Co(s)mic Influences in Nuclear Decay?

My husband is having fun again…

Co(s)mic Influences in Nuclear Decay?

Cosmic Rays

© Simon Swordy (U. Chicago), NASA

This article is a continuation of the previous one “Cosmos reflecting on a nuclear level“. Here I will deal with some details of the whole co(s)mic story. Indeed, it has cosmic proportions, but it also has a bit of a comic side.

Just few days ago I finished writing a preliminary version of a chapter for my book on Quantum Fractals. The title of this particular chapter is “Stochastic nature of quantum measurement processes.” “Stochastic” is just a different name for “random”, and “random” is just a different word for “we do not understand why things happen and we can’t predict the outcomes, though we seem to be able to predict averages”. There are many things around us that may be considered as “random”, not only lottery numbers. But are they really random? This is the subject of the chapter that I wrote, where I had in mind “quantum events” that are often considered as “truly random” – no one can predict, for instance when a given radioactive atom is going to split into parts. Or so we think. But is that really so?

I do not have an answer to this question, but I wrote more or less what I know about various aspects of the problem. So, I wrote my chapter and sent it for comments to one of the top experts in nuclear decay research, prof. A. G. Parkhomov from Moscow Lomonosov University (see my previous post for more details on this subject). At the same time, since I was also discussing some mathematical issues in the same chapter, I asked another colleague, mathematician and statistician J.S., in the USA, for his critical comments. In response, I received an encouraging message from Moscow and a discouraging message from the US.

Well, I am joking a little bit. Prof. Parkhomov pointed me to a 2004 paper by Falkenberg – and I will tell more about this case below. My mathematician friend pointed out several errors with my English and also several inappropriate mathematical terms that I was using. He also noticed that, at one point, when I was writing the word “cosmic”, I wrote, in fact “comic”. He laughed about it because he himself is very skeptical about any possibility of cosmic influences. He thinks I am not just naive with my openness – I am even “dangerous”. I thought that the game of co(s)mic influences is trying to tell us something, so I included it into the title of this article.

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.