[meteorite-list] Earths core

From: stan . <laser_maniac_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon Aug 9 11:35:18 2004
Message-ID: <BAY18-F15OEYzk8TRAz000088a2_at_hotmail.com>

> Is it possible that a reactor in the core would simply be large enough
>to self-moderate? Any nuclear engineers out there care to have a shot
>at this?

it would have to be.. dont forget that the core is liquid (discounting the
solid inner core, as presumably it wouldnt differentiate very much) and
subject to immense confining pressure. if a region achieved criticality it
would create a local hotspot, and presumably disrupt it's self - if it didnt
energy output would increase exponentially till the point that very bad
things would happen, provided there was enough fissile material locally

AFIK the natural reactors that have been seen in dense areas of uranium ore
were moderated by ground water. the reactor was critical when groundwater
seeped into the ore, then shut it's self off as the building energy forced
out superheated water.

on a related note - there have been several prompt critical reactors built.
basically little more than 2 hunks of fissile material that start a nuclear
chain reaction when brought close enough together. Such reactors produce
energy at an exponentially increasing manner untill they are either shut
off, or destroy themselves via overheating - melting or actually fragmenting
from shock due to rapid heating (there arent too many ways to heat a 110 lbs
block of uranium from room temp to 3000 degrees in 2 seconds, but an
uncontrolled chain reaction is certainly one of them! :) )

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Received on Mon 09 Aug 2004 11:28:24 AM PDT

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