Sunday, March 06, 2011

Ancient Geological Formations Were Working Reactors

In sixteen different areas in an African uranium mine are ancient evidence that at one point in distant history there were naturally occurring nuclear reactors capable of generating 100kws of electricity! What is even more astounding is that the reaction was stable for thousands of years. Now before you get yourself in a tizzy remember how powerful 100kws is. An electric heater pulls about 5kws so we are talking about 20 or so heaters. But it's how LONG they ran, now that's amazing! How can a reactor sustain itself without running away and melting down? It seems that ground water played a big part. It only ran periodically so the reaction had a chance to build and then water was introduced to inhibit runaway. So for a hundred thousand years or so this system would heat up and then water would shut it off only to start over again. I know, gross oversimplification of the process - but to be able to take place at all a few billion years ago is mind twisting!

Scientific American
via Dvice blog


Dave Tackett said...

Low power or not, it's still pretty amazing.

Beam Me Up said...

Yeah, at the end of the day that should be the take home on this. Not that it was low power but that it can happen at all. I would suspect that given all the new worlds that are being discovered, among the youngest would be the possibility that naturally occurring reactors exist! How wild it that?!

Dave Tackett said...

Quite fascinating, although I doubt we'll know for certain any time soon. Look how long it took to find it right under our noses.

Beam Me Up said...

yep, boy does that remind me of an old comedy skit...."do you see any radioactive particles in my nose?" hummm loses something in the years...

John said...

What's amazing is how many things we don't understand. There are so many things we've just discovered for ourselves which have been going on for millions, perhaps billions of years. Like the discovery of Ancient Egyptians being exposed to modern antibiotics through the consumption of beer. (watch the documentary: How beer saved the world)

And this list of crazy things just keeps getting longer and longer which each passing day.

Whatever we know or are capable of knowing has to already exist in some form or another (it has to have a physical basis or probability)... A thought is just as bound by the laws of physics/probability as a bar of Gold. So, the thought has to exist in some form before it was ever thought of... So, the answer to any question you might have is there, you simply have to find a way to reach it.

Beam Me Up said...

Dead on John!
I love this approach! FYI I did see the documentary How Beer Saved the World and loved some of the postulations made and became so plausible when you just said...hey wait a sec?!!
My brother is a bit of a home brewer and he insisted I watch for just such a claim ad the modern antibiotics exposure. So many people are ready to attribute something like this to absolutely outrageous possibilities when the reality is every bit as amazing and mysterious!

Thanks for the point!