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 over time. Subsequent tests carried out the Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Federal Physical and Technical Institute in Germany confirmed the phenomenon - which could not be explained by any conventional theory.
In 2006 a clue was provided when a fluctuation was logged during a large solar flare episode. Some theorists now suggest that the fluctuations might in some way be caused by neutrino emissions from the sun (which vary according to sun cycles).
Although the neutrino theory holds up as far as linking the observations with sun activity - there is no known physical mechanism by which they can affect radioactive decay.
“What we're suggesting is that something that doesn't really interact with anything is changing something that can't be changed.”
See : The strange case of solar flares and radioactive elements Stanford Report, August 23, 2010.
Further reading : The Net Advance of Physics at MIT
Ideas for new topics, and suggested additions / corrections for old ones, are always welcome.
If you have skills or interests in a particular field, and have suggestions for Wikenigma, get in touch !
Or, if you'd like to become a regular contributor . . . request a login password. Registered users can edit the entire content of the site, and also create new pages.
( The 'Notes for contributors' section in the main menu has further information and guidelines etc.)