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In a departure from the usual Wiki format, Wikenigma assigns 'Importance Ratings' to some pages.

The idea is to separate articles which are considered (by the editors) to cover exceptionally important unknown issues from those which (although also u…

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• Jan 2021 : A milestone of 600 unknown articles has been reached.

• Oct 2020 : A milestone of 500 unknown articles has been reached.

• Aug 2020 : Currently (beta) testing the new 'WYSIWYG' (What You See Is What You Get

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Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of the Unknown Science

Radioactive decay

Note: This item is one of a special case - Known Unknowables

Radioactive decay is the process by which the nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting 'radiation' - which can be in the form of alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays or conversion electrons.

The emissions are random in the sense that the exact moment that an alpha particle (for example) is emitted cannot be predicted. Neither can its direction of travel. This randomness is an integral part of current quantum theory, and is consistently confirmed by observations. That's to say that no-one can (or ever will be able to) predict when the next decay event will occur.

“According to the current model of quantum physics, it's completely and genuinely random.”

Source: Marcus du Sautoy, What We Cannot Know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge

Also see: Radioactive decay neutrino anomalyplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigRadioactive decay neutrino anomaly

Around yr2000, researchers at Purdue University, US, noticed that some radioactive sources - which should decay completely randomly - sometimes show peaks and troughs (i.e. cyclic variations) in the averaged radiation they produce ove…

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