31 July 2006 (PhysicsWeb.org) – A group of physicists in Germany claims to have discovered a way of speeding up radioactive decay that could render nuclear waste harmless on timescales of just a few tens of years. Their proposed technique – which involves slashing the half-life of an alpha emitter by embedding it in a metal and cooling the metal to a few degrees kelvin – could therefore avoid the need to bury nuclear waste in deep repositories, a hugely expensive and politically difficult process. But other researchers are sceptical and believe that the technique contradicts well-established theory as well as experiment.

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