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Herndons georeactor

  1. Feb 2, 2009 #1

    wolram

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    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0901/0901.4509.pdf

    Abstract: Herndon’s georeactor at the center of Earth is immune to meltdown, which is not the case for recently published copy-cat georeactors, which would necessarily be subject to “hot” nuclear fuel, prevailing high-temperature environments, and high confining pressures. Herndon’s georeactor uniquely is expected to be self-regulating through establishing a balance between heat-production and actinide settling-out. The seven decade-old idea of convection in the Earth’s fluid core is refuted because thermal expansion cannot overcome the 23% higher density at the core’s bottom than at its top. Some implications of geomagnetic field production within Herndon’s georeactor are briefly described.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 5, 2009 #2
    Obviously studying the deep Earth requires indirect methods because we cannot possibly sample the deep earth by way of drilling. But we can constrain what's down there using geophysical measurements and mineral physics.... Incidentally we know that some of Earth's heat is generated radiogenically, by the decay of U, K, and Th, although how much of this decay is originating in the core I am not sure. Other sources of heat, which are proposed to be sufficient to drive inner core convection include the chemical latent heat released by the gradual crystaliisation of the fluid iron outer core, and conversion of gravitational potential energy to heat, and possibly a couple of others that slip my mind.

    So, a few questions about the model then....

    Does the density of the core, constrained by earth's gravity and moment of inertia as well as results from studying Earth's normal mode vibrations, agree with the model?

    Is this model reasonable given cosmo-chemical constraints? Bear in mind that we understand the chemical evolution of galaxies, and generations of solar systems, we know roughly what the chemical make-up of our planet is. How much actinide substance is actually required by the model and how would this affect density?

    Is there some kind of crystal structure to account for both the chemical and density constraints outlined above? If so, do the elastic properties of this structure agree with results from seismology?

    How does the core's heat generation as predicted from the model affect interpretations of Earth's geothermal gradient - for example what are the implications for mantle convection given a pyrolitic mantle?

    Obviously the Earth is a complex system, how does the model fit into the grand scheme? What are the implications for the relative importance of other processes of heat generation?



    If the model can answer all of the above questions in a consistent manner then I would give it some credibility, but the (peer reviewed???) paper you have linked to does not really get into technical details and it looks like the author has made no attempt to refute any obvious challenges that could be thrown at it. The deep Earth sciences is full of hypotheses and to a very real extent, the success of a hypothesis (at least in terms of its popularity) is governed by the strength of personality of the hypothesist. As cleverer ways of finding out what is going on are developed we often find that popular ideas are proved wrong.

    I would add that the idea of a nuclear reactor at the centre of the earth seems popular amongst non-experts, perhaps based on the specious reasoning that U is dense so would sink to the bottom, ergo the centre of the Earth is a massive ball of U. In fact, U is a rare earth element that gets bound up in light minerals like zircons which are concentrated in Earth's continental crust. I've studied the deep Earth as an undergrad, and from my experience I would say that there are no serious scientists that think the centre of the Earth is a serious nuclear reactor (although there probably is some K down there so some radiogenesis). I don't know anything about nuclear reactors though, so I don't necessarily have a well balanced interpretation of the model...
     
  4. Feb 5, 2009 #3

    Gokul43201

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    One needs to tread very carefully with this thread - Herndon's theory is definitely removed from the mainstream, and the paper in the OP is a pre-print (so it's not reviewed).

    Wollie, is there a published version of this paper?
     
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