Researchers Have Finding Video A 2 Billion Year Old Nuclear Reactor - Physics-Astronomy.org

Researchers Have Finding Video A 2 Billion Year Old Nuclear Reactor

An very old nuclear reactor that was churning away 2 billion years ago sounds like a fabricated myth. Maybe it's since the term reactor implies a manmade structure. in its place, the reactor is a region of normal uranium within the Earth's crust, establish in Okla, Gabon. Uranium is naturally radioactive, and the conditions in this rocky area happen to be just right to cook up some nuclear reactions.
The natural reactor have to have annoyed nuclear scientists: The first nuclear reactor to create electricity started up in 1951, and this single produced a trivial amount of energy. The pile of rock in the ground in Okla, on the extra hand, had created nuclear power around 2 billion years ago!
 It was discovered in 1972, when a number of French scientists took uranium ore from the mine in Gabon to check its uranium content. Now, typically, uranium ore is complete up of three types (isotopes) of uranium, every one with a different number of neutrons: Uranium 238, which is the majority abundant, uranium 234, which is the rarest, & uranium 235, which nuclear scientists are most interested in since it can sustain nuclear chain reactions.
One would expect to discover that the uranium ore is composed of 0.720% uranium 235 since that is the percentage establish in other rock samples from the Earth's crust, the Moon and even meteorites. However, these French scientists establish something fishy: The uranium sample only contained 0.717% of uranium 235. What might seem to be a minor discrepancy of 0.003% is very important with regards to uranium.
That meant that, back at the mine, about 200 kilograms (around 440 pounds) of uranium 235 appear to be missing. It hadn't been lost or stolen. in its place, this missing 0.003% had undergone nuclear fission and split into other atoms. This conclusion may very fine have furrowed some brows since there are three very specific conditions that a reactor needs to churn out energy incessantly. And as even scientists had struggled to create a nuclear reactor, it seemed unlikely that nature presently happened to create one purely by accident.
Unlikely, but not impossible, because that is exactly what happen.
The conditions that the natural reactor happened to complete are as follows.
The first owned a good percentage of Uranium 235 to fuel the reaction. While 0.720% might seem small, it's perfect for nuclear fission, and when the ore sample from Okla are compared to other samples from all over the world, it is likely that this was the fraction over 2 billion years ago when the reactor started.
Researchers Have Finding Video A  2 Billion Year Old Nuclear Reactor
The second state is a source of neutrons. Uranium 235 decays naturally into thorium and releases a neutron in the process. This neutron can then whoosh towards another Uranium 235 atom and create the fission process. Nuclear fission is when an atom breaks apart into smaller atoms, typically releasing energy in the process. This neutron fuses with a Uranium 235, and jointly they combine to form Uranium 236, which is unstable. The Uranium 236 is then overwhelmed with instability and splits, create a variety of smaller, steady atoms and some neutrons. These neutrons can then happily shoot towards other atoms and continue the chain reaction.
The nuclear reactor had a provider of a regulating substance as well: a flow of natural groundwater. As the atoms started to split, they at large neutrons as well as energy. The water would slow down the neutrons, but the energy would heat up the water. After a time, the water would get so hot that it would create to boil off. Eventually, enough of the water would have boiled away until there wasn't sufficient left in the reactor to slow down the neutrons. The neutrons in progress shooting off into the ground without react with anything, & the reaction would stop. Then, the natural flow of groundwater would trickle in until there was enough water to create the whole process again. This watery cycle probably sustained for hundreds of thousands of years.
Sadly, all good days are numbered, even for a content natural reactor: The levels of uranium 235 got used up and the level was too low to sustain any extra meaningful reactions. The reactor finally slowed to a stop, leaving only a little trace after that it ever existed – including the enigma of the "missing uranium."

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