Plus, this discovery could help us predict deadly solar flares.
It’s one of the most basic concepts in all of chemistry: Radioactive elements decay at a constant rate.
As Peter Sturrock explains: “It’s an effect that no one yet understands. [If it’s not neutrinos,] 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.” If these new discoveries hold up, then we’ve discovered that the sun changes rates radioactive decay, that we can predict solar flares before they happen, that the sun’s core rotates slower than its surface, and maybe even that an entirely unknown particle exists and is affecting our world in a tangible way.
Not a bad set of results for what was supposed to be a simple search for some random numbers. When researchers found an unusual linkage between solar flares and the inner life of radioactive elements on Earth, it touched off a scientific detective investigation that could end up protecting the lives of space-walking astronauts and maybe rewriting some of the assumptions of physics.
In fact, the decrease began a good 36 hours before the flare occurred.