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Author Topic:   Solar flares affect radiometric decay rates?
Minnemooseus
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From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
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Message 1 of 67 (672239)
09-05-2012 1:00 AM


Someone at Evolution Fairytale forum pointed this out.

The strange case of solar flares and radioactive elements

quote:
It's a mystery that presented itself unexpectedly: The radioactive decay of some elements sitting quietly in laboratories on Earth seemed to be influenced by activities inside the sun, 93 million miles away.

Is this possible?

Researchers from Stanford and Purdue University believe it is. But their explanation of how it happens opens the door to yet another mystery. There is even an outside chance that this unexpected effect is brought about by a previously unknown particle emitted by the sun. "That would be truly remarkable," said Peter Sturrock, Stanford professor emeritus of applied physics and an expert on the inner workings of the sun.


More at cited source.

Moose

{Note: Started in the "Creation/Evolution In The News" forum, but it's going to immediately get moved to "Dates and Dating" - Adminnemooseus}

Edited by Admin, : "effect" => "affect" in thread title.


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 Message 9 by dwise1, posted 09-05-2012 10:30 AM Minnemooseus has responded
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Adminnemooseus
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Message 2 of 67 (672241)
09-05-2012 1:00 AM


Thread Copied from Creation/Evolution In The News Forum
Thread copied here from the Solar flares effect radiometric decay rates? thread in the Creation/Evolution In The News forum.
    
PaulK
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Message 3 of 67 (672249)
09-05-2012 5:51 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Minnemooseus
09-05-2012 1:00 AM


Apparently the effect is very small (I've seen less than 1% cited) so even if it is confirmed there doesn't seem to be any major relevance to radiometric dating, let alone anything that would help YEC.
This message is a reply to:
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Dr Adequate
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Joined: 07-20-2006
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Message 4 of 67 (672251)
09-05-2012 6:19 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by PaulK
09-05-2012 5:51 AM


Anything YECs can misinterpret helps them.
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Percy
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Message 5 of 67 (672253)
09-05-2012 8:33 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Minnemooseus
09-05-2012 1:00 AM


My bet's on solar flares affecting the measurement equipment, not radioactive decay itself.

--Percy


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Dr Adequate
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Message 6 of 67 (672259)
09-05-2012 9:23 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Percy
09-05-2012 8:33 AM


Ah, spoilsport. But I fear you may be right.
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PurpleYouko
Member (Idle past 58 days)
Posts: 713
From: Columbia Missouri
Joined: 11-11-2004


Message 7 of 67 (672260)
09-05-2012 9:23 AM


It would seem that if this is found to be a true phenomenon then the situation gets even worse for YECs because increased activity in the sun appears to be slowing down the decay rate slightly.
quote:
Purdue nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins, while measuring the decay rate of manganese-54, a short-lived isotope used in medical diagnostics, noticed that the rate dropped slightly during the flare, a decrease that started about a day and a half before the flare.

YECs need it to go faster
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Dr Adequate
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(2)
Message 8 of 67 (672263)
09-05-2012 9:33 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by PurpleYouko
09-05-2012 9:23 AM


* cracks knuckles *

The synoptic gospels describe three hours of darkness accompanying the crucifixion. As a solar eclipse is impossible at Passover (which occurs at full moon, whereas a solar eclipse happens only at new moon) this is only possible if the sun itself stopped shining, during which period there would have been no decay-retarding emissions from the sun at all, so obviously the decay rates of particles would have sped up in just such a way as to make young-earthers appear to be completely wrong.

It also caused the existence of intermediate forms, why not? Flood geology is so passe.


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dwise1
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(1)
Message 9 of 67 (672265)
09-05-2012 10:30 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Minnemooseus
09-05-2012 1:00 AM


Old news. As already explained by Dr. Roger C. Wiens back in 1994 (revised edition in 2002) in his classic essay, Radiometric Dating: A Christian Perspective:
quote:
Doubters Still Try

Some doubters have tried to dismiss geologic dating with a sleight of hand by saying that no rocks are completely closed systems (that is, that no rocks are so isolated from their surroundings that they have not lost or gained some of the isotopes used for dating). Speaking from an extreme technical viewpoint this might be true--perhaps 1 atom out of 1,000,000,000,000 of a certain isotope has leaked out of nearly all rocks, but such a change would make an immeasurably small change in the result. The real question to ask is, "is the rock sufficiently close to a closed system that the results will be same as a really closed system?" Since the early 1960s many books have been written on this subject. These books detail experiments showing, for a given dating system, which minerals work all of the time, which minerals work under some certain conditions, and which minerals are likely to lose atoms and give incorrect results. Understanding these conditions is part of the science of geology. Geologists are careful to use the most reliable methods whenever possible, and as discussed above, to test for agreement between different methods.

Some people have tried to defend a young Earth position by saying that the half-lives of radionuclides can in fact be changed, and that this can be done by certain little-understood particles such as neutrinos, muons, or cosmic rays. This is stretching it. While certain particles can cause nuclear changes, they do not change the half-lives. The nuclear changes are well understood and are nearly always very minor in rocks. In fact the main nuclear changes in rocks are the very radioactive decays we are talking about.

There are only three quite technical instances where a half-life changes, and these do not affect the dating methods we have discussed.

1. Only one technical exception occurs under terrestrial conditions, and this is not for an isotope used for dating. According to theory, electron-capture is the most likely type of decay to show changes with pressure or chemical combination, and this should be most pronounced for very light elements. The artificially-produced isotope, beryllium-7 has been shown to change by up to 1.5%, depending on its chemical environment (Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 171, 325-328, 1999; see also Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 195, 131-139, 2002). In another experiment, a half-life change of a small fraction of a percent was detected when beryllium-7 was subjected to 270,000 atmospheres of pressure, equivalent to depths greater than 450 miles inside the Earth (Science 181, 1163-1164, 1973). All known rocks, with the possible exception of diamonds, are from much shallower depths. In fact, beryllium-7 is not used for dating rocks, as it has a half-life of only 54 days, and heavier atoms are even less subject to these minute changes, so the dates of rocks made by electron-capture decays would only be off by at most a few hundredths of a percent.

2. Physical conditions at the center of stars or for cosmic rays differ very greatly from anything experienced in rocks on or in the Earth. Yet, self-proclaimed "experts" often confuse these conditions. Cosmic rays are very, very high-energy atomic nuclei flying through space. The electron-capture decay mentioned above does not take place in cosmic rays until they slow down. This is because the fast-moving cosmic ray nuclei do not have electrons surrounding them, which are necessary for this form of decay. Another case is material inside of stars, which is in a plasma state where electrons are not bound to atoms. In the extremely hot stellar environment, a completely different kind of decay can occur. ' Bound-state beta decay' occurs when the nucleus emits an electron into a bound electronic state close to the nucleus. This has been observed for dysprosium-163 and rhenium-187 under very specialized conditions simulating the interior of stars (Phys. Rev. Lett., 69, 2164-2167; Phys. Rev. Lett., 77, 5190-5193, 1996). All normal matter, such as everything on Earth, the Moon, meteorites, etc. has electrons in normal positions, so these instances never apply to rocks, or anything colder than several hundred thousand degrees.

As an example of incorrect application of these conditions to dating, one young-Earth proponent suggested that God used plasma conditions when He created the Earth a few thousand years ago. This writer suggested that the rapid decay rate of rhenium under extreme plasma conditions might explain why rocks give very old ages instead of a young-Earth age. This writer neglected a number of things, including: a) plasmas only affect a few of the dating methods. More importantly, b) rocks and hot gaseous plasmas are completely incompatible forms of matter! The material would have to revert back from the plasma state before it could form rocks. In such a scenario, as the rocks cooled and hardened, their ages would be completely reset to zero as described in previous sections. If this person's scenario were correct, instead of showing old ages, all the rocks should show a uniform ~4,000 year age of creation. That is obviously not what is observed.

3. The last case also involves very fast-moving matter. It has been demonstrated by atomic clocks in very fast spacecraft. These atomic clocks slow down very slightly (only a second or so per year) as predicted by Einstein's theory of relativity. No rocks in our solar system are going fast enough to make a noticeable change in their dates.

These cases are very specialized, and all are well understood. None of these cases alter the dates of rocks either on Earth or other planets in the solar system. The conclusion once again is that half-lives are completely reliable in every context for the dating of rocks on Earth and even on other planets. The Earth and all creation appears to be very ancient.



Short-lived isotopes can be slightly affected by external conditions, but they use decay processes that longer-lived isotopes do not. Short-lived isotopes are not used in determining geological ages, only longer-lived isotopes are used.

Also, the changes induced are very small. I once calculated the percent error required to make a 10,000-year-old rock falsely appear to be hundreds of millions of years old. It worked out to be multiple thousands of a percent, not a mere 1.5%, which is within measurement error.

*yawn*


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Minnemooseus
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Posts: 3510
From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
Joined: 11-11-2001
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Message 10 of 67 (672290)
09-06-2012 2:45 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by dwise1
09-05-2012 10:30 AM


...back in 1994 (revised edition in 2002)...

I discovered the article in question isn't brand new, but it is from August of 2010. The apparent source page of that cited in message 1 is http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/august/sun-082310.html. The content seems to be exactly the same, but the Stanford page formatting is a bit better. Anyway, the Weins page doesn't seem to specifically cover the solar flare situation, which does seem to indicate that there MIGHT be some other influences that would effect decay rates.

From PurpleYouko's message 7:

It would seem that if this is found to be a true phenomenon then the situation gets even worse for YECs because increased activity in the sun appears to be slowing down the decay rate slightly.

quote:
Purdue nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins, while measuring the decay rate of manganese-54, a short-lived isotope used in medical diagnostics, noticed that the rate dropped slightly during the flare, a decrease that started about a day and a half before the flare.

YECs need it to go faster

Elsewhere in the source page it seems to indicate the opposite effect:

quote:
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.

The sun is slightly closer in the winter, thus a greater solar influence would be to speed up the decay rate.

I don't think the YEC perspective requires faster or slower - It just need indications that something could effect the rates. My just above quoted would seem to indicate that IF the solar output was significantly higher in the past, then MAYBE the decay rates were also higher in the past. Of course, a very high solar output itself might tend to really cook the Earth.

How this might effect the decay rates of isotopes actually used in radiometric dating doesn't seem to be covered.

Personally, I think the geologic evidence independent of radiometric dating puts the Earth's age far older than the YEC time frame.

Moose


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PurpleYouko
Member (Idle past 58 days)
Posts: 713
From: Columbia Missouri
Joined: 11-11-2004


Message 11 of 67 (672299)
09-06-2012 9:04 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Minnemooseus
09-06-2012 2:45 AM


Isn't the sun slightly further away in winter?
At least it's at a lower angle to the horizon such that we don't get as much heat (and presumably less of whatever particles are hypothesized to cause this effect) from it

Edited by PurpleYouko, : No reason given.


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jar
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Message 12 of 67 (672303)
09-06-2012 9:27 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by PurpleYouko
09-06-2012 9:04 AM


Depends on which winter, that in the north or the one in the south.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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NoNukes
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Message 13 of 67 (672304)
09-06-2012 9:40 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Minnemooseus
09-06-2012 2:45 AM


MAYBE the decay rates were also higher in the past. Of course, a very high solar output itself might tend to really cook the Earth.

According to the article, the suspected culprit is neutrinos. Extra neutrinos separate from increased solar activity would not cook anything. On the other hand, neutrinos don't seem to interact with much of anything.

Also there is this line from the article.

quote:
If the mystery particle is not a neutrino, "It would have to be something we don't know about, an unknown particle that is also emitted by the sun and has this effect, and that would be even more remarkable," Sturrock said.

Personally, I think the geologic evidence independent of radiometric dating puts the Earth's age far older than the YEC time frame.

If that time frame is on the order of tens of thousands of years, but a far lesser time frame would be enough force close evolution.

Interestingly enough though, I don't think there is a case that the changes affect radio-carbon dating at all.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead. William Lloyd Garrison.

“Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men's imperfections, and conceal your own.” George Bernard Shaw


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NoNukes
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From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 14 of 67 (672305)
09-06-2012 9:59 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by PurpleYouko
09-06-2012 9:04 AM


Isn't the sun slightly further away in winter?
At least it's at a lower angle to the horizon such that we don't get as much heat (and presumably less of whatever particles are hypothesized to cause this effect) from it

Jar addressed half of your post. The sun is actually closer to the earth the first few days in January of each year than at any other time during the year. January is not during the winter in the southern hemisphere.

But I think the "at least" portion is the more important issue and my understanding is the same as yours.

It is true that during the winter, in either hemisphere, we receive solar radiation, and presumably neutrinos at a more oblique angle. I would expect that the seasonal variation due to earth's tilt, and not the distance to the sun would have the larger effect.

However the amount of season variation would depend on your latitude. Less variation near the equator.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead. William Lloyd Garrison.

“Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men's imperfections, and conceal your own.” George Bernard Shaw


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jar
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From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
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Message 15 of 67 (672306)
09-06-2012 10:33 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by NoNukes
09-06-2012 9:59 AM


Which should make testing it relatively easy. Take tests at the same time in Adelaide, Nairobi and Boston and see what correlations shows up.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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