–

    Peter Sørensen,

    I agree. But I would broaden your statement.

    If the original study/experiment that showed variation in radioactve decay rates of certain isotopes on earth is eventually replicated successfully and verified widely and repeatedly then there will be the very broad question of what causes it.

    Neutrino interaction may not be the cause as shown by this radioactve gold experiment.

    Then there would exist an opportunity for some serious focus on the search for a cause. I would enjoy following that potential story . . . if it starts.

    But first that original experiment showing variation in decay rates needs to be verified/replicated.

    John

  31. kim says:

    Code Neutrino, STAT. Paging Dr. Elektro. Slip the juice to me, Bruce.
    ======================

  32. kim says:

    Sunsfusion, sunsfusion; never, never, never gonna think again.
    ==================

  33. BarryW says:

    John A

    If Fischbach is withholding his data that is bad form, and anyone who follows this blog should know that. The problem I have is that replicating an experiment by doing something different does not disprove the original experiment! It would be like trying to replicate a high temperature superconductor experiment by using a different substance than the first experiment and claiming high temp superconductors don’t exist. It only shows that substance is not a high temp superconductor.

    The same is true here. If others have replicated the same experiment as Fischbach (assuming Fischbach provided enough information too preform a valid replication) and not gotten the same results then that is a different story.

  34. johnnythelowery says:

    IF only these people, and here’s a quote from the original post here at WUWT

    ‘…………..Ephraim Fischbach, a physics professor at Purdue, was looking into the rate of radioactive decay of several isotopes as a possible source of random numbers generated without any human input. (A lump of radioactive cesium-137, for example, may decay at a steady rate overall, but individual atoms within the lump will decay in an unpredictable, random pattern. Thus the timing of the random ticks of a Geiger counter placed near the cesium might be used to generate random numbers.)

    As the researchers pored through published data on specific isotopes, they found disagreement in the measured decay rates – odd for supposed physical constants.

    Checking data collected at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island and the Federal Physical and Technical Institute in Germany, they came across something even more surprising: long-term observation of the decay rate of silicon-32 and radium-226 seemed to show a small seasonal variation. The decay rate was ever so slightly faster in winter than in summer…………..’

    HAD HEARD OF THIS FROM THIS FOLLOW UP POST:

    ‘…..According to NIST scientist emeritus Richard Lindstrom, the variations observed in other experiments may have been due to environmental conditions interfering with the instruments themselves…..’

    We wouldn’t be having this conversation. I am sure the original scientists who broke this story, the first thing they thought of was instrument effects. As it was, this decay phenomenon had nothing to do with Neutrinos… as hypothesized here @ WUWT:

    ANNA darling: Hope you don’t mind me reciting your post here.
    ‘………anna v says:
    August 24, 2010 at 12:42 am
    Well, if you want this particle physicist’s opinion, assuming that the effect is real, it is a space time and gravity effect.

    Neutrinos interact very weakly with matter in general and certainly could not affect decay rates.

    The “decay rates are constant” is dependent on the assumption “space time is constant” i.e. gravity does not change. The same with the velocity of light, we call it constant, except it is so only where space time is stable. It is affected by the geometry of gravity.

    If the effect is real, it might be the first proof of gravitons, and in this sense the professor is right, except that the particles are not unknown but expected.

    Scenario: the nonuniform rotation of the inner sun core creates gravitational fields that radiate gravitons and induce flares because of compressions and relaxations of the plasma. Gravitons affect the decay rates where they pass ( atoms at earth bobbing up and down with the distortion of space time).

    An independent confirmation of such a scenario would be the measuring of the velocity of light on earth for a few sun rotations.

    I am good at guesses:) or what?……….’
    ————————————————————————————————————
    It ain’t Neutrinos according to Anna in the thread of the first post. The experiment above is a Straw-Man. We have to await Fermilab on this one….or Anna’s experiment she’s doing in her basement. Everyone else can……………….

  35. Grey Lensman says:

    So, the earthcentrics did not develop epicycles to explain the observed planetary movements?

    So fact becomes tin foil hat.

    So what does that make the “Man Made Global Warmers”?

  36. wayne says:

    Walter Schneider says:
    September 27, 2010 at 3:24 am

    Anthony, your second of the “basic facts of physics” states: “For example: trillions of the neutrinos are zipping through your body right now.” That should be corrected to read: “For example: billions of the neutrinos are zipping through your body right now.“

    I know Anthony picked one that says ‘billions right now’ but this one says 50 trillion per second through your body and probably has a better direct tie to physicists that know:
    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2007/neutrino.html

    REPLY: A billion here, a trillion there, pretty soon we are talking about real mass ;-) – Anthony

  37. Chad Woodburn says:

    Slower than a speeding slug.

    While the metaphor is apt and correct about photons being like slugs, I was curious to know which was faster: photons escaping the sun (using the figures in the picture) or a slug. The radius of the sun is 435,000 miles. That means that if a photon starts out in the center of the sun, and if it takes that photon 200,000 years to reach the surface of the sun, then its progress away from the center of the sun is 1.31 feet per hour. Slugs on the other hand travel at between 30 and 150 feet per hour. So, the slug wins, traveling between 23 and 115 times faster than the photon.

  38. Tim Huck says:

    All they have proven is that a sphere and sheet of material decay at the same rate. Their assumption is that there would be a difference, however, I’m not sure that disproves the original claim. The seasonal differences could apply equally to either a sphere or a sheet.

    They might have ruled out neutrinos.

  39. jorgekafkazar says:

    Peter Sørensen says: “This is just a falsification that neutrinoes affect radioactive decay and not a falsification of the sun influencing the decay rate. There might be other mechanisems at work here.”

    Certainly! Here at the Melvin Dumar Institute of Technology in Utah, we believe that orgone rays emitted from the sun interact with the ether, releasing radioactive phlogiston, which affects the decay rate. Robust. Unprecedented. QED.

    Do I really need to add “sarc-off?”

  40. JohnL says:

    If you get the sign wrong on a graviton, is it really a “lifton”? And would that cause the expansion rate of the universe to increase over time?

    …oh, never mind. That couldn’t happen, right?

  41. Enneagram says:

    Neutrinos are in the mind of the beholder :-)…..when wandering in the twilight zone

  42. Enneagram says:

    Or rather Neutrinos are the emission field of a neutral mind.

  43. Kevin says:

    I tried to catch a neutrino once. The d@#$ned thing went right through my hand! Neutrinos are very disconcerting.

  44. GeoFlynx says:

    Now look what you’ve done – we have all the 6000 year old Earthers coming out claiming scientific fraud! It won’t be long before we will have images of Moses riding a pteradactyl. Great!

  45. Dave Springer says:

    Chad Woodburn says:
    September 27, 2010 at 7:25 am

    “Slower than a speeding slug.”

    Thanks for the laugh! Good one.

  46. johnnythelowery says:

    The point I was trying to make..and probably didn’t very clearly, is:
    1. That thanks to a particle-physcist blogger here—ANNA… we felt very early that it aint’ any of the known 3 flavours of Neutrinos.
    2. And the guys that presented this paper…the first thing they thought of was probably: ‘we aint publishing this nonsense until we feel it absolutely wasn’t environmental conditions interfering with the instruments themselves every 29 days.’
    3. The rebuttal here is a straw man.

  47. Jason Calley says:

    Barry W says: “The problem I have is that replicating an experiment by doing something different does not disprove the original experiment! ”

    YES!! Doing something similar may be very interesting, and (depending on how similar) may be additional evidence that either supports or weakens the probablility of the original experiment being correct, but the only real proof or disproof comes through repeating the same experiment. That, of course, is the main reason why real scientists (as opposed to mere credentialed scam artists) must make both their experimental procedures, data, metadata, and analysis available. Only with that information can an experiment be verified or refuted. Any “science” which does not allow repetition for confirmation is not science, but is only unsupported assertion.

  48. Michael J. Dunn says:

    The issue about “slow” photons is really a symptom of their path lengths being extended by many absorptions and emissions, not that the speed of light has been drastically reduced within the Sun (though it may be reduced to some degree). This is illustrated by the excellent diagram at the opening of this post.

    Epicycles do exist, as can be found from Hill’s equations. (A satellite can be made to “orbit” another satellite, in the functional equivalent of an epicycle.) They are just less elegant than Kepler’s theory. Been there, done that.

    I was under the impression that neutrinos were manifestations of the weak force. The weak force mediates radioactive decay. It seems inherently plausible that, while neutrinos may have little effect on or interaction with stable nuclei, they may exhibit “resonances” with radioactive nuclei. Resonance effects are well known for neutron absorption in nuclear fission. (The weak force also seems to be linked with the electromagnetic force. Tinfoil berets, anyone?)

    Finally, no one likes the applecart to be upset…because it’s “their” applecart. Delve into Halton Arp’s struggle to reinterpret galactic redshift.

  49. George E. Smith says:

    Well if memory serves me; that Gold 198 beta decays to Mercury 198; which is a very nifty stuff to have around; but expensive to get.

    198Hg has one of the sharpest sets of spectral emission lines of any known nuclide. Something to do with no hyperfine structure or something like that.

    In any case the interference rings from a Fabry-Perot Etalon of the 198 Hg emission lines, are just beautifully sharp.

    But you have to make the 198Au first to get the 198Hg.

    I don’t remeber what my initial reactiont ot eh neutrino story was; but I’m no more surprised by this follow up.

  50. kcrucible says:

    To be perfectly clear, it was a HYPOTHESIS that neutrinos from the sun caused the observations.

    The experiment shows (presumably, since I haven’t gone into it in detail, but assume they’re competant at setting up the experiment) that neutrinos do not affect decay rate.

    The experiment does not show that the initial observations were incorrect, nor does it totally disprove that an unknown solar mechanism could be doing this. The experiment was a very narrow test used to isolate a neutrino mechanism. Lets not attribute more to the experiment than it actually tested. The initial observations MAY have been a fluke in randomness, but no experiment has been advanced yet to determine that.

  51. wayne says:
    September 27, 2010 at 3:54 am

    If they can’t keep the sign correct, why worry about the rate at which neutrinos are being produced (more than 200 trillion trillion trillion per second) by the Sun, or, even more importantly, if we don’t give a darn about 12 orders of magnitude, why worry about relatively infinitesimal fluctuations in the rate at which neutrinos are being intercepted?

    If we don’t worry about any of that, why worry about any “facts” or about whether the “facts” are real?

    More at http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/public/neutrino.html

  52. Dave Springer says:

    John A says:
    September 27, 2010 at 3:40 am

    “Radioactive decay is a quantum process which is entirely random.”

    A random constant. That makes sense to you?

    There are four observations I’m aware of that as of yet have no confirmed explanation. Anna V (this thread) mentioned gravity and time dilation as more likely than neutrino flux then half joked about passing through more or less dark matter. Might as well throw dark energy in there too.

    We already know gravity and time dilation will do the trick. Atomic clocks in GPS system have to be corrected for slight changes in earth gravity on its ground path and for the difference in velocity between ground based clocks and satellite clock.

    I wonder if there are any blips in GPS clocks that correspond with solar flares?

    1) seasonal variation in measured decay rates
    2) variation during a solar disturbance
    3) unexpected performance curves in RTG power supplies of satellites that have left the solar system
    4) unexpected deviation in RTG performance during slingshot maneuvers

    The satellite power supply is the most interesting IMO because those things are hideously expensive in both manufacturing cost and mission influence because they take up half or more of the weight of the satellite greatly limiting the science objectives that can be acheived. Pretty much all the information about those RTGs is public information and they were exceptionally well modeled, engineered, and individually characterized to exacting standards prior to launch with decades of data on actual performance of the RTG. There are also unexplained deviations in RTG performance in slingshot maneuvers.

    Anna V mentioned a possible space-time explanation

  53. John F. Hultquist says:

    The elements are full of surprises. Thus, if the claim is that “the decay rate of silicon-32 and radium-226 seemed to show a small seasonal variation”, then one ought to test these isotopes for the seasonal variation, not gold-198 in a contrived setting. “What you don’t know that you don’t know” should be a warning sign taped above the screen of every scientist.

  54. Dave Springer says:

    Well by golly there ARE unexplained cyclical variations in GPS clocks. 2008 paper by US Naval Research Laboratory:

    Characterization of Periodic Variations
    in the GPS Satellite Clocks

    ABSTRACT

    The clock products of the International Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Service (IGS) are used to characterize the timing performance of the
    GPS satellites. Using 5-minute and 30-second observational samples and focusing only on the sub-daily regime, approximate power-law stochastic processes are
    found. The Block IIA Rb and Cs clocks obey predominantly random walk phase (or white frequency) noise processes. The Rb clocks are up to nearly an order
    of magnitude more stable and show a flicker phase noise component over intervals shorter than about 100 s. Due to the onboard Time Keeping System in the
    newer Block IIR and IIR-M satellites, their Rb clocks behave in a more complex way: as an apparent random walk phase process up to about 100 s then changing
    to flicker phase up to a few thousand seconds. Superposed on this random background, periodic signals have been detected in all clock types at four harmonic
    frequencies, n × (2.0029 ± 0.0005) cycles per day (24 hr UTC), for n =1, 2, 3, and 4. The equivalent fundamental period is 11.9826 ± 0.0030 hours, which surprisingly
    differs from the reported mean GPS orbital period of 11.9659 ± 0.0007 hours by 60 ± 11 s. We cannot account for this apparent discrepancy but note that a
    clear relationship between the periodic signals and the orbital dynamics is evidenced for some satellites by modulations of the spectral amplitudes with eclipse
    season. All four harmonics are much smaller for the IIR and IIR-M satellites than for the older blocks. Awareness of the periodic variations can be used to improve
    the clock modeling, including for interpolation of tabulated IGS products for higher-rate GPS positioning and for predictions in real-time applications. This is
    especially true for high-accuracy uses, but could also benefit the standard GPS operational products. The observed stochastic properties of each satellite clock
    type are used to estimate the growth of interpolation and prediction errors with time interval.

  55. John F. Hultquist says:

    Just above the comments (there were 51 at the time) is a thumbnail image and the phrase “One blogger likes this post.” This seems to be a self-serving plug for this person’s blog and commercial services. As such, it is misleading.

  56. Enneagram says:

    anna v says:
    September 27, 2010 at 12:45 am

    -Atoms, if not ionized, are neutral.
    -Atoms are elements.
    -Elements are ordered in a table, after Mendeleev, which has proved to be extrapolated to find new elements of higher atomic numbers/weights.
    -Neutrons and neutrinos are neutral.
    -Then, by the same token, the table of the elements can be extrapolated, also, to those neutral bodies of lighter weight/lower number.
    -Neutrons and neutrinos are elements of lower weigh/number than Hydrogen, the first element of the table of elements.
    -Thus, a neutrinos’ table would include a series similar to the original table of the elements we know.
    -We know, also, that, according to Planck’s law, the smaller their size, i.e.wavelength, the shortest its wavelength, the higher its frequency, the higher the energy.
    -Now, we buy some popcorn and wait for some intelligent guys, here at WUWT, to provide us with a whole table of neutrons and neutrinos.
    -Note: If somebody is interested in the extrapolation of the table of the elements to higher weights/numbers I would not recommend it, as that somebody would be doing politics. :-)

  57. Pascvaks says:

    Let’s hope the August ‘observation’ was correct, or not. Time will tell. One day, perhaps soon, we’ll have a better handle on this subject (and a few thousand others). Nothing is settled. (Well, not much;-)

  58. DesertYote says:

    WebMonk
    September 27, 2010 at 5:45 am

    Wow, way to bring out all the kooks, Anthony!

    “Well maths proved the earth centric view of the solar system!”
    #
    I think you miss-understood the point that was being made by Grey Lensman. Math was indeed used in an attempt to prove terracentricity. It was an abuse of math, as math far more elegantly demonstrates the existence of a heliocentric solar system. Problem was, proponents of both views were still modeling orbits as circles. I am pretty sure Grey was trying to say that real data always trumps a model.

  59. Enneagram says:

    DesertYote says:
    September 27, 2010 at 11:31 am
    And orbits are still circles turned into ellipsoids by wave interference/emission field.

  60. Perhaps, WebMonk could produce a description of an experiment that positively proves the existence of neutrino? I’d be interested in being enlightened on this subject.

    Otherwise, I don’t understand, why moderators allow here infantile comments that make this site smell like a club of foul-mouthed teenagers. Openness and all-inclusive approach are good and well but we don’t want WUWT to look lie Yahoo or U-tube comment pages, do we?

  61. kuhnkat says:

    ” The team reasoned that if neutrinos are affecting the decay rate, the atoms in the spheres should decay more slowly than the atoms in the foil because the neutrinos emitted by the atoms in the spheres would have a greater chance of interacting with their neighboring atoms. ”

    The team reasoned… Is that all ya got??

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  62. kuhnkat says:

    I’m sorry, but, where did they show any real connection between their reasoning and the experiment??

  63. DeepTrout says:

    So, 2012 was just a movie? Neutrinos didn’t change character and start heating the Earth’s core like a microwave?

    Inquiring minds want to know… http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20091123080110AAjfNGW

  64. Peter Sørensen says:

    jorgekafkazar says:
    Certainly! Here at the Melvin Dumar Institute of Technology in Utah, we believe that orgone rays emitted from the sun interact with the ether, releasing radioactive phlogiston, which affects the decay rate. Robust. Unprecedented. QED.

    Do I really need to add “sarc-off?”

    I am realy just stating the obvious, Team 2 did not falsify the results of Team 1 they only found that the reason could not be neutrinoes. Your attitude and language is very unpleasant. If this was my blog I would definitely snip your comments…….

  65. DesertYote says:

    Enneagram
    September 27, 2010 at 11:53 am

    And orbits are still circles turned into ellipsoids by wave interference/emission field.
    #
    huh ???

  66. Phil M2. says:

    The whole neutrino meme has worn too thin for me. The ‘almost’ mass-less undetectable particles originally only came in vanilla but now come in many flavours. Each new flavour props up a part of the standard model. I think it’s time to call B***S**T on the neutrino and start looking for the truth. Maybe they will discover another quark to prop it up again hiding with the hidden ocean warmth but I only have the snark quark for this now.

    Sorry.

  67. anna v says:

    People who think neutrinos have not been measured, do not know what measurement means.

    Each of us is sitting in a body “looking” out by the use of innumerable chemical and electromagnetic sensors. There is no guarantee that what we individually see is what all of us see. There is a convention that we see the same reality. Miraculously we managed to define quantities like distance, time, mass and to develop mathematical models to treat with them. Does the fact that everything ends up as a representation in our individual brains invalidate the common definitions?

    Elementary particles are one extra level below the everyday level, but again their existence is established by measures we have defined that depend on proxies that allow their existence, like traces on film or complicated electromechanical systems. Neutrinos exist not by leaving traces, but by the necessity of conserving basic physics laws for the traces of the rest of the produced particles. This is just another proxy in the complicated system of the microcosm we are exploring.

    The standard model is a self consistent mathematical system that describes measurements up to now. It is an elegant shorthand of summing measurements up to the present.
    There might be new breakthroughs that would require a larger/different model, but that possible new model would encompass and incorporate the standard model.

  68. Peter Melia says:

    I’m curious about that photon shown in the picture, the brown jiggly line representing a 200,000 years journey.
    So, the photon starts off at the core of the sun, and after a while changed (…is forced to? What forced it?) course 180 degrees, so that it is returning to base, then it changed (see previous parenthesis) course about 100 degrees and so on….
    Now, my question is, what caused this little photon, this fundamental particle, to change course?
    Changing course should have resulted in it’s losing energy, but as, so we are told, it’s energy is minimum anyway, what is it’s new, post course-change, energy level?
    This photonic energy depletion goes on for 200,000 years. How does the energy of the photon emerging from the sun’s surface compare with it’s original energy, in the sun’s core?

  69. R.S.Brown says:

    Replication

    A layman’s opinion:

    The best and most scientific way to refute the effect of variations
    in decay rates of selective radioactive isotopes as reported by Jenkins
    and Fischbach is to replicate the conditions under which the
    data they used was originally generated by:

    Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island and the Federal
    Physical and Technical Institute in Germany for:

    1. silicon-32,
    2. radium-226,

    using the same or similar equipment as those two labs;

    And at Purdue by nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins, for

    3. manganese-54.

    Serious experimenters would attempt to match conditions similar
    to the Perdue data acquisition:

    A. Proximity of the earth to the sun on Dec 13, 2006,

    B. During a solar flare of the same or greater strength as
    occurred on Dec. 13, 2006,

    C. Using the same or similar equipment as Jenkins.

    The Brookhaven Nation Lab and the Federal Physical and Technical
    Institute studies were essentially longitudinal in nature. The Jenkins
    magnesium-54 data from Perdue was a short term (days) event
    under specific astronomical conditions.

    The NIST study of gold-198 indicates, “the researchers followed
    the gamma-ray emission rate of each [of two] source[s] for several
    weeks.”.

    To date, nothing seems to have answered the question was/is the
    effect “merely a glitch in the equipment used to measure the decay,
    induced by the change of seasons, with the accompanying changes
    in temperature and humidity?” at Perdue, Long Island, and Germany.

    Why would the long term decay rate data from both Brookhaven
    and Germany show seasonal variations?

    So far, we’re seeing competent scientists make not-so-scientific
    comparisons of oranges, pears, and golden apples of the sun.

  70. Jim Barker says:

    anna v says:
    September 27, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    People who think neutrinos have not been measured, do not know what measurement means.

    Thank you, Anna.

  71. Anna V,

    My late father, Abram Fet, was one of the founders of the so-called “standard model.” Back in the 1970s he developed, together with professor Ruhmer, the theory of the unitary symmetry of elementary particles, which is the basis of the modern “standard model.”

    Whenever we talked about neutrinos, he would smile, saying that nobody really knows if such a thing really exists. “It’s just a name for an effect that we observe but cannot explain,” he would say, “calculation and theorizing cannot replace experimental results. Intuition tells me that they will never find a neutrino. It’s too convenient. Theoreticians prefer convenience; nature, on the other hand, usually is not as accommodating as they would prefer.”

    Don’t make hasty conclusions about people — and about science. It just may be that others know much more than you expect or even imagine.

  72. jaymam says:

    In the original WUWT story I expressed my skepticism of variation in radioactive decay, by my comment about April 1st.
    I now coin the word Sciencedar, which does not appear to be in use yet.
    Have you ever read one of those Scientific American spoofs with growing disbelief until you realise that it’s April 1st?
    So how is your Sciencedar, readers? It’s very useful when reading about the latest of many things allegedly caused by Global Warming or whatever that is called this week.

  73. Stephen Amsel says:

    I’m not convinced by the falsifying test:

    Radioactive decay, I understand, is often triggered by Beta decay, where a neutron decays into an electron, a proton, and an anti-neutrino. This changes the proton/neutron makeup of the nucleus rendering it unstable and causing it to break up into more stable nuclei. In the sun, fusion involves the conversion of protons into neutrons. The by-products include positrons and neutrinos.

    An anti-neutrino, which can only take a positive charge (and turn into a positron) will not interact with a neutron (except, rarely, by bouncing off). A neutrino, however, can take a negative charge and trigger beta-decay (except with a neutrino going into the reaction rather than an anti-neutrino coming out). Unless gold-128 has an abnormal decay-mechanism, I don’t think the effect of anti-neutrinos would tell us anything about the effect of neutrinos. I suspect to test this properly, we would have to sustain a fusion-reaction near a radioactive element that we measure.

  74. Steve says:

    This comment section is quite the illustration of Kuhn’s description of the nature of scientific revolutions. Particularly in the psychology of the defense of the dominant operant paradigm.

    From what V and Feht are saying, it would appear that neutrinos are the equivalent (in a sense) of epicycles (not really fair to epicycles which are observable (but an artifact of perception)) – they are fudge factors to sustain the dominant operant paradigm. It is good to remember that. At some point some minor adjustment or major revolution will result in a more elegant description, one without fudge factors (and then discrepancies will be observed, and more fudge factors invented – such as dark energy and dark matter).

  75. Stilgar says:

    While the outcome of the original claim may be 100% wrong, this NIST study does not seem to come close to proving anything.

    Whether the decay rate can change in the slightest may be laughable, I would think everyone would agree that the NIST expeiriment does not prove the original results are false.

    Take this statement: my Toyota with throttle-by-wire accelerated out of control and I think the computer was at fault.
    There are 3 statements made:
    1. Fact – it was a Toyota with throttle-by-wire
    2. Fact – it accelerated out of control
    3. Opinion – the computer is the cause

    You CANNOT say that 1 and 2 are false or did not happen by showing a Ford with throttle-by-wire did not accelerate out of control. It may be that it was not the computer and instead it was a floormat that caused the throttle to get stuck. However you will not be able to prove that by using a car from a different maker that has different floormats and computers.

    NIST did not disprove anything from the previous report. Even those that say the previous report was completely wrong should be able to note that NIST is not doing what they say they are doing.

    It seems to me that very few of the commentors here notice that disproving a guess of what caused the observation does not in fact disprove the observation itself or other possible causes other than measurement error (even if it was measurement error, you would think a group called “National Institute of Standards and Technology” would try much harder to figure out exactly what standard or technology was not working correctly and offer suggestions to fix it) .

  76. Steve says:

    It might even be amusing to compile a list of current fudge factors:
    “missing heat”
    neutrinos
    dark energy
    dark matter
    “emergent properties”
    misuse of chaos theory

    Just for starters. This could be fun.

  77. anna v says:

    Steve says:
    September 27, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    From what V and Feht are saying, it would appear that neutrinos are the equivalent (in a sense) of epicycles (not really fair to epicycles which are observable (but an artifact of perception)) – they are fudge factors to sustain the dominant operant paradigm.

    Neutrinos are NOT fudge factors. They are very well defined elementary particles, as well as other elementary particles.

    All elementary particles are mathematical constructs invented in order to describe measurements as economically as possible.

    One cannot see neutrons either. The only reason we know there are neutrons is because they decay fast enough to catch some of the products in our detectors, and it was necessary to invent the neutrino rather than say that “energy and momentum conservation are not valid in the microcosm”.

    The hypothesis has worked well, experimentally, and the whole standard model as studied the last 20 years hangs well with remarkable accuracy.

    It may be superseded, but will not go away, maybe in the same way that epicycles are still there, if one goes to the geocentric system.

  78. kzb says:

    There is a touching faith on the accuracy of these half life measurements. Nuclear data is constantly being revised. The half life of Po-209 was revised from 102 years to 115 years earlier this year.
    In this particular experiment, I would look very closely at the cross-correlations. A seasonal variation in instrument response could come from air pressure or temperature for example. Also the background count correlates with weather: high pressure gives greater shielding from cosmic rays.
    Low pressure brings out radon gas from the ground and if the weather is also bad (which low pressure causes of course), correlates with workers reducing the ventilation rate of their buildings, trapping the radon daughters inside. It also correlates with rain, which brings down radon daughters from the atmosphere, increasing instrumental backgrounds.

  79. Tenuc says:

    Steve says:
    September 27, 2010 at 9:20 pm
    “It might even be amusing to compile a list of current fudge factors:
    “missing heat”
    neutrinos
    dark energy
    dark matter
    “emergent properties”
    misuse of chaos theory

    Just for starters. This could be fun.”

    So much fun it makes you want to cry…

    “It has been known for millennia that the Earth rests upon the back of a giant turtle. Only in recent centuries has this knowledge been added to. In 1794, in one of the high valleys of the Himalayas, one of the wise was asked, “Master, what does the turtle rest upon?” The Master answered: “It is turtles all the way down, my son.”

    But now that scientists have finally succeeded in mapping the universe, a turtle controversy has arisen. It turns out that level 7,484,912 is occupied not by a turtle, but by a man dressed as a turtle. It is not known how this will affect our other equations.”
    Quote:
    “Miles Mathis”

    Much of science has got itself into the position that it is too attached to its basic tenets that it is having difficulty progressing. Abstract and ever more complex math and computer models have taken over from observation and experiment.

    Back in 1928, physicist and Nobel Prize winner Max Born told a group of visitors to Gottingen University, “Physics, as we know it, will be over in six months.” Still no sign that we know everything yet, or even getting close to it!

  80. Enneagram says:

    Tenuc says:
    September 28, 2010 at 7:28 am
    Right!…“Physics, as we know it, will be over in six months.”
    It’s over, though some physicists keep wandering around, like ghosts lost in a black hole, or entangled in a eleven dimensions universe,trapped with thousand of strings and slipping down through a worm hole :-)

  81. Jason Calley says:

    Anna V says: “All elementary particles are mathematical constructs invented in order to describe measurements as economically as possible. ”

    Yes, very much so. I think that the essential difference between your posts and the posting of Alexander Feht is two sentences later where you say “it was necessary to invent the neutrino rather than say that “energy and momentum conservation are not valid in the microcosm”.

    Well, no…and please do not think I am simply nit-picking for the amusement of it. It was not “necessary” but it was very much “convenient.” Even if we posit that there is in fact, a reality that exists separately from our observation of it, science, (and physics included), does not describe reality itself, but rather describes the models which we have made of reality. Neutrinos — in and of themselves — do not exist any more than gravity, beauty or justice. If a better model of elementary particles is created (and by better, I mean with a more accurate predictive power) which does not include neutrinos, then that particular mathematical construct (pun intended) will be put aside.

    Let me use gravity as an analogous creation to neutrinos. F=Ma is more of a definition than a model, but once it was accepted, then there was the obvious problem that apples (and pretty much every thing else) violated the definition. Turn an apple loose and it accelerated toward the ground by itself with no apparent force. What to do? Either give up on F=Ma or invent an imaginary force called gravity. The imaginary force was a brilliant piece of work and was used for hundreds of years. Eventually someone came up with a better model that did not include gravity, but used curved space to work with F=Ma in such a way that the apple moved toward the ground without being tugged by an imaginary “gravity” force.

    Neutrinos, gravity, distance, mass, automobiles, shrubbery — they are all provisional memetic constructs used to model the equally provisional constructs of our senses and our equipment. Science seeks the most elegant balance of prediction, completeness, and simplicity from differing models.

    Pardon me if I have been either too simplistic or too pedantic, but it is a wonderfully interesting subject.

  82. Neutrino is not a particle. It is a purely theoretical construct invented to fit theory to the observed experimental deviation from the same theory.

    In plain English: together with the dark energy and other science fiction, neutrino is one of many repair patches necessary to create in college students’ minds a financially convenient illusion that their professors have at their disposal a system of scientific thought that sufficiently explains reality. Ancient Egyptian priests behaved the same way while lecturing their apprentices, I am sure.

    Neutrons are physical objects that can be counted, controlled, traced, generated, and absorbed in every which way.

    Nobody ever observed, counted, controlled, traced, or generated a neutrino.

    The difference is manifest.

    P.S. The very idea of neutrino would not be necessary if another axiomatic dogma wouldn’t be accepted by “consensus”: namely, that a photon doesn’t have any mass. If a photon has mass, however infinitesimally small, some artificial, invented elements of the standard model would become unnecessary.

    But that’s another heresy that no modern college graduate would tolerate, isn’t it?

  83. Stephen Amsel says:

    Just to be clear, these are the axioms of the paradigm being defended here and supporting evidence:

    1. The dynamics of a mechanical system are independent of the manner in which observable quantities are measured. This is expressed mathematically as Local Gauge Invariance. This axiom can actually be used more to distinguish science from art than as an assumption.

    2. At low energies, matter and energy exist and propagate as probability-waves but interact as particles. If that were seriously wrong, your computer would not work and you would not be reading this.

    3. At low energies, the interactions between particles approach being transformations under the U(1), SU(2), and SU(3) groups, (you can look them up on Wolfram Mathworld) that change particle-types, as well as Lorentz group transformations which are transfers of mechanical energy. The first three of these groups are thoroughly tested with every experiment of electrodynamics and nuclear physics supporting them. The fourth is special relativity and is supported by the interaction between electric and magnetic fields and the demand that they work, without understanding which we could not produce electricity and you would not be reading this, and the demand that they work in the same universe as mechanics.

    4. Again at low energies, the presence of energy (or momentum) curves space-time in a manner consistent with the theory of general relativity. Without this, the communication-satellites that the internet runs on would have their targeting off. Again, you would likely not be reading this.

    I’ll give anybody 1000-to-1 odds the paradigm is right, and I don’t gamble.

    These constructions are not only explanatory of already-existing observations, they are predictive and their predictions have worked. Epicycles and similar constructs are not predictive or have made outright wrong predictions. The paradigm does not imply that we know everything: After all, for most of the “laws” that we describe, we know they only work at low energies.

    Steve says:
    September 27, 2010 at 9:20 pm
    “It might even be amusing to compile a list of current fudge factors:
    “missing heat”
    neutrinos
    dark energy
    dark matter
    “emergent properties”
    misuse of chaos theory

    We might as well add clear glass because you cannot see that either.

  84. If your glass is so clear than nobody can see it, so light and slippery that nobody can feel or touch it, if it cannot be registered by any instruments despite the enormous effort put into excavating large, very deep underground chambers equipped with extremely sensitive and expensive sensors — and if we all know that you desperately need this glass for your paradigm to hold water — then, obviously, the statement that this glass is a filament of your imagination is much closer to the truth than holey paradigm.

    In short: obfuscation doesn’t make anything clear, Stephen. Save it for dormitory booze-ups.

  85. anna v says:

    Alexander Feht says:
    September 28, 2010 at 4:18 pm
    In plain English: together with the dark energy and other science fiction, neutrino is one of many repair patches necessary to create in college students’ minds a financially convenient illusion that their professors have at their disposal a system of scientific thought that sufficiently explains reality.

    Your knowledge of physics is passe and you underestimate graduate students.

    There are neutrino beams from CERN, hitting experimental set ups in Grand Sasso in Italy. If that is not the definition of a particle, what is?

    Again, the very idea of all elementary particles is a mathematical construct to explain our macroscopic measurements. Any particles, neutrons and protons and the explanation of the periodic table included. So?

    Jason Calley says:
    September 28, 2010 at 1:02 pm
    Well, no…and please do not think I am simply nit-picking for the amusement of it. It was not “necessary” but it was very much “convenient.”

    It was necessary to invent the neutrino to explain the decay of the neutron without throwing away basic conservation laws. Fermi, I think, at the time said “who ordered this?”. In neutron decay, if momentum and energy conservation hold, something has to take them away to balance the equations.
    Otherwise the very fundamental conservation laws coming out of the Lagrangian formulation of mechanics and quantum mechanics would be violated. A proposition much nastier than giving the attributes to an unseen particle.

    Of course there were and there will be large changes in the paradigm for the microcosm as you so justly explain with gravity. Nevertheless F=ma still works in the relevant subsystem. That is the difference between hand waving suppositions of how the world works, and mathematical mapping of the available data on how the world works. The mappings remain, ( the epicycles still exist if you plot a geocentric system) they might become obsolete, cumbersome and uninteresting, but not wrong , as also Stephen Amsel notes in his September 28, 2010 at 4:33 pm.

    Predictions from these mapping might be wrong, and actually this is one way of new physics being signaled, when something predicted from the paradigm is not found. The necessary new paradigm will have to include the old and forge ahead into new areas of predictions.

  86. Anna V.,

    Whose knowledge is passé? Five year-old CERN experiment results that you linked were never confirmed. Muons can be produced by a lot of other transactions. All their attempts to prove that they registered a neutrino failed.

    Endless arguments about neutrinos are going on for more than 70 years now. Would there be any positive evidence of neutrino’s existence, there wouldn’t be any argument.

    I don’t want this to become a fruitless squabble. Believe whatever consensus you want to believe, what’s it to me?

    Good night.

  87. anna v says:

    If one goes to the Cern document server, and searches for “neutrino beam”, one gets
    Published Articles, 989 records found
    Preprints, 592 records found
    Theses, 49 records found
    Reports, 16 records found

    very recent publications.

    Here is a progress report for the Grand Sasso
    http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1237127/files/EuCARD-CON-2009-014.pdf

    After successfully resolving these issues, CNGS started the
    physics run in 2008 and has since then 4.2E+19 protons on target accumulated.
    With the present statistics, the first tau-neutrino events are expected by the end
    of this year’s physics run.

  88. anna v says:

    p.s.
    http://www.physorg.com/news194544551.html
    May 31 2010
    Researchers on the OPERA experiment at the INFN’s Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy today announced the first direct observation of a tau particle in a muon neutrino beam sent through the Earth from CERN, 730km away.

  89. A C Osborn says:

    Jere Jenkins has responded to this Thread on Tips & Notes at Jere Jenkins says:
    September 28, 2010 at 12:19 pm.

  90. Stephen Amsel says:

    Many observations have actually found dark matter. Because it does not directly interact with light (which is actualy the same reason why it is so slippery), we must use other means. One such other method is by measuring its gravitational effect. We have seen the effects of its gravity through many, many telescopes, and at this point there really is nothing else that could explain it. With these observations, Occam’s Razer very strongly favours dark matter. The current search is for Weak force interactions of low-kinetic-energy dark matter.

    As for neutrinos, we have countless observations of the effects of them bumping into things in ways that nothing else could. Just like the clear glass, we cannot “see” them, but we can measure them and have done so. Here is a report from one of those deep underground detectors that has seen countless neutrinos:
    http://arxiv.org/abs/nucl-ex/0110005

    Also, it is not nearly as easy to get an equivalent signal as it seems: To get deep into these detectors, you need something slippery, which would not bounce off long before getting very far. Your next-best candidate for this is the neutron, but that has very different kinematics and has Strong-force interactions, so with a little effort they can be distinguished. Beyond that, we are talking about charged particles which are easily visible and distinguishable from neutrinos.

    In short: Continuing a debate from decades ago by simply ignoring the data which settled it does not make anything clear. Save it for non-scientific topics where that does not happen.

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