Monday, August 20, 2012

Changing Something That Can’t Be Changed

Research findings show evidence that the phenomenon is influenced by the Earth's distance from the sun; for example, decay rates are different in January and July, when the Earth is closest and farthest from the sun, respectively.

"When the Earth is farther away, we have fewer solar neutrinos and the decay rate is a little slower," Jenkins said. "When we are closer, there are more neutrinos, and the decay a little faster."

Researchers also have recorded both increases and decreases in decay rates during solar storms.

"What this is telling us is that the sun does influence radioactive decay," Fischbach said.

Neutrinos have the least mass of any known subatomic particle, yet it is plausible that they are somehow affecting the decay rate, he said.

Physicist Ernest Rutherford, known as the father of nuclear physics, in the 1930s conducted experiments indicating the radioactive decay rate is constant, meaning it cannot be altered by external influences.

"Since neutrinos have essentially no mass or charge, the idea that they could be interacting with anything is foreign to physics," Jenkins said. "So, we are saying something that doesn't interact with anything is changing something that can't be changed. Either neutrinos are affecting decay rate or perhaps an unknown particle is."

Last Friday was the new Moon and I looked Saturday and Sunday but I didn’t see the young Moon in the west. Here south of Chicago we had scattered clouds around sunset both days this weekend.

But I looked. I’m inclined to think the looking is the more important part. The seeing is great when it happens, and it does happen, now and then, but I think the looking is the important part.

“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.”

1 Chronicles 28:9

I want to get this one other thing out of the way. This is kind of a loose end of a loose end, but I’m going to do it anyway.

I mentioned a few days ago that when I’m sad I almost always look to music or astronomy to find something to cheer me up. That’s true, and it’s been true for years and years.

Every now and then I have the opposite problem. Every now and then I get so happy that I feel, so to speak, out-of-balance or some such thing. Then I try to get my mind back into a more neutral mood.

Over the weekend I had a bit of an adventure that was kind of fun and someday I’ll be talking more about it. (It was like that solar neutrino stuff—impossible stuff somehow happening.) I felt I needed to calm myself down a little. Now, I know I just said I wasn’t going to talk about Smallville any more, but I’ve got this one last thing.

When I’m sad, astronomy and music almost always cheer me up.

When I’m too happy, I watch the final episode of season three of Smallville, the episode called “Covenant.” That’s the start of the story arc of Lana becoming the witch—she ends the season by leaving Smallville and going to Paris. At that point in the saga, Clark and Lex both love Lana and although she loves Clark, she has decided that nothing will ever happen with him so she is going off to begin a whole new life. She is just friends with Lex. Lex knows she’s only his friend, but he is trying to be a good friend and help her get her Paris trip together. When Lana goes to the airport, Clark is supposed to drive her, but his life is falling apart and he gets involved in something else. Lana takes a bus to the airport. Lex drives over to the airport to say goodbye. Clark finally gets there to say goodbye, too, but he sees Lex and Lana (Lexana!) embracing and doesn’t want to impose.

And over all that, a song called “One Moment More” by Mindy Smith is playing.

That always does it for me. No matter how happy I am, that always brings me back to reality. Or rather reality as I experience it. Whatever.

It has become a famous moment from the show and someone has uploaded the sequence to YouTube. It won't embed, but if you click the pic it links there:

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