80 Years of “Scientific Fact” Wrong! Radioactive Decay Rates Not Constant?

Posted by on Oct 26, 2012 in Articles | 3 comments

Whoa! For those who thought that radioactive decay rates were constant and ensured “absolute” dating techniques, research by Ephraim Fischbach and Jere Jenkins of Purdue University may vibrate some nerve endings.

It appears that solar neutrinos or perhaps an unknown particle actually changes the decay rate. Over the last 6 years, seasonal fluctuations of the decay rate have been observed which correspond to the Earth’s proximity to the sun. The decay rate also appears to be affected by solar flares! This overturns 80 years of “scientific fact.”

In the 1930’s, Ernest Rutherford, who is known as the father of nuclear physics, “proved” experimentally that the decay rate is constant meaning that outside influences cannot alter it.

Science Daily (August 13, 2012) quotes Jenkins as saying,”Since neutrinos have essentially no mass or charge, the idea that they could be interacting with anything is foreign to physics. So, we are saying something that doesn’t interact with anything is changing something that can’t be changed. Either neutrinos are affecting [the] decay rate or perhaps an unknown particle is.”

The logical conclusion from this potentially “apple-cart-overturning” research is that decay rates can change significantly. The data looks compelling and, if substantiated by further research,  may have huge implications on the assumed constancy of radioactive decay rates. The changes noted in the current research are not, in themselves, enough to allow dismissing the vast numbers of “accepted” dates assigned to geologic formations, but it opens a door to further research of other factors which could play a part. If we consider for instance, solar flares, the shrinking of the sun, the effect of outside cosmic radiation, and even the possibility of an expanding universe, “absolute” dates could be affected drastically.

This isn’t the first time the decay rate assumption has been challenged by actual observational science. John Woodmorape reported research in 2001 giving results which indicated changes of a decay rate of a factor of a billion. [see CMI’s article: “Billion-fold acceleration of radioactivity demonstrated in laboratory.”] Also, observations reported in the RATE project conducted by the Institute for Creation Research indicate a greatly accelerated decay rate in the past.

For detailed data on the Purdue research, see: “Evidence of Solar Influences on Nuclear Decay Rates” from Purdur and also Solar Physics (2011) 272(1): 1- 10. Also see another creation response to this research titled: “Neutrinos – The not-so-neutral particles” from CMI.

By Dave Nutting

Originally published in the September/October 2012 Think and Believe newsletter.


  1. “If we consider for instance, solar flares, the shrinking of the sun, the effect of outside cosmic radiation, and even the possibility of an expanding universe, “absolute” dates could be affected drastically.”

    Solar flares changed decay rates by 1/10 of a percent. Hardly get’s you from 4 billion years to 6000 years, which is the drastic affect you are needing to find to reconcile Biblical timelines with natural phenomena.

    • I would agree if that was the only consideration. It is primarily showing that there are variables that are not taken into consideration and the exactness of the dating and the starting assumptions are greatly over exaggerated. I would recommend looking into the RATE project that was conducted for a more extensive handling of the topic. Please take a look at an article that we tweeted out today from ICR( http://bit.ly/1KPkOn5 ), especially the multiple linked articles at the end that may more directly address your question. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Obviously, decay rates of elements are not a fact. There is no way of knowing the decay rates of elements in the past since we weren’t there. We don’t know what the conditions were like in the past. And we don’t know whether there are things that alter or were things that altered decay rates that we have yet to discover. Furthermore, the use of radiometric dating has more flaws than just the question of whether decay rates are constant or not. For one, there’s no way of knowing whether daughter elements were present in rocks before crystallization or whether they were produced by the radioactive element. Radioactive dating is not authentic. It is supported by assumptions, not fact.

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