Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nuclear is Natural

Did you know that there are naturally occurring nuclear reactors in uranium deposits in Gabon?

Maybe I should say were since none are currently active (that we know about) and most of the 16 possible sites were up and running so to speak millions or billions of years ago. The short version is that water flooded the uranium deposits and somehow acted as a neutron moderator which set off the chain reaction for fission. Things heated up the water boiled off, things cooled down the water reflooded the uranium and boom more fission, apparently this cycle was repeated for approximately 150,000 years and none of them ever blew up.

I got the story from kottke, who linked to Wikipedia but then came back to offer this more interesting BLDGBLOG post which then goes on to link to a Scientific American piece which I haven't gotten to yet.

Needless to say this is very cool.

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