That question did spawn from though experiments about what kind of differences one had to expect in a parallel universe. When reading in fiction about this topic, sometimes the "changed natural laws" comes into place, or a variation of that, where only some of the universal constants did change.

While my knowledge is a bit to small to start from one of these points, I went straight to the effect I am looking for, which would be:

When radioactive material decays in that parallel universe, it does have a fourth kind of decay

Calling it Delta Decay and call a day however did not please me. Because... all in nature comes with a price. And in physics this are usually some thermodynamic costs. That Delta Decay I am after can just not appear out of nowhere, so something else must pay for it.

But I want to keep that universe in a shape, that would it enable to bear life as we know it at planets as we know it, ideally in a copy of our Solar system. But as far as I can guess, these costs I am still ignoring would cause changes almost everywhere nuclear effects are in place. Like... solar nuclear synthesis? Warming due to radioactive decay? Making radioactivity less dangerous, or even more?

That would directly prohibit the requirements I did have on that universe. Which is... not good, I guess.

So what effects on known physics would that fourth kind of decay have?

I know, this is highly hypothetical, and if the science you use to answer this is to hard, the whole concept would most likely break apart. Lets create an environment that sets up the way this observation was made:

Imagine you are a scientist who send a proper probe through a wormhole and get readings on your screen that highly suggest your probe is being exposed to something that is made up like fourth kind of radioactive decay

Also, the "made up" exceeds the level of knowledge I do have, which is why I ended up asking such a strange question.


2 Answers 2


There already exists more than three methods of decay.

Alpha, beta and gamma decay are common forms of radioactive decay that were named by scientists before they had a detailed understanding of particle physics.

Neutron emission, where neutrons are emitted, electron capture, where a proton captures an electron, cluster decay where a small cluster of neutrons and protons are released, and nuclear fission where a radioactive nuclei splits into two or more smaller nuclei.

There are many more minor variations.

If you add another one, unless it's especially powerful, it would just be another article a scientist wrote about an uncommon decay mode.


Well, you said it: Things will change, hard to tell how. I can't help to add more of the same.

Changing constants, or even adding a new particle/interaction/term in some large equation would likely break the universe thoroughly. Physics is full of examples when changing a constant slightly would cause important things to stop working. I can guess why you don't want that. So, the change is engineered precisely to prevent the worst outcomes, say.

Further on, it depends greatly on properties of your new physics, but the following may be common (with tunable scale).

Some elements we know as stable are now delta-radioactive. Stable nuclei generally do not decay because they have no available path going to an even more stable nucleus, even though "more stable" nuclei may exist. Now you are adding more paths. The periodic table may become somewhat shorter. Inverted example: Neutron(ium?) becomes stable once beta decay is prohibited (sounds like good topic for a What If).

Nuclear reactions other than decay work differently as well. Some of them (depending on terminology, you could say all of them) involve "decay", or "decay going backwards". So, when you prohibit beta decay, you also prohibit the Sun from shining, because its fusion reactor uses kind of beta decay. You allow a new decay mode, maybe the Earth starts shining (that would be bad, I think). Or Jupiter. Or just the Sun shines more. Not necessarily bad, this is not our Sun after all. Just make it smaller, or put the Earth farther away. Maybe the Sun shines less, stellar physics is sometimes complicated. Never mind, move the Earth closer.

Maybe cold fusion becomes a thing. That would be good (I think) for a technological civilization, if there is one. There are some less controversial technological uses for miscellaneous radiation, too. Delta tomography, similar to PET or muon tomography, with new features? Delta telescopes, a new window on the universe (the other one, I mean)?

I don't dare to predict the effects of delta radiation on matter. It may range from pure nothing (like neutrino radiation) to turning iron into gold (neutron radiation... when done properly). If it is ionizing, like alpha beta gama are, it may have similar effects: radiation sickness and the like. It may also induce more delta decay—neutron radiation does that to uranium 235. It may also do something else.


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