Missileer student's research to be published
By Senior Airman Steve Bauer, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 15, 2010
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A 392nd Training Squadron student here is slated to have his research, conducted at the United States Air Force Academy, published in the October issue of Astroparticle Physics.*
2nd Lt. Billy Terry, a 392nd TRS missileer student, questioned the previous notion that nuclear decay rates are constant under virtually all conditions with his article: Power spectrum analyses of nuclear decay rates.
Nuclear decay is the process by which the nucleus of an atom loses energy as it emits ionizing particles or radiation, which ultimately transforms the atom of one type into another.
So why was senior cadre at the Air Force Academy studying nuclear decay? The answer is because of the potential effects nuclear decay can have on Air Force operations.
"For example, if there are radioactive elements on a satellite and those elements power the satellite, nuclear decay fluctuations can have a significant impact on the satellite's mission," said Lieutenant Terry. "So the Air Force was very interested in this research, and that is how I got involved."
Lieutenant Terry, along with 22 other group members, analyzed the results from a spectral analysis of nuclear decay data displaying annually varying periodic fluctuations. After reviewing numerous data sets, the group's research concluded that annual periodicity of nuclear decay is a real effect, but that further study involving additional, carefully controlled, experiments will be needed to establish its origin.
"I hope that this research will lead to a better understanding of nuclear decay," said Lieutenant Terry.
Lieutenant Terry is a native of Seminole, Texas. He received his commission upon graduation at the U.S. Air Force Academy majoring in physics in 2009. Lieutenant Terry is on track to graduate from missileer training at the 392nd TRS on Oct. 12. From Vandenberg, he will assume the position of a deputy crew commander of ICBM operations at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.
"Lieutenant Terry's been a model student at the 392d TRS," said Capt. Dennis Crawford, the 392nd TRS assistant flight commander. "For his age, as a young lieutenant, he has an incredible work ethic and a maturity level beyond his years. He is incredibly enthusiastic to be joining the nuclear career field. He has one of the highest academic averages in his intercontinental ballistic missile initial skills training class of 30 students and I expect nothing but great things from him when he joins his operational unit at Malmstrom in October."
* Astroparticle Physics is a scientific journal that covers experimental and theoretical research papers for educational use in the interacting fields of cosmic ray physics, astrology and astrophysics, cosmology, and particle physics.