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It is a long-held tenet of nuclear physics, from the early work of Rutherford and Soddy up to present times that the disintegration of each species of radioactive nuclide occurs randomly at a constant rate unaffected by interactions with the external environment. During the past 15 years or so, reports have been published of some 10 or more unstable nuclides with non-exponential, periodic decay rates claimed to be of geophysical, astrophysical, or cosmological origin. Deviations from standard exponential decay are weak, and the claims are controversial. This paper examines the effects of a periodic decay rate on the statistical distributions of 1) nuclear activity measurements and 2) nuclear lifetime measurements. It is demonstrated that the modifications to these distributions are approximately 100 times more sensitive to non-standard radioactive decay than measurements of the decay curve, power spectrum, or autocorrelation function for corresponding system parameters.


Published under Open Access terms as:

Silverman, M.P. (2015) Effects of a Periodic Decay Rate on the Statistics of Radioactive Decay: New Methods to Search for Violations of the Law of Radioactive Change. Journal of Modern Physics, 6, 1533-1553.

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