I came across a couple of very interesting blog posts today.
This post describes how it has been observed that decay rates of radioactive materials seem to vary between different times of the year, suggesting that distance from the Sun has an effect in some way. Interesting observation, and if true, could lead to two very interesting consequences:
1. All the methods to calculate the age of the Earth and prehistoric sites and organisms (for example, carbon dating) will have to be modified; and what does that say about the age of the Earth being 4.6 billion years? How certain is that?
2. Whatever effect the Sun has on decay rates can be simulated on Earth (near Nuclear reactors for example) to speed up the rates of decay of radioactive materials, thus giving more options to get rid of nuclear waste.
This other post talks about recent NASA observations that the magnetic field of the Sun is at a 50 year low. This adds to the observations for some time now that the Sun’s behavior has not been as expected – does this have any implications for times to come?
This is a good time to have some doomsday thoughts, and wonder whether predictions of a 10 billion year lifetime for the Sun is reliably accurate!! (Of course they are – what’s 50 years of variation to 5 billion years (the Sun’s present age) of fusion?).
Makes you wonder how much we really don’t know about the Sun, the Earth, the Solar System, and Cosmology in general, doesn’t it? This is the interesting thing about Cosmology, I think – just when man thinks he has something covered in terms of logical explanations, the Cosmos responds with a tiny variation that throws all the predictions off the tracks!!
Interesting times continue, now boosted by the introduction of the Large Hadron Collider.