View Full Version : Possible source of Jupiter's heat and Earth's magnetic pole flipping?

2007-Sep-17, 04:03 PM
I do not put this in the ATM because I am just asking how plausible is this interesting theory;
Planetary fission reactors

"Large, gaseous planets, such as Jupiter, radiate more energy into space than they receive from the Sun. (In the case of Jupiter, the radiated energy is almost twice the received energy.) The source of this energy was originally attributed to gravitational contraction, since gravitational potential energy conversion into heat seemed to be the heat source of sufficient magnitude to account for the quantity of energy released. In 1992, Dr. J. Marvin Herndon, an American nuclear geochemist, postulated that the excess energy could be explained by the existence of a central nuclear reactor. High-density fissile elements (i.e. uranium) would be concentrated at the core and could undergo sustained nuclear fission chain reactions. Herndon demonstrated the feasibility of a planetocentric nuclear reactor using Fermi's nuclear reactor theory, calculations similar to those used in nuclear-reactor design."

Can it be true?What is the opinion of mainstream sciencists on this theory?

"Planetary fusion reactions

In seemingly unrelated work, Steven E. Jones of Brigham Young University has speculated on the existence of natural fusion reactions at planetary cores, continuing work initiated by Dr. Paul Palmer (also of BYU) in 1986. Their initial work was also focused on explaining the excess heat given off by Jupiter and then extended to include possible application to Earth. The term geo-fusion is used to describe their theory. Geo-fusion is a form of cold fusion (Although geo-fusion is not the type of room-temperature fusion described by Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, Jones was working on muon-catalyzed fusion and was intending to publish his results simultaneously with Pons and Fleischmann, at the nearby University of Utah, when they "scooped" him with their public announcement). Jones hypothesizes that geo-fusion is driven by the high pressures present at planetary cores. Jones has suggested that measurements of the levels of tritium released by volcanic processes may provide a possible confirmation of the theory. Herndon's theory also explains the switching of the poles of the Earth's magnetic field, whereas traditional "core" theories are quite simply "stumped" by this event. Evidence of these switches are plainly evident at the mid-ocean ridges."

2007-Sep-21, 11:53 PM
I suppose a fission reactor is possible near the mass center of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. It may even be producing 1% of the extra heat, But it would be poisoned by the daughters produced in a few million years, if not much sooner, so the 4.6 billion year age of the gas giants suggests not likely. Neil

2007-Sep-22, 04:47 PM
Herndon's idea of a fission reactor at the Earth's core is certainly not accepted by mainstream geologists. I'd take a look at the criticism section of that wiki page, for a start.

The idea is based on two very dubious propositions: (a) That uranium (or any heavy element) would naturally go to the center of the Earth. This is almost certainly untrue. It is a misunderstanding of chemistry and statistical physics at a very fundamental level. (b) That there is something about Earth's heat flow or helium that is so wildly discordant with our usual ideas that it requires an outrageous hypothesis to explain it. This is incorrect.
For a start, the most common and reactive fissile material. uranium, is a lithophilic element, which binds most readily with the rocky material of the mantle rather than with the core. So it is more likely to be found in material near the Earth's surface than in the core; this makes natural fission reactors more likely in the crust and mantle than in the core.

In fact the Oklo reactor is a very rare example of a near-surface phenomenon, rather than something which occurs more often at depth.

2007-Sep-26, 05:31 PM
Neilzero, I think the Oklo natural reactor kept going, on and off, for quite a few million years (it was only critical when moderated with groundwater).

I have that paper about the fission reactor at the centre of the earth somewhere and I too think its a bit far-fetched.

However, I thought it was quite a mainstream idea that some limited fusion of deuterium might be happening in the middle of Jupiter?