What We Don't Know

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Back in August 2010, WUWT ran an article wherein it was claimed that variations in the sun changed the rate of radioactive decay. This, of course, flew in the face of years and years of experimental evidence, starting with the Curies, that the rate of radioactive decay is constant, unaffected by pressure or temperature or anything else.

However, this claim that the sun could change radioactive decay rates was shortly challenged by a follow-up article at WUWT and then a second follow-up, both of which threw cold water on the idea.

dark energy matterFigure 1. Mass of the universe, by type. SOURCE

So I was interested to stumble across an announcement issued by Purdue University in August 2012, which strongly confirmed the reality of the phenomenon. Purdue has applied for a patent for the use of this effect as a means to supply advance warning of solar flares.

I found this most interesting, however, not because it affords a chance to have warning of another Carrington Event, although that would be great in itself. Instead, I found it interesting for a curious reason involving the mechanism whereby the sun is able to affect the rate of radioactive decay.

The thing I really like about the mechanism, about the way that the sun is able to influence the rate of radioactive decay, is that we don’t have any idea what it is or how it works.

Truly. Nobody has a clue. It was first noticed in 2006, and to date we have no idea how the sun does it. But Purdue says it clearly, repeatably, and demonstrably works. When the sun changes, radioactive substances all over the world change their rate of decay.

There have been years and years of attempts to see if we could artificially change the rate of radioactive decay. Obviously, if you could do that, it would be incredibly useful. But despite experiment after experiment, no one has ever discovered any combination of environmental variables that would change the rate of radioactive decay … until now, or so it seems at this time.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I don’t think that the sun rules the climate, and I’m not discussing the sun for that reason. I’m not one of the “It’s the sun, stupid” folks. I don’t think any of the forcings rules the climate—not the sun, not CO2, not methane, not volcanoes, none of them.

Instead, I think the earth’s temperature is set by interlocking homeostatic mechanisms. These natural and poorly studied emergent phenomena have laughed off the effects of huge meteor strikes, and long-term vulcanism, and a slow rise in the solar output, and kept the earth within a surprisingly narrow temperature range at all scales, from centuries to millions of years. We think nothing of the fact that next year won’t be much different from this year … and yet that stability, of plus or minus one tenth of a percent in the global average surface air temperature variation over the last century, is actually quite surprising and demands explanation.

So I’m not talking about the sun affecting the climate. I bring up this question of the sun affecting the rate of radioactive decay for one reason—to highlight just how much we don’t know about this marvelous, mysterious infinity that surrounds us. People talk about Trenberth’s famous “missing heat”, where he described one of the many parts of climate science that is poorly understood—energy that he says is incoming but can’t be found or accounted for.

But given that we seem to have misplaced both the dark energy and the dark matter that make up 96% of the mass of the universe … well, when you can’t find hide nor hair of almost everything the universe contains, that kinda makes not finding a few zetajoules in the climate system pale by comparison …

Let me take another example. In 2010 it was discovered that thunderstorms function as huge natural particle accelerators. Who knew? Here’s a description of the mechanism:

… when particularly intense lightning discharges in thunderstorms coincide with high-energy particles coming in from space (cosmic rays), nature provides the right conditions to form a giant particle accelerator above the thunderclouds.

The cosmic rays strip off electrons from air molecules and these electrons are accelerated upwards by the electric field of the lightning discharge. The free electrons and the lightning electric field then make up a natural particle accelerator.

The accelerated electrons then develop into a narrow particle beam which can propagate from the lowest level of the atmosphere (the troposphere), through the middle atmosphere and into near-Earth space, where the energetic electrons are trapped in the Earth’s radiation belt and can eventually cause problems for orbiting satellites.

I loved that last bit. Using a giant particle accelerator to affect a satellite? Good science fiction, but utterly outrageous that it’s actually happening. One way to recognize emergent behavior is that it is not readily predictable from a knowledge of the conditions. I’d say a thunderstorm suddenly forming a giant particle accelerator that can blast a satellite, well, that would definitely qualify as unexpected and not predictable … and here’s another one.

Thunderstorms give off burst of gamma rays. They found out by accident a few years ago when the gamma ray satellite “Fermi” looked at the Earth. Not only that, but the gamma rays in turn give off bursts of antimatter, which get shot off into outer space …

fermi gamma ray antimatter

I’ve had no success trying to establish the amount of energy in one of these terrestrial gamma-ray bursts, no clue. But there are about 1,100 of them per day, and although they are short they are very energetic … so how much energy is lost to space that way?

I find both of these phenomena quite interesting in that they appear, at least, to be a way that the world loses energy to space that is not accounted for in the usual budget. Among other things, we’re blasting positrons into space … go figure.

Remember that the tropical thunderstorms are an emergent phenomenon. They are formed and cluster around the hot spots, so they are removing energy directly where it is needed. As a result, although it may not seem like a lot when it is averaged over the surface of the planet, in the area where it is happening it is very significant.

Here’s another way the planet loses energy that’s not in the conventional accounting. Consider lightning. My back of the envelope calculations show that at something like 5 billion joules per strike, it accounts for about 0.2 W/m2 of energy averaged over the earth’s surface. Some of that is released in the form of heat, and some in the form of light … and that’s where it gets interesting, because something like half of that light will be radiated upwards. You can see it clearly from the space station.

Now, very rough calculations I’m sure someone can improve upon, if light is half the lightning energy and heat is the rest, and half the light escapes to space, that’s less than a tenth of a W/m2 … but again, that’s averaged around the globe. The thunderstorms mostly occur in certain areas and certain times where they are needed to cool the surface. And in those areas and times, the loss of energy to space in the form of light could easily reach several watts per square metre.

I bring up all of this stuff because it’s unknown, it’s stuff we barely understand, or not even that much. But it’s hard for me to describe the point I’m trying to get across, so let me give a couple of quotes that may explain it. First, from the famous scientist J. B. S. Haldane:

Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.

I find that greatly encouraging. It means there will always be new things to find out. Like the poet Robert Browning said,  “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp. Or what’s a meta phor?”

Then we have the famous scientist William Shakespeare, who might have been describing the sun affecting radioactive decay when he has Horatio say: :

HORATIO

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

HAMLET

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

I suspect that eventually we’ll figure out just how it is that the sun is able to affect radioactivity, something that we thought could not be affected by anything. Of course, by then there will be some new phenomenon that’s just as mysterious.

And in the meantime, as we discover any new and fascinating thing about the climate, it seems to me that we should “as a stranger give it welcome”.

My point relates to the famous claim by Gro Harland Bruntland, the chief climate cheerleader for the IPCC, who said:

So what is it that is new today? What is new is that doubt has been eliminated. The report of the International Panel on Climate Change is clear. And so is the Stern report. It is irresponsible, reckless and deeply immoral to question the seriousness of the situation. The time for diagnosis is over. Now it is time to act (Brundtland 2007).

Well … no. Doubt has not been eliminated, nor will it ever be … and that’s great news.

And as for the consensus of more than 97% of scientists, you know, the ones who said that nothing could change the rate of radioactive decay? …

It’s doing about as well as consensus science ever does, meaning it’s right until it’s wrong, and in neither case does it affect the truth on the ground.

My best to all, keep up the questioning,

w.

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Jimmy Haigh.

If the sun changes the rate of radioactive decay then all of the age measurements made by radioactive dating are wrong. But by how much?

Jimmy Haigh.

A question: What was the estimated strength of the Carrington flare? In the last 24 hours we have had 3 X-flares up to a maximum of X-3.2.

Willis Eschenbach

Jimmy Haigh. says:
May 13, 2013 at 11:27 pm

If the sun changes the rate of radioactive decay then all of the age measurements made by radioactive dating are wrong. But by how much?

My guess would be tenths of a percent, but I doubt if it is known at present.
w.

Hoser

Willis. Perhaps a little too energetic this time, not enough mass. Sometimes the wind blows a little too hard.
Yes, these are very cool phenomena, but to just throw it all out there on the table and then ask us to make something out of it is a little bit over the top. It’s in fact mildly insulting.
Emergent phenomena. Oooh. I’ve heard people toss about cool phrases for decades parading ideas like little princes craving attention and praise. Spare me. Climate is not controlled by the Sun? And not by other external factors? Dude. Ice age. Remember?
You did spark some thoughts, but it’s mostly mental self-abuse. Feels good, but doesn’t produce offspring. So the thought was neutrinos affect the rate of decay. How do we test that? All you can do is look for correlation. Who has a neutrino gun? So there we are, dead in the water real fast.
Willis, my friend, we love you and your writing. Remember you big fella man, but not too big. None of us are. But keep writing, and all the other things you do.

Ken

…whither the cesium clocks, then?

Fascinating, I hope Dr S and Dr RGB do offer their view.

I don’t think that the sun rules the climate, and I’m not discussing the sun for that reason. I’m not one of the “It’s the sun, stupid” folks.
Just as this post suggests previously unimaginable effects of the Sun on radioactive decay, previously unknown amplification mechanisms of solar activity on climate have recently been described, including via ocean oscillations, atmospheric oscillations such as the Madden-Julian oscillation and Quasi-biennial oscillation, stratospheric ozone, and sunshine hours/clouds. Although no doubt much of climate is due to negative-feedback homeostatic mechanisms and chaos, ruling out solar activity as the primary driver may be premature.

tty

If the sun changes the rate of radioactive decay then all of the age measurements made by radioactive dating are wrong. But by how much?”
We already know that radiocarbon years and calendar years, mostly due to variations in the intensity of cosmic ray (also mostly, but not exclusively, due to solar variation) . They can be calibrated by dating tree-rings. That’s a field where tree-ring research is actually useful.
Offhand I can’t think of any good method to calibrate other radioactive dating methods over longer periods. We don’t have any annual varve series longer than a few tens of thousand years. In any case this effect is almost certainly to small to matter to radioactive dating. Even the very best dates have an uncertainty on the order of one percent.

Patrick Barrington

More good reasons why AGW sceptics should never adopt a sceptical orthodoxy!

Gene Selkov

Thank you Willis for bringing this up. Obviously, black holes and black energy are just shameless cover-ups for the incompetence of mainstream physics, brilliantly exposed by Steven Crothers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q185InpONK4
But there is a less obvious fallacy that stems from our culture’s desire to describe unknown effects with statistics. Used this way, statistics smothers information.
“… variations in the sun changed the rate of radioactive decay.”
Not only variations in the sun, but of even greater import is the orientation of the lab taking the measurements relative to the sun (time of the day, longitude). Not only the sun, but everything there is. Not only radioactive decay, but pretty much everything you can measure.
Simon Schnoll, my family’s science mentor, has been measuring these effects for 60 years.
Here is a small sample:
http://www.ptep-online.com/index_files/2012/PP-30-02.PDF
If you can tolerate the captions I slapped together for his TV interview in Russian, you will be amazed by the emerging new worldview:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bkle618UJPY
(click on the CC button to enable captions)

There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Douglas Adams of course.

TC

Hi Willis
From time to time I look at solar X-ray flux, 3 X-class bursts in a short time, and they are getting stronger too
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/rt_plots/Xray.gif
If sun does anything as suggested, a natural experiment may be under way as we read your article.

Within Earth’s 259 trillion cubic miles of mostly molten rock are 700,000 cubic miles of fissionable Uranium and Thorium which, if varied, would case the base state changes for glacial/interglacial cycles. This described in “Motive Force for All Climate Change” posted in May 2009. In a Universe were there are very few constants, it is absurd to think that fissionable material, under varying temperature, pressures and particle bombardments MUST have a constant decay rate. Our experience with nuclear bombs and power plants confirms variable decay rates.
@ Jimmy Haigh….Carbon 14 dating is based on a constant ionization of atmospheric N14 by cosmic rays, which are not constant. The C14 is then entered into the food chain by photosynthesis giving all concurrent lifeforms the same level. One curious anomaly is that fresh killed Antarctic seals and penguins give a C14 age of 3000 years old. The only current explanation for this is in “The Proxy Crock” articles at Canada Free Press. The fission decay within the Earth produces new “elemental” atoms, some of which would be Carbon atoms with non-terrestiral isotope ratios. These lower C14 ratio atoms are released, as say CH4, at undersea vents, digested by Archaea and thereby reduce C14 ratios for the entire Antarctic food chain.
Thankfully not ALL science is settled, for discovery and imagination are good human ambitions.

I suspect that eventually we’ll figure out just how it is that the sun is able to affect radioactivity

I don’t think that is it. I don’t think solar activity changes rates of radioactive decay. I think that the same thing that causes changes in radioactive decay ALSO causes changes in solar activity. Maybe we pass through a denser field (for lack of a better word) of some particle we haven’t discovered yet that causes changes we can measure in radioactive decay and this same thing eventually causes some change we can notice in the sun.
I would look for variations in volcanic activity related to changes in solar activity and possibly changes in climate. Reason I say this is that there might be some weakly interacting particles that pass through Earth that do two things: 1. they might change the rate of radioactive decay and therefore change the amount of heat production deep inside Earth and 2. these particles might generate heat deep in the densest parts of Earth through impacts with atoms.
I think we see the evidence of this, but maybe don’t have the cause/effect exactly right. For example: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/20/a-link-between-climate-and-volcanic-eruptions-is-found/

John Moss

There are known unknowns, things we know we don’t know and unknown unknowns, things we don’t yet know we don’t know.
That Rumsfeld bloke wasn’t daft you know.

Gene Selkov

Ken says:
> …whither the cesium clocks, then?
Don’t worry about the caesium clocks — they are more stable than radioactive decay. I would worry more about decay-based random number generators because they turned out to be far from random. But even a cesium clock will show the same pattern of influence by the sun, planets and stars — although at a much lower scale. In a quartz clock, you will see the pattern if your measurements are accurate to the 7th digit, in a cesium clock, to the 14th digit (or so); in a biochemical reaction, you’ll need only one or two. The mechanisms vary but the pattern of variance ends up being similar for all and .specific to a certain time and location on the surface of the earth. It repeats itself with all known astronomical periods, including sun cycles.
I’m just parroting Shnoll; better listen to him.

TFN Johnson

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy”.
In Shakespeare’s time ‘philosophy’ meant roughly what we mean by ‘religion’ today. So try saying the famous quote, changing ‘your philosophy’ to ‘your religion’, emphasising ‘religion’ rather than ‘your’. It helps to change from ‘your to ‘yr’.
It was a bold thing to say then, but subsequently has been interpreted merely as a comment on Horatio’s limitations.

Lance Wallace

These authors have published 3 or 4 other articles on this subject looking at different elements. A 2013 article focused on Cs137 measurements made at a German lab. The authors found NO evidence that the annual variation existed for Cs137. That same laboratory and instrument measured decay rates for 7 other elements, and the authors show figures suggesting that one of these does show the annual oscillation, but only for a few years within the 9-year measurement period. So the effect seems not only to be rather weak and subject to disappearance in some years but also varies by element. The authors claim that this shows the variation cannot be some environmental (temperature, humidity…) effect because that would affect all elements in the same way.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096980431200591X
I note that the abstracts of most of these other articles continues to mention solar influence, but the word “neutrino” does not appear except in one case.
The fact that all these articles seem to have the same three authors (Jenkins, Fischbach, Sturrock) reminds me a bit of Fleischman and Pons. There was also the neutrino faster-than-light speeds eventually traced to a poor cable connection in one of the instruments. The likelihood is that this phenomenon will end up in the same graveyard as these two.

thingadonta

My first thought, is that since nearly all the matter in the earth originally comes from the sun (apart from a few stray comets), the matter in the earth and the matter in the sun are possibly connected in some way at the subatomic level, like the ‘action at a spooky distance’ that occurs in quantum mechanics.
After all, with radioactive decay we are dealing with stuff at the quantum level. So if something happens in the sun, this might explain why radioactive decay changes on the earth-the two are connected in a ‘spooky way’-to use (was it) Einstein’s term?
(On another, very ‘fringe idea’ , we have no idea how life itself started, one very fringe idea is that the molecule replicating process began at the subatomic level early in the formation in the sun, and continues on earth where conditions are right, but again, at a subatomic level. (In other words, one wont find any evidence of how molecules start to replicate on the earth, unless one reproduces the early conditions in the sun). i.e. the carbon molecules may be replicating due to unknown effects that were present in the early formation of carbon in the sun. Of note, is that some scientists have described the way carbon atoms form in stars as extremely unusual-so unusual they describe carbon forming process in stars, which is necessary for life, ‘as a put up job’…and ‘someone has been monkeying with the laws of physics’, …..but that’s another story)

Paul Schauble

Ken,
Cesium clocks don’t use radioactive decay. They depend on the movement of electrons in the cesium atoms between to particular energy states. In particular, this is an effect of the electromagnetic force. The sun’s effect on radioactive decay is probably mediated through the weak nuclear force.
++PLS

Ben D.

Perhaps the ubiquitous zero point energy field density is not homogenous, and such variation, as crosspatch alludes to in principle, could affect all solar system atomic matter as it passes through intragalactic space.

Figure 1: a classic case of reverse engineering of the reality to fit a dogmatic model.
Mechanism linking solar activity and the rate of radioactive decay: pace of time changes as the amount and distribution of energy (including mass) changes in the surrounding space? If couple of feet of difference in height over the surface of the Earth is enough to register a difference in the pace of time, why a spike of Solar activity wouldn’t do the same? Rate of radioactive decay theoretically always remains constant but the pace of time (influencing the observer’s measurement of the rate of decay) fluctuates a little.

Robertv

Thunderstorms
It seems to me that you are talking electric discharges between Earth and Space.
When the sun changes, radioactive substances all over the world change their rate of decay means that there must be an elctric connection. Only elctricity can act that fast.
But I understand this blog has a problem with the electrical universe where there is no need for dark matter nor dark energy nor black holes.

Jeff

Reading the post, Job 38-40 comes to mind.

Espen

All things are so very uncertain, and that’s exactly what makes me feel reassured.
Tove Jansson, Moominland Midwinter

wayne Job

Hi Willis, you say that if radioactivity could be altered and manipulated it would be a good thing.
I can not tell much, but a friend and I have been running experiments for two years and are doing just that. That we are doing it is special, that we as yet do not know the why we are able to do this has bothered us. Our last experiment is running and if it too is successful we will release our results and methods, for others to figure out the why. It is certainly possible.

X Anomaly

More like the sun is interfering with the measurement of decay? Totally ignorant here…

cloa5132013

Does this supposed amount of Dark Matter/Dark Energy consider Plasma Physics- the most powerful effects (measurable in a laboratory) in the universe. Probably not. I only read the online content for Electric Sky- which suggests exotic sources of effects due to gravity such as Black Holes, Dark Matter are largely unnecessary to produce the structure of the universe.

eyesonu

Willis, your writings seem to force and stimulate an open mind.

Don K

Jimmy Haigh. says:
May 13, 2013 at 11:27 pm
If the sun changes the rate of radioactive decay then all of the age measurements made by radioactive dating are wrong. But by how much?
========================================
Good point Jimmy. The measurements are a bit wrong anyway for a variety of reasons. For example, small uncertainties in the measurement of quantities of isotopes. Or leakage of gases like Radon or Argon out of the sample during decay if they are involved in the decay chain. Etc.
Conceptually, this just broadens the error band — whose size is probably at least a bit underestimated to begin with because it only reflects things that are known to be issues and requires guessing at mechanisms and magnitudes.
How big is the increase in uncertainty? Who the hell knows? I’d guess it’s small, but how would I (or anyone else) know for sure?

Don K

Nice article Willis. Thanks.

Lance Wallace

Gene Selkov,
Many thanks for the 7-part TV series with Simon Scholl. A madman of course, but perfectly delightful. He seems to have been very happy doing his thing despite utterly no respect from anyone. His cycles seem to be ore related to the sidereal day (23 h 56 m) than the solar day, which causes him to think of the space-time continuum being anisotropic, rather than thinking of purely solar influence. I wonder if the Jenkins-Sturrock group can measure precisely enough to differentiate a 24-h day from a 23 h 56 m day. It would open up other influences than solar neutrinos. Anyway, I hope some day Scholl’s life work will score some small triumph.

johnmarshall

If the sun does not ”rule” climate then where does the heat come from to run climate. It may not be the major driver, there are clearly minor drivers not from the sun, but it the only source of heat. Also since we still do not understand all solar output influences on the climate how can you make that statement?
Perhaps radioactive decay can be changed by solar nutrino output and varying this changes the decay rates. First catch your nutrino.

John Moss says:
May 14, 2013 at 12:09 am
“There are known unknowns, things we know we don’t know and unknown unknowns, things we don’t yet know we don’t know.
That Rumsfeld bloke wasn’t daft you know.”
Aye.

markx

All very thought provoking – thanks Willis!
I like crosspatch’s thought:
crosspatch says: May 14, 2013 at 12:02 am
I don’t think that is it. I don’t think solar activity changes rates of radioactive decay. I think that the same thing that causes changes in radioactive decay ALSO causes changes in solar activity. Maybe we pass through a denser field (for lack of a better word) of some particle we haven’t discovered yet that causes changes we can measure in radioactive decay and this same thing eventually causes some change we can notice in the sun.

Greg Goodman

http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2012/Q3/new-system-could-predict-solar-flares,-give-advance-warning.html
The group found evidence of the same annual and 33-day effect in radium-226 data taken at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Braunschweig, Germany, and those findings were published in 2011. They also found an additional 154-day recurring pattern in both the Brookhaven and PTB data, published in 2011, which they believe to be solar related and similar to a known solar effect called a Rieger periodicity.
I found a periodicity of about 146 days in Arctic ice coverage. I will have to look at this again see how accurately I had determined that figure.
The 33 day solar period is also interesting when much of climate science is working with monthly averages of various quantities. If whatever this is can affect something as fundemental as radioactive decay, it could be having a profound affect on a lot of other things too.
I’ll have to check this through but taking “monthly” averages with an average length of 30.4 days of some quantity influenced by a 33day periodicity will produce a false signal at about 12.27 months. That will resonate with the annual variations and produce a resonance of about 30 years.
Add to that the various lunar periods which are of the same order and you have a pantheon of mysterious powers at work.
The word stochastic is often used to dismiss anything that does not fit CO2 driven AGW from consideration. Much of what is happening in climate is neither random nor chaotic, we simply aren’t looking hard enough.
Willis’ post is a timely reminder of the need to recognise how little we know about climate and the laws of nature in general and that any claims that “the science is settled” are either foolish arrogance or down right dishonesty.

Greg Goodman

The whole dark matter / dark energy conundrum basically means there is something fundamentally wrong with our understanding of basic physics. I don’t think there is either such entity lurking in such massive quantities yet undetected and undetecable.
After the constancy of the decay rate being put into to question the next thing that needs reviewing is the constancy of the speed of light. The belief in the constancy of the speed of light is what causes need for all the dark stuff to rig the equations that don’t explain observations.
Just as Einstein brought corrections to newtonian physics, we now need to be ready to make corrections to general relativity.

Eugene WR Gallun

A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a metaphor?
Marshall McLuhan
A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?
Robert Browning –“Andrea del Sarto”
Between the two who is the fourth rater — both as artist and thinker?
We shape our tools and they in turn shape us
Marshall Mcluhan
Man is still man after ages of time
Eugene WR Gallun
The argument is whether or not clothes make the man.
Marshall McLuhan and Timothy Lear crawled out of the same 60’s garbage dump. An academic who attempts to be a cultural hero is only seeking the praises of unformed minds — having given up on impressing his intellectual superiors. Unfortunately these two have gotten some academic play because of the destruction of the academic disciplines by the left. When your degree of adherence to left wing politics determines your chance at tenure then academia gets flooded with really stupid people.
The article you wrote has nothing to do with McLuhan. It was a mistake to reference to him. That was the one “clang” in an otherwise beautiful piece of music.
Eugene WR Gallun

Jimmy Haigh. says: May 13, 2013 at 11:27 pm
“If the sun changes the rate of radioactive decay then all of the age measurements made by radioactive dating are wrong. But by how much?”

One of their papers is here. They give a ±1% annual range. The orbital eccentricity effect is likely to be greater than solar variations. So probably, very little.

Bloke down the pub

Purdue has applied for a patent for the use of this effect as a means to supply advance warning of solar flares.
They obviously don’t make scientists like Tim Berners-Lee anymore.
I suspect that eventually we’ll figure out just how it is that the sun is able to affect radioactivity, something that we thought could not be affected by anything. Of course, by then there will be some new phenomenon that’s just as mysterious.
Yes, and it’ll be worse than we thought, and we’re all going to fry, and it’s all our fault. Environmentalist like to keep the fear factor ramped up.

My point relates to the famous claim by Gro Harland Bruntland, the chief climate cheerleader for the IPCC, who said:

“So what is it that is new today? What is new is that doubt has been eliminated. The report of the International Panel on Climate Change is clear. And so is the Stern report. It is irresponsible, reckless and deeply immoral to question the seriousness of the situation. The time for diagnosis is over. Now it is time to act (Brundtland 2007).”

No fool like a wise fool. ™

Shevva

I’m a layman and have no clue so my starting point would be to forget the sun for a second and ask, what affects radioactive decay?
Google searches:-
http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2011/05/03/radioactive-decay-rates-may-not-be-constant-after-all/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_decay
And something to ponder (don’t shoot the messenger) –
http://creation.com/radioactive-decay-rate-depends-on-chemical-environment

Shevva

And just to add to have an open mind when stating ‘I’m not one of the “It’s the sun, stupid” folks.’ because from the Forbes article ‘If it’s not neutrinos, then it may be that the sun is emitting some other mystery particle heretofore unknown and unpredicted.’.

sa

Williston,
correlation is not causation.

Leo G

Solar neutrino detectors have been demonstrating a highly correlated relationship between low-order solar cycle oscillations and Chlorine-37 to Argon-37 event rates since the late 1960s. It’s a real effect- neutrino counts appear to vary inversely with the sunspot cycle.
But given the episodic nature of solar neutrino activity, I thought that expect any significant link between solar-neutrino flux and more general radioactive decay rates had been ruled out by the absence of reasonable supporting evidence.
Your Purdue link implies that researchers have now demonstrated solar-neutrino effects on the decay of Cl-36, Si-32, Ra-226 and Mn-54 to Cl-54.
I understand that you are not talking about the sun affecting the climate through this mechanism, but the possibility of effects on vulcanism is intriguing.

SandyInLimousin

Sorry
new iPad,
Willis
Correlation is not causation

There are some chemical effects that can change nuclear decay rates. This has been well known for decades. A review article from 1972: “Perturbation of Nuclear Decay Rates”,
Annual Review of Nuclear Science, Vol. 22: 165-202 http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.ns.22.120172.001121 The full articl is paywalled. Here’s some lecture notes from University of Washington that give data for radioactive beryllium: http://depts.washington.edu/chemcrs/bulkdisk/chem418A_win09/notes_Topic_07_Chemical_Effects_on_Isotopic_Decay.pdf

Brian H

Decay rates are stochastic, averages only. But if they’re “enforced”, a surplus in solar element decay would be balanced by planetary decreases, and versa vice, or SLT.
;p

izen

New age woo strikes again!
Otherosters have pointed out this is like the cold fusion nonsense. Only two researchers still claim an effect on decay rates, nobody else credible has confirmed the effect and most seem to think they are ‘detecting’ false correlations between random variation and orbital/solar effects.
Or that some of the measurements, not the decay rate, are affected by solar activity.
And as for the idea that tropical thunderstorms are transfering climatically significant quantities of energy from the surface to space….
A simple back of an envelope calculation would show you that there are several orders of magnitude difference, its like claiming the flashing indicators on a car can affect the fuel consumption.
Here are a few certainies.
The amount of energy added to the climate system is increasing.
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere us increasing.
The increasing CO2 causes the increase in energy.
The CO2 rise is anthropogenic.
Our civilisation is based on very stable climate sustaining an agricultural infrastructure.