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Sunday, December 21, 2014

There Seems To Be No Question About It: The Sun Affects Some Radioactive Half-Lives

Posted by jlwile on August 20, 2012

Almost three years ago, I wrote about how I had changed my mind on radioactive half-lives. Throughout my scientific education (from high school through graduate school), I had it pounded in my head that radioactive half-lives are constant. There is so much energy involved in radioactive decay that there is just no way to change the fundamental rate at which a given radioactive isotope decays without taking extreme measures that don’t generally occur in nature. This was considered a scientific fact, and to question it was just not reasonable.

Over the years, however, more and more evidence has been piling up indicating that this scientific “fact” is simply not true. Some of the most surprising evidence has come from Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and a German lab known as the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB). The group at BNL had been studying the radioactive decay of silicon-32, and they noticed that the half-life of the decay periodically increased and decreased based on the time of year. The half-life was shortest in the winter and longest in the summer. The variations were very small, but they were measurable. The PTB group was studying the decay of radium-226, and they noticed the exact same behavior. In the end, both groups concluded that the half-lives of these two isotopes were changing slightly in direct correlation with the minor variation in the distance between the earth and the sun. Thus, they concluded that the sun was affecting the rate of decay in those two isotopes.1

This conclusion was bolstered by a fortunate coincidence in which the BNL group was measuring the radioactive decay of manganese-54 before, during, and after the solar flare that occurred on December 13, 2006. They noticed that the half-life of that isotope’s radioactive decay increased more than a day before the solar flare occurred. In addition, the behavior repeated itself on December 17, when another solar flare occurred.2 Based on these two papers, it seemed obvious that the sun was exerting some influence over the half-lives of at least some radioactive isotopes.

Obviously, of course, others tried to replicate these results, and they weren’t always successful. A group at the University of California Berkeley analyzed their data for several different radioactive isotopes but saw no correlation between their half-lives and the seasons.3 However, a reanalysis of the same data seemed to show some variation correlated with the distance between the earth and the sun, although it was much weaker than what was seen by BNL and PTB. The authors of the reanalysis suggested that perhaps the influence of the sun was different for different isotopes. Since different isotopes have different half-lives, it makes sense that they would respond differently to an outside influence such as the sun.4

Well, some new data have come to light, and as far as I can tell, they confirm that at least for some radioactive isotopes, the sun is affecting the value of their half-lives.

These data come from a third lab, The Ohio State University Research Reactor. This lab wasn’t doing experiments to determine whether or not radioactive half-lives are affected by the sun. Instead, as a part of their standard routine, they use a detector to measure the background radiation in the lab. On a weekly basis, however, they calibrate that detector by using it to measure the amount of radiation coming from a standard chlorine-36 isotope. So here we have the same detector being used to measure background radiation as well as the activity of a chlorine-36 isotope. The paper shows that once again, the chlorine-36 isotope’s half-life varies annually, and once again, it is shortest in the winter and longest in the summer.5

Not only is this a different lab presenting the same results with yet another isotope, there is an extra piece of data in this study that makes the case rather ironclad. One of the obvious objections to all observations of annual changes in half-life is that these changes also correlate to the seasons. Since the seasons bring changing weather (which results in changes in the operations of a lab’s environmental controls), it is possible that all these observations are the result of changes in the detectors’ surroundings. If the surroundings change, the detectors’ responses might change, and that could account for what is being observed.

In this case, however, the detector was being used to detect both the background radiation and the activity of the chlorine-36 isotope. In Figure 4 of the paper, the authors show that the variation exists when the detector is measuring the chlorine-36 source, but it does not exist when the detector is measuring the background radiation. If the observed variation in half-life were the result of changes in the detector’s response, you would expect to see it in the background measurements as well. Since you don’t, it seems very clear that the changes observed in the half-life of the chlorine-36 isotope are real.

Indeed, some have decided that the case is so strong that they have proposed using this effect as an advanced warning system for solar flares. Solar flares can be very harmful to satellites, electronic systems, and even the power grid. An advanced warning system for solar flares would allow those in charge of such systems to take steps that might mitigate the damage.

Now while I do agree that the data strongly indicate the sun exerts an effect on the half-lives of some isotopes, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. For example, based on what has been observed so far, the solar effect exists only for one class of radioactive isotopes: those that emit beta particles.* Studies have shown no effect for isotopes that emit alpha particles. Why? In addition, it is clear that the variation in half-life is dependent on the isotope – some isotopes’ half-lives vary more than others. While it makes sense that this should be the case, we still don’t know why.

Of course, that brings me to the biggest question of all: “How does the sun exert an effect on some radioactive half-lives?” The answer right now is that we simply don’t know. Some have suggested that the neutrinos coming from the sun might be affecting the isotopes in some way. However, neutrinos are notoriously hard to detect specifically because they don’t interact with matter very well. Thus, it is hard to understand what they could be doing to the isotopes. Also, there is at least one experiment that casts some doubt on that explanation.

While the answers to these questions remain open, I think we can safely conclude one thing: we obviously don’t know as much about radioactive decay as we thought we did! After all, based on what we know about radioactive decay, most scientists concluded that radioactive half-lives are always constant. We now know that this is simply not true. As a result, we should be very skeptical of any conclusion that requires the assumption of constant radioactive half-lives!

REFERENCES

1. JH Jenkins, E Fischbach, JB Buncher, JT Gruenwald, DE Krause, and JJ Mattes, “Evidence of correlations between nuclear decay rates and Earth-Sun distance,” Astroparticle Physics 32(1):42-46, 2009.
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2. JH Jenkins, and E Fischbach, “Perturbation of nuclear decay rates during the solar flare of 2006 December 13,” Astroparticle Physics 31(6):407-411, 2009.
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3. E. B. Norman, E. Browne, H. A. Shugart, T. H. Joshi, and R. B. Firestone, “Evidence against correlations between nuclear decay rates and Earth-Sun distance,” Astroparticle Physics 31(2):135-137, 2009.
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4. D. Javorsek, P. A. Sturrock, R. N. Lasenby, A. N. Lasenby, J. B. Buncher, E. Fischbach, J. T. Gruenwald, A. W. Hoft, T. J. Horan, J. H. Jenkins, J. L. Kerford, R. H. Lee, A. Longman, J. J. Mattes, B. L. Morreale, D. B. Morris, R. N. Mudry, J. R. Newport, D. O’Keefe, M. A. Petrelli, M. A. Silver, C. A. Stewart, and B. Terry, “Power spectrum analyses of nuclear decay rates,” Astroparticle Physics 34(1):173–178, 2010.
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5. Jere H. Jenkins, Kevin R. Herminghuysen, Thomas E. Blue, Ephraim Fischbach, Daniel Javorsek II, Andrew C. Kauffman, Daniel W. Mundye, Peter A. Sturrock, Joseph W. Talnagi, “Additional experimental evidence for a solar influence on nuclear decay rates,” Astroparticle Physics http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.astropartphys.2012.07.008 2012.
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* A reader asked for clarification on this point, since radium-226 emits alpha particles, not beta particles. While radium-226 does have a rare double-beta decay option, the real issue is that when radium-226 emits an alpha particle, the result (radon-222) is not stable and also decays. In fact, a whole chain of decays ensue, and some of those decays are beta decays. The practical result, then, is that a radium-226 source contains lots of different isotopes, all of which are decaying according to their own energetics. When the varying half-life effect was first seen, it was thought that the effect was caused by the alpha decay of radium-226. However, other isotopes that decay by alpha emission show no such effect. As a result, the authors have shown that the effect seen with the radium-226 source is actually a result of the beta decay of the isotopes produced in the decay chain.
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Comments

22 Responses to “There Seems To Be No Question About It: The Sun Affects Some Radioactive Half-Lives”
  1. Michael H says:

    Having been employed in the nuclear industry most of my working life I found this to be of particular interest. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. jlwile says:

    My pleasure, Michael!

  3. Jason says:

    Would this affect carbon dating as well?

  4. Kevin N says:

    Jay — I don’t have easy access to the articles. What is the magnitude of the changes in decay rates?

  5. jlwile says:

    Jason, it wouldn’t necessarily affect carbon-14 dating. The main effect is annual – the half-life increases and decreases over a year. Those changes would average out, so that over many years, the half-life would seem rather constant. Now…the secondary effect (solar flares) could affect carbon dating, because if the sun’s activity was markedly different in the past, beta decay rates would have been markedly different as well. My main point is that no one had any idea something as minor as the change in distance between the earth and the sun could affect radioactive half-lives. Since we now know that it does, one wonders what other processes affect half-lives as well.

  6. jlwile says:

    Kevin, as I say in the post, it is slight, and the magnitude varies depending on the isotope. The BNL data showed a change of about 0.2%, while the Ohio State data showed a change of about 0.1%.

  7. Joshua says:

    I won’t have a chance to read the articles in the near future, so I hope you will forgive any naive questions Dr. Wile.

    From what you describe, it seems like these studies have mostly been correlation studies, and if so, it would be a premature to attribute the change to the sun. There are a myriad of other factors that change with the seasons. Were they able to control any affects from the sun (other than the neutrino experiment)? I’m thinking varying filters/shielding to block different radiation types and such. The diversity of the results would also indicate that other factors must be influencing the results, and further making it a bit early to conclude it is the sun. If I recall my astronomy properly, solar changes are typically very predictable, so this variation indicates to me other factors are involved. Were any researchers able to detect a diurnal change? I would expect a change during nighttime readings if the effect was solar radiation (no change if it was other factors, like gravitational field changes).

  8. jlwile says:

    Joshua, I think the reason they believe the sun is involved is because of the solar flare experiment. While there are a myriad of things that change with the seasons, the fact that the same kind of effect was correlated with a solar flare indicates that the sun is involved in some way.

    Certainly more investigation should be done, but I don’t think shielding is the answer, nor is a night/day comparison. I am not saying such experiments shouldn’t be done. I am just saying that as a nuclear chemist, I did a lot of work on radioactive sources with and without shielding, depending on what I was trying to accomplish. I would think that if it were something that could be affected by shielding, it would have been seen already. Also, assuming that my shielding reasoning is correct, then I don’t think the night/day experiment would see any effect, since the earth is just a big shield during the night.

  9. Joshua says:

    Solar flare is what made me think of radiation, especially in the X-ray region. I don’t think a flare would cause any other measurable change at the distance of the Earth, like gravitational or magnetic field changes. If you say shielding experiments have likely been performed with no effect seen, that makes me more skeptical of a solar influence.

    I was thinking on what potential causes could be attributed to both a solar flare and distance from the sun (seasons), and the only common factor was radiative flux. If radiation is not likely the cause, I am at a loss for a readily available common cause. Maybe proton flux? But that likely won’t affect a surface measurement. Either way, this seems indicative of beta emitters being affected by something, but attribution of a cause without experiments investigating causal relationships seems like presumption.

  10. Tony Carey says:

    My understanding is that it is still not possible to say whether the annual cycles of variation in radioactive decay
    correspond with the Max/min Earth-Sun distance or the Max/min absolute
    velocity with respect to the cosmic microwave background – ie to distinguish
    between a peak at a minimum solar distance on Jan 4 or at the max cosmic
    velocity close to Dec 21.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Sir,

    As a graduate of the Purdue Physics Department with a Ph.D. I can tell you that this research is anything but settled.

    Professor Fischbach is well known for developing theories that are based off of bogus experimental data. In one case he went as far as to argue against Richard Feynman about a supposed 5th Force even though the experimental results he was using were already shown by Feynman to contradict his original hypothesis.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=_RN-v31rXuIC&pg=PA65&lpg=PA65&dq=fischbach+feynman+5th+force&source=bl&ots=eCYNk9QtFN&sig=cW-trdoFGiaCNAnRQh8Itl241Ws&hl=en#v=onepage&q=fischbach%20feynman%205th%20force&f=false

    He is once again repeating this pattern without understanding that more modern experiments have been performed that disprove many of his hypothesis.

    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2008/oct/02/the-mystery-of-the-varying-nuclear-decay

    While it is possible this research may uncover something it seems very likely that their results are based upon experimental error. In short, this research is being ignored for a reason in that they have been unable to respond to the very precise experiments done that contradict their results.

    Also, I would strongly suggest avoiding using any sort of fluxuation in carbon-14 dating to argue against the age of the earth. The age of the earth is well established by not only this type of dating but also through measurements of temperature of the earth that are compared temperatures found by solving Fourier’s Law of Heat Conduction.

  12. jlwile says:

    Joshua, you might be a bit narrow in your thinking. For example, neutrino flux increases during a solar flare, but shielding wouldn’t really affect the neutrinos, since they barely interact with matter at all. Of course, given that they barely interact with matter, it is hard to understand how they affect half-lives…

    I think the solar flare correlation combined with the seasonal correlation indicates the sun is responsible in some way. Obviously, future experiments will have to determine exactly how it happens.

  13. jlwile says:

    That’s a good point, Tony. However, we are once again left with the solar flare correlation. I don’t see how that can be explained in reference to the cosmic microwave background.

  14. jlwile says:

    Anonymous, I find it interesting that you are so eager to attack Professor Fischbach but are unwilling to even state your name. The fact is that I really don’t care who is the author of these papers. To me, the key is that the data indicate something is going on here. If there was just one person in just one lab seeing this effect, that would lead to a lot of skepticism. However, we now have the effect observed in three different labs. Thus, if you want to claim the effect is not real, it seems to me that you need to produce some data which indicate it is not real. I don’t see that. Especially in your second link, I see a lot of statements indicating disbelief, but the statements use no data to back up that disbelief. This reminds me a lot of the quasicrystal fiasco, in which the entire chemistry community was willing to deny the data for a long time before finally admitting that quasicrystals are real.

    You claim that this research is being “ignored,” but it is certainly not being ignored. Indeed, it is being published in a peer-reviewed physics journal. It is also getting widespread attention, enough that people who don’t want to believe the results have to be quoted in articles like the physicsworld.com article you linked!

    I am not sure who you are reading, but I don’t know of anyone who uses fluctuations in carbon-14 dating to argue against the age of the earth. As any PhD in physics should know, the theoretical limit to the carbon-14 dating system is 100,000 years. The practical limit is much shorter. As a result, no one uses carbon-14 dating for the age of the earth. Other radiometric dating techniques (like potassium/argon and uranium/lead) are used to come up with the supposed 4.6-billion-year age of the earth.

    As far as using heat conduction as evidence for the age of the earth, you need to learn a bit more about the process. As this paper indicates, there are an enormous number of uncertainties in regards to how heat flows in the earth. As a result, using it to determine the age of the earth requires an enormous number of assumptions that can lead to an enormous variety of answers.

  15. Joshua says:

    Yes, neutrino flux changes too, but in the main article you talked about an experiment that casts doubt on neutrinos as being the cause.

    I don’t see my thoughts as narrow-minded. I’m simply being cautious. The declaration of a cause without evidence indicating specific causation is presumptuous. Correlation will help guide experimental design to find that cause, but to make the leap from ‘changes in half-life are correlated to sun flares and seasons’ to ‘the sun causes changes in half-lifes’ is beyond the scope of the data available.

    Again, I’m not advocating the insignificance of the results. Factors that affect half-lives are woefully understudied, especially in some practical aspects, like accelerating decay products from nuclear waste. I’m simply saying, while it could be the cause, it is also certainly possible that it’s not.

  16. jlwile says:

    Joshua, I would certainly agree that it’s possible the sun is not the cause. However, given the fact that the effect is seen both annually and in response to solar flares, the most likely conclusion is that the sun is to blame.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The burden of proof is upon the experimentor to prove the hypothesis. Three random experiments that did not take into account experimental noise in no way need to be disproven.

    Also, anyone who received a crediable doctorate should know that 1 peer-reviewed paper in one journal and three random experiments that are less accurate than other ones available in no way constitutes validating a very speculative theory.

    Please refer to the research done by Cooper in which he responds to Fischbachs claims about his research and the other numerous peer reviewed articles that undermine the variation in nuclear decay. This was already done which forced Fischbach’s group to change their story once already.

    In response to you comments on the age of the earth. Please refer to the original calculation done by Lord Kelvin as the approximations he made in no way undermine the age he calculated.

  18. jlwile says:

    Anonymous, I agree that the burden of proof is on the experimenter, and the experimenters have provided a lot of evidence to support their hypothesis. I think you need to actually look into this some more, as you seem to have some misconceptions regarding the experiments. First, there are at least four peer-reviewed papers, not one. They are all conveniently located in the references for this post, so you can easily find out what they are and read them. Second, the experiments did, indeed, take into account experimental noise. As I point out in this article, for example, the latest paper shows the background measurements and the isotope measurements made by the same detector. The periodic effect exists only in the isotope data, not in the background data. Other data that indicate experimental noise cannot be to blame are provided in the papers as well.

    When you actually read the studies, the fifth reference of this post contains a discussion of both Cooper and Norman’s objections, and you will see that they do not undermine the conclusion.

    Lord Kelvin’s original calculation indicated that the earth was 20 million to 400 million years. Clearly the assumptions he made undermined his calculation, as no one believes those numbers today!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Dear Sir,

    They have had ONE peer reviewed paper in a journal I would consider major. Many more were rejected on the basis of:

    1) They never truly account for the possibility of seasonal detector variation
    2) A proper mechanism for the variation was never hypothesized initially and added as an after thought

    Likewise you do not understand that they initially were using Cooper’s work to prove their own ideas. Cooper had to come back and say that they had no idea what they were talking about. Later, they went back and changed their original ideas so they weren’t in contradiction with Cooper’s work even though they were the ones that chose to use it!

    I personally have no problem with Fischbach as he was a reasonable teacher in my opinion but I am very much concerned when this sort of bad science is coming out of my alma mater. Likewise, it is also worth noting he is repeating his bad old habits. He is now trying to use this to argue for a 5th force which is even more absurd than his claim all detector noise is accounted for. See one of his more “reputable” journal articles.

    “Time-Dependent Nuclear Decay Parameters: New Evidence for New Forces? “, E. Fischbach, J.B. Buncher, J.T. Gruenwald, J.H. Jenkins, D.E. Krause, J.J. Mattes and J.R. Newport, Space Sci. Rev., 145, 285-335 (2009).

    As a nuclear scientist the first thing you should do when you see this sort of research is ask the first point under the objections I raised. You and I are both fully well aware of how sensative nuclear detectors are to background noise. Fischbachs group completely ignored this possibility early on and jumped at this the idea of variable nuclear decay as a first option. This tells you something about their research. Even if their original idea is correct, which at this point appears unlikely, they are still wrong in the way they approached the problem as scientists.

    Also, I’m sorry, but they still have not disproven the most likely culprit of seasonal detector variation. Every time they are asked this, they dance around the topic and then say they have done statistical tests to prove this is not the case.

    In regards to Kelvin, I was refering to his orginal modeling concept, not his boundary/initial conditions which were doubted from the initial time he made them. Subsequent work quickly established a rough approximation for the age of the eath within a few million years if I remember correctly. In that regards though, my apologizies for even bring this up in that it is probably much better to debate seperately as all it will do is disorder your original argument.

  20. jlwile says:

    Anonymous, it is very easy to try to dismiss data that you don’t like by claiming the papers which present the data aren’t in “major” peer reviewed journals. The fact is that the journal Astroparticle Physics is a peer-reviewed journal. Its impact factor of 3.216 is higher than many journals.

    1) They most certainly do account for the possibility of seasonal detector variation. As I said before, they show the background and source data taken from the same detector over the same period of time. The periodic variation is in the source data and not the background data.

    2) Whether or not they have a mechanism does not affect whether or not the data are real. Obviously, if the data are real, this is new physics, and anyone with a PhD should know that new physics is often found long before a reasonable mechanism explaining it can be found.

    You claim to have no problem with Fischbach, but you have done nothing but malign him without ever once presenting any evidence that there is something wrong with his data.

    I do understand how sensitive nuclear detectors can be. As I said above, however, the authors have done an excellent job showing that it is not a detector problem, as the same detector sees the periodic behavior in the source but not in the background. They have not “danced around” the subject. However, you have. Please explain to me how it can be a seasonal variation issue when:

    A) It was also correlated with solar flares

    B) The same detector over the same time period sees the periodic variation only in the source, not in the background

    You would do best to leave the idea that heat flow in the earth demonstrates it is billions of years old. As the original article I linked explains, such calculations are fraught with difficulty, which is why Kelvin came up with a number that no one believes today.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Dear Sir,

    I have not dismissed any data much merely stated it does not prove anything as related to claims being made. I have explicity stated my problem to you about Professor Fischbachs method and have indicated that while his original hypothesis may be correct it is unlikely.

    You seem to be very invested emotionally into this research as is displayed in your title where you state: “There seems to be no question about it”. Perhaps a better question might be why you are defending this research rather than scrutinizing its irregularities. You also seem to be skipping over the fact that the original work itself was in contradiction to the experimental evidence they were using! Please see my points in the previous post.

    As a point of interest on your initial post, I find it interesting you would say the following:

    “As a result, we should be very skeptical of any conclusion that requires the assumption of constant radioactive half-lives!”

    Rather you should say we should be skeptical of the controversial new research!

    As I stated, they have published in one highly rated journal and were rejected by many more. The reason for this rejection is based upon their method, conclusions, and experimental analysis.

    In response to your first points:

    1) This was an addition after subsequent crisism. It does not rule out all of their research but it most likely accounts for large portion of their very early work.
    2) This would be true if they published it without the desire to show variablity in nuclear decay. They should have simply published the work as anomolies related to nuclear measurement. The point is they went way too far in their original publications which is tainting their present research. There sort of a claim should require years of testing before you would even begin to think about a variablity in the decay rate. Instead it was the first thing they published based off results that were shown to contradict their original hypothesis!

    In regards to your points on the detectors:

    A and B) To me, that would say the solar flares are most likely effecting the electronics of the measuring device. Not actual decay rate. Likewise much of the data they are using looks cherry picked to me. Now I grant you I can’t specifically say that “there is no variability of the decay rates” however, what I can say is it is most likely due to fluxuations with the measuring device. As is the first rule of experimentation, always assume it is the device. This again goes back to my initial critism of the research; they didn’t do this at the initial stages of this research!

    Also, there is no reason why to leave the idea the earth is billions of years as related to heat flow behind. I merely didn’t want to derail your present argument. I would invite you to read “Conduction of Heat in Solids” by Carslaw and Jaegar for a detailed history of the matter which is far better than the article you posted. In regards to the original calculations done by the deeply religious Lord Kelvin it still shows the earth is far older than any biblical interpretation!

    In conclusion, I can say as a Christian and a scientist I am not being a prior influenced in evaluating the results of this research except as so far as the researcher themselves have show some undesirable scientific tendancies before.

    Can you say the same?

  22. jlwile says:

    Anonymous, it seems like you are the one who is emotionally invested in this. I am simply following the data. You, on the other hand, are attacking Dr. Fischbach. As I have made clear, the original work is not nearly as interesting as the fact that it has been confirmed in separate experiments. That, in fact, is why I am inclined to accept the results of the research. I prefer to follow the data rather than cling to paradigms. The data seem very clear, and until someone can produce some data that indicate the effect isn’t real (and no one has), it is most reasonable to accept the data and try to understand the result.

    I agree that they were rejected by several journals. So was Dr. Dan Shechtman. Many journals would prefer to cling to old paradigms than follow what the data say. Of course, Dr. Shechtman was vindicated, and the journals that refused to publish him were embarrassed. That’s what happens when you ignore the data. Once again, you can try to dismiss the data you don’t like by stating that they have only one paper published in a “major” journal, but that sounds a lot like the “No True Scotsman” fallacy to me. The fact is that they have several papers published in the peer-reviewed literature, and those papers make a strong case for variable radioactive half-lives. Far from being “not major,” the Astroparticle Physics journal has a track record of impacting physics research, as my previous link demonstrated.

    1) I agree that their accounting for the detector variation was an addition after subsequent criticism. However, they did it, contrary to your previous claim. At least you are now willing to admit that they did it. That’s at least an improvement over your previous comments. In addition, the way that have accounted for seasonal variation adds a great deal of confidence to their conclusion.

    2) If the data indicate that half lives-vary, then it is very reasonable to conclude that half-lives vary. They were simply making a reasonable conclusion based on their experimental data. Their motives are irrelevant. Once again, that’s another logical fallacy – a subcategory of the ad hominem fallacy. Interestingly enough, I find that ad hominem attacks are most often used by people who are emotionally invested in the argument.

    I notice that in your attempt to respond to my points A and B, you do nothing but handwaving. You claim that the solar flares affected the electronics. Why, then, didn’t everyone see the effects on all their instruments? Because they weren’t looking at a beta-emitter at the time. You also say that the data look like cherry picking. However, you don’t give any rationale for this conclusion. Is your conclusion possibly the result of you being emotionally invested in fighting Dr. Fischbach? The fact is that the data are not cherry-picked, as you can easily understand by simply reading the papers. They tell you exactly what they did, and their procedure leaves no room for cherry-picking.

    Also, I note that you conveniently left out the fact that the same detector was used over the same timeframe to measure both source and background. While the periodic effect showed up in the source, it did not show up in the background. Once again, I ask you to explain this fact if the result is just an artifact of the device used. Is it the result of some nefarious behavior on the part of Dr. Fischbach?

    I would invite you to read the article on heat flow that I originally linked to you. It discusses in detail the problems modeling heat flow in the earth. The myriad of assumptions necessary in order to make such a model allow you to produce many, many different ages for the earth. You just change your assumptions until you get the answer you want.

    Actually, you cannot say you aren’t being a prior influenced in the evaluation of this research. You started this discussion by attacking Dr. Fischbach, and you continue to do so, even going so far as to use an ad hominem attack on him in this very comment. To me, that indicates serious a prior influence. I, on the other hand, can say I have no a prior influence in relation to this work. I don’t know Dr. Fischbach or his colleagues at all, and if this research is falsified, I don’t lose anything. I am simply following the data and not clinging to paradigms.

    Can you say the same?

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