Earth's Natural Nuclear Reactor

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by Pine_net, Aug 1, 2002.

  1. Pine_net Chaos Product Registered Senior Member

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    Discover Magazine

    Is there a five-mile-wide ball of hellaciously hot uranium seething at the center of the Earth? If so, how is this Natural Nuclear reaction set off? Could dark matter actually be huge spheres of matter that just couldn't get that fire started?

    Click here to find out what I found.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2002
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  3. Pine_net Chaos Product Registered Senior Member

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    What if the earth lost it's magnetic field for a while? What would the earth be like? I know that it is believed that some animals such as birds use the earths magnetic field for navigation. Would birds loose their way? What other things would happen?

    Another great link: NuclearPlanet.com
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2002
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  5. overdoze human Registered Senior Member

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    Why not?

    The heaviest elements sink to the bottom. I actually find it surprising that we find things like Uranium so close to the surface.

    As for the magnetic field, the biggest effect is to safeguard the Earth's atmosphere from the solar wind (and other sundry cosmic radiation.) Without our magnetosphere, Earth would have lost much of its gaseous envelope and probably would be a lot more like Mars.
     
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  7. Pine_net Chaos Product Registered Senior Member

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    So how do we protect the masses from cosmic death. That would suck ass for everyone to die yike dat.

    Some possible ideas...

    Leave earth
    or we could
    Leave earth
    or maybe even....
    Nano shields up.

    Seriously though, Shields up!! Shields up!!!

    heh
     
  8. BatM Member At Large Registered Senior Member

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    Embrace the Force, Luke...

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  9. Awaranowski Registered Senior Member

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    Wait.. Does Uranium even exist naturally?
     
  10. kmguru Staff Member

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    Normally everything except Gold, Platnum and Diamond oxidize over time (there may be other elements that do not, I can not remember...).

    So Uranium is found as Uranium Oxide. Volcanic eruptions might pump out elemental Uranium and Thorium too...
     
  11. Emfuser Registered Senior Member

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    That's about the dumbest damn thing I've read all day.

    If you seriously believe that the earth's core is a giant natural nuclear reactor then you should be posting in the SciFi forum.








    (what in the world causes people to believe such BS?!?!?!?

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    )
     
  12. kmguru Staff Member

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    Ah...ummm...welll...cough cough...

    The Discover Magazine??? Check out their website...

    AUGUST 2002 HIGHLIGHTS
    COVER STORY
    Nuclear Planet By Brad Lemley
    Geophysicists have long assumed that the center of Earth is just a big hot ball of iron and nickel. But a bold new theory suggests we are perched atop a gigantic fission reactor fueled by a five-mile-wide core of solid uranium.

    Nuclear Planet

    Is there a five-mile-wide ball of hellaciously hot uranium seething at the center of the Earth?

    By Brad Lemley


    What is Earth? Poets say it's a celestial sapphire, a cerulean orb. Astronomers say it's a medium-size planet orbiting an average star. Some environmentalists say it's Mother. Biologists say it's life's only known home. But the most scientifically precise definition may prove to be the one that no one suspected. Earth, says geophysicist J. Marvin Herndon, is a gigantic natural nuclear power plant. We live on its thick shield, while 4,000 miles below our feet a five-mile-wide ball of uranium burns, churns, and reacts, creating the planet's magnetic field as well as the heat that powers volcanoes and continental-plate movements. Herndon's theory boldly contradicts the view that has dominated geophysics since the 1940s: that Earth's inner core is a huge ball of partially crystallized iron and nickel, slowly cooling and growing as it surrenders heat into a fluid core. Radioactivity, in this model, is just a supplementary heat source, with widely dispersed isotopes decaying on their own, not concentrated.

    Full text of this article can be found in the current issue of Discover Magazine.

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    Scientific Papers by J. Marvin Herndon on Planetary Nuclear Fission Reactors

    J. M. Herndon (1992) Nuclear fission reactors as energy sources for the giant outer planets. Published in English in the German journal, Naturwissenschaften, vol. 79, pp 7-14.

    J. M. Herndon (1993) Feasibility of a nuclear fission reactor at the center of the earth as the energy source for the geomagnetic field. Published in English in the Japanese journal, Journal of Geomagnetism and Geoelectricity, vol. 45, pp 423-437.

    J. M. Herndon (1994) Planetary and protostellar nuclear fission; implications for planetary change, stellar ignition and dark matter. Published in the British journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series A, vol. 445, pp. 453-461.

    J. M. Herndon (1996) Sub-structure of the inner core of the earth. Published in the American journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), vol. 93, pp. 646-648.

    J. M. Herndon (1998) Composition of the deep interior of the earth: divergent geophysical development with fundamentally different geophysical implications. Published in English in the international journal, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, vol. 105, p.1-4.

    J. M. Herndon (1998) Examining the overlooked implications of natural nuclear reactors. Published in the American journal, Eos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, vol. 79, no. 38, pp. 451, 456. [see text]

    D. F. Hollenbach and J. M. Herndon (2001) Deep-earth reactor: nuclear fission, helium, and the geomagnetic field. Published in the American journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), vol. 98, no. 20, pp. 11085-11090.



    Scientific Papers by J. Marvin Herndon on Deep-Earth Composition

    J. M. Herndon (1979) The nickel silicide inner core of the Earth. Published in the British journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series A, vol. 368, pp. 495-500.

    J. M. Herndon (1980) The chemical composition of the interior shells of the Earth. Published in the British journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series A, vol. 372, pp. 149-152.

    J. M. Herndon (1982) The object at the centre of the Earth. Published in English in the German journal, Naturwissenschaften, vol. 69, pp 34-37.

    J. M. Herndon (1993) Feasibility of a nuclear fission reactor at the center of the earth as the energy source for the geomagnetic field. Published in English in the Japanese journal, Journal of Geomagnetism and Geoelectricity, vol. 45, pp 423-437.

    J. M. Herndon (1996) Sub-structure of the inner core of the earth. Published in the American journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), vol. 93, pp. 646-648.

    J. M. Herndon (1998) Composition of the deep interior of the earth: divergent geophysical development with fundamentally different geophysical implications. Published in English in the international journal, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, vol. 105, p.1-4.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2002
  13. mgs Registered Member

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  14. Pine_net Chaos Product Registered Senior Member

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    Oh you mean nonsense like people going to the moon and stuff, WOW the land sure is flat around here. heh heh
     
  15. Emfuser Registered Senior Member

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    Perhaps you don't understand. That REALLY IS the dumbest thing I've heard in awhile. I guess you have to have better undertanding of how nuclear reactions and nuclear energy work, but the idea that the core of the earth is a 5 mi diameter sphere of uranium that is a stable nuclear reactor providing energy to the earth is just stupid.

    There are far too many factors involved to have a stable nuclear reactor when carefully constructed by us; first thing that comes to mind is moderators. NO WAY all that would occur naturally on that scale (size), in that shape, for this long a period of time, at the core of the earth.
     
  16. overdoze human Registered Senior Member

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    310
    Emfuser,

    Why not? Check out the Oklo nuclear reactor, e.g.

    http://www.alamut.com/proj/98/nuclearGarden/bookTexts/Lovelock_Oklo.html

    That's natural and not engineered by anyone. And, it's right here at the crust's surface.

    Now, I doubt you would dispute the fact that the crust is made up of the lightest elements in our planet; the heaviest (like iron) sink to the bottom. Uranium and other heavy elements are much heavier than iron, so why do you think they wouldn't sink even faster and concentrate at the center?

    The nucleus of our planet might as well be a site of continuous nuclear explosion over the last few billion years. Why don't we see any effects from this? Well, consider the titanic pressure exerted by the upper layers of the planet! Plus, the surface is insulated from the core by thousands of kilometers of material; this is the ultimate in "underground" nuclear testing.

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    Besides if it weren't for nuclear heat, volcanism might have already ground to a halt by now.

    As for possible moderators, consider that any nuclear material in the core is not pure or concentrated; it's still mixed with iron and whatever else is down there. If it gets too concentrated at the core, its temperature will increase so much and so quickly and it will become so much hotter than anything around it that despite its greater weight it would convect upward thus diluting its concentrations and re-mixing with less enriched magma. So this system can easily regulate itself automatically.
     
  17. kmguru Staff Member

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    11,757
    NO WAY all that would occur naturally on that scale (size), in that shape, for this long a period of time, at the core of the earth.


    The SUN does not exist....it is not natural...on that scale...in that shape...for this long a time....it is a myth....
     
  18. overdoze human Registered Senior Member

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    kmguru,

    Technically, the sun is a fusion (as opposed to fission) reactor.

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    Besides, the surface properties of the sun vs. earth are a tad different, no?

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  19. Lesion42 Deranged Hermit Registered Senior Member

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    Discover is an awesome magazine. I read that article. Makes good sense.
     
  20. Pine_net Chaos Product Registered Senior Member

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    I knew it was just a matter of time before someone brought up the Oklo reactor. That's some very cool evidence for natural occurance. I believe the scientists search for Benzine and He3 around volcanic activity is the right way to go. How else could someone prove this claim?
     
  21. Emfuser Registered Senior Member

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    *sigh*
    Yes the Oklo reactor is fascinating. Natural Uranium ore with the right amounts of moderator (water and low Z elements) in the right concentrations in a relatively small area ON THE SURFACE.

    The core of the earth is a ridiculous scale for a fission reactor, there are no moderators and no refueling, plus the energy created (released) by a natural occurance of that scale (ignoring the other reasons it wouldn't happen) would not be steady state and would definitely have catastrophic effects on the planet far beyond the normal earth activity we see. Such a scale would essentially make a giant bomb out of the earth's core. Nothing that would be continuous, just a really REALLY big bomb.

    It sure as hell isn't a continuous nuclear explosion... especially if you're suggesting fusion. Fusion is out of the question here because our core is heavy elements like iron and nickel and those are the elements that destroy stars when they're formed in the core.

    Ok lets ignore moderators (and every other point, for the sake of arguing this one point). Let's say it's a fast fission system. Now you have the problem of all sorts of transuranics, fission fragments, poisons (like Xe) and "spent" fuel working against the reaction. Not to mention the fact that all the fissionable and fissile elements would've been used up relatively quickly in an even distribution throughout the core.

    You obviously don't know enough about the basic principles of nuclear energy (basic reactions, concepts of fast and thermal fission, fuel consumption, etc) for your arguements to hold water. I understand why you're thinking the way you are, and can tell you with a pretty high degree of certainty that it's incorrect, for the most part.

    The sun is mainly composed of light elements and works on F-U-S-I-O-N (http://www.howstuffworks.com/sun.htm). The disucssion at hand appears to be about the suggestion that the earth's core is a giant F-I-S-S-I-O-N reactor (http://www.howstuffworks.com/nuclear-power.htm). Overdoze, you should check those out too.

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  22. Pine_net Chaos Product Registered Senior Member

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  23. overdoze human Registered Senior Member

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    Ooooo, aren't we feeling arrogant today

    What's so ridiculous about it? It doesn't even have to be a single fission reactor; there could be many at any one time down there, arising from local chance concentrations of radioactivity.

    There are plenty of moderators (it's all suspended in molten iron), and as for refueling you're right. However, we aren't talking about your normal functional fission reactor. Rather, we're talking about a "fission reactor" in a state of continuous meltdown.

    And why wouldn't it be?

    And how do you determine that?

    Fission reactor meltdowns are not the same as nuke explosions. If you know as much about nuclear processes as you claim, you at least ought to know this much.

    Good grief, where did that come from? FYI, most of us know the difference between fission and fusion ever since Junior High.

    They would float up by virtue of being lighter. And the "goal" of the "reactor" is not optimal output. It simply generates a lot of heat over long periods of time, gradually losing its useful nuclear energy stored when the heavy elements were created in a supernova explosion a long time before Earth's formation.

    That's perhaps the only strong point of your argument. However, I don't see why this would necessarily happen. It's reasonable to assume that the amount of fissionable and fissile material in the core dwarfs by far any material present in the crust or even the mantle. If there is still fissionable material in the crust after all this time, then there certainly is fissionable material in the core. Not to even mention that most of today's crust has been generated from deeper mantle fairly recently -- i.e. a few hundred million years ago.

    Moreover, the material in the core cannot become so concentrated as to produce a catastrophic explosion, because that very heat will tend to disperse the material as soon as it becomes too concentrated. The heat generated by fission would act on radioactive atoms like the charge on positive ions, preventing them from getting too close to each other and tending to distribute them outward around the surface of the core while gravity and currents work to counter that effect. So you have a more or less steady-state, sustained, low-level fission reaction churning within the currents of molten iron in the core for millions and billions of years.

    Nobody knows enough. Barrels of radioactive waste, after a few years, contain a mixture of elements and chemicals that is currently unpredictable. Nuclear waste managers actually have to sample the brew to determine what's in it at any particular moment in time; it's impossible to predict the contents theoretically at this stage. Moreover, even low-grade nuclear waste tends to heat up dangerously if it becomes too concentrated or there is too great of a volume. This is not due to any standard nuclear reaction used in fission power plants.

    You'll have to show us all where your certainty comes from. I hope the answer is not hubris.
     

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