Early Human Evolution, Natural Nuclear reactors and thoughts

EmptyKube's picture

Don't know where else to ramble about these things, so I picked here.
I was doing some routine surfing of some of the science sites I try to follow when I saw an article about evidence for an expanding Earth.
Naturally I was curious. It seems plate tectonics isn't the only theory out there to explain how our geology formed. There is a theory that the Earth was smaller as recently as 140 million years ago (smaller Earth= smaller mass= less gravity= larger animals...do the math...140 million years ago would be smack dab in the middle of dino-age, but that's a whole nother aside!) The idea is that there is a continual flow from the interior of the earth that pushes old crust outward and drapes it in new crust. I'm still shakey on the details casue I just did a marathon hyperlink crusade and haven't digested everything yet. But I got to thinking what this would mean if it were true. Wouldn't such a situation require a continual generation of matter, and isn't that suppossed to be impossible?
Then I recalled another theory, one that claims there is a nuclear fission reactor at Earth's core. So I went in search of information. How would this effect the expanding earth idea? Turns out that there is a type of reactor called a "breeder reactor" that generates its own fuel until there is no more source of fuel to burn. Again, pardon the sketchy details, still nead time to digest. So, if a fission reactor exits at the core, and if it generates new particles et, what does this eman for the above stated theory. Not sure, because I got side tracked! I discovered that there is 1) a hell of a lot of uranium in Africa (specifically the general area where humans are suspected to have originated ...general area defined as several hundred/thousand mile area) 2) in West Africa a natural fission reactor existed some two billion years ago and ran for some undetermined length of time (possibly sevral thousand years.) BTW The natural reactor was a "breeder", hence the reason it came up in my search at all.
So here is what I throw out for thought :
Does anyone know how long radioactive waste from a nuclear reactor stays "hot?" Is it possible that all the primate variation that existed among human ancestors from several billion years ago to recent millenia was the result of radioactive decay of natural uranium deposits and the waste of the natural fission reactor in West Africa? If so, doesn't that speak volumes for human evolution? And, just in case you thought I forgot my original thought, if the Earth does expand, and its mass and gravity change, did the meteor strike really kill the dinos, or was that just a traumatic moment and what really did them in was a slow and steady increase in the Earth's mass/gravity? And, last but not least, if the earth is expanding, where the hell does the extra mass come from!!
Still researching, but I would love some input from anyone else.
More to follow, one day!

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Re:Early Human Evolution, Natural Nuclear reactors and thoughts

Well first, let's be clear on the terms mass, weight, and size.

Mass is the quantity of matter, and the only way to increase it is to get more matter. The Earth cannot get more massive, unless more mass comes in from space and sticks to it.

Weight is the product of mass and gravity. Since gravity is an acceleration, weight is actually a force. Your weight decreases as you move away from the Earth, but your mass won't change unless you drop pieces of yourself.

By "size" I assume you mean volume. You can make something bigger without changing its mass by creating spaces in between the molecules. Water expands when you freeze it because it turns into crystals, and the crystals have space in between them.

So the Earth can only get bigger if more mass comes in from space, and/or the existing mass "fluffs up" to take up more volume.

We know there is a constant stream of matter arriving from space, and over millennia that probably adds up to a helluva lot. I doubt it's significant compared to the existing mass though... but maybe billions of years ago two blobs of matter smacked into each other and condensed to become Earth. Who knows?

We also transmit matter back into space in the form of energy (remember matter is just concentrated energy) but with e=mc^2 that amount is teeny tiny. I think we can ignore it, especially since most of it has come in the last couple hundred years. Except maybe for radiated heat. Dunno.

The half-life of uranium depends on the isotope, some are in the hundreds of millions of years and some are in the billions. U-238 is the most common isotope, and it's half-life is 2.5 billion years. I found somewhere that the byproducts of a breeder reactor are Uranium-235, which has a half-life of 704 million years, and Plutonium-239, which has a half life of 24 thousand years.

From what I recall (university physics was 10 years ago) some isotopes may be really unstable and decay in seconds or days or whatever -- but most of those don't occur naturally and are the result of some weird reaction or human activity.

Anyway, it doesn't matter, because uranium and plutonium decay mean a [b]reduction[/b] in the Earth's mass, because it means the conversion of matter to energy. Some energy is converted to heat and the rest goes out into the cosmos as gamma rays, x-rays, etc.

The heat may contribute to volume (size) in some way though. It could be enough to melt rock into lava, which could then solidify into a less dense substance.

So conclusions:

Extra mass on the Earth must have come from outer space, most likely from a large body. That holds with the meteor-killing-dinosaurs theory. The increase in mass would create an increase in size.

A natural breeder reactor somewhere on Earth could not create an increase in mass, but indirectly could create an increase in volume.

I'm not a complete idiot -- some parts are missing.

camidon's picture

Re:Early Human Evolution, Natural Nuclear reactors and thoughts

I'm not one to discount any ideas immediately, science is based on obsevation and experiments, and both of these are done by humans which means nothing is 100% correct. There have been many instances where scientists have been proven wrong or right or both. At its most basic, the concept of an expanding earth (or other planets) does make for a good science fiction idea.

Physics and chemistry was never my forte, but I can tell you a few things about rocks. Now, I will certainly admit that I was born and bread on plate tectonics. That is geology's recent golden child. To simply call Plate Tectonics "continental drift" is to toss out half of what the theory is trying to explain. Continental Drift was a word used by Alfred Wegner in the 1910's-1930's? to understand why the world map looked so much like a puzzle. It has nothing to do with subduction zones and rift margins, and so on. So what, geologists are still looking for a mechanism to really explain how plates moves, it doesn't mean the theory is totally debunked. Wait a few decades as technology continues to improve. The plate tectonics revolution is still in its infancy (40 years old). Biologists are still working on evolutionary theory. I certainly could go into slab pull, slab push, Benioff Zones, and so on if I wanted to, but that's not the point.

I was very amused by the argument against plate tectonics on other planets based on a handful of photos. That's such week evidence. It's like the conclusion of "canals" on mars when it was studied using a telescope. As it happens, as more data comes in, evidence for plate tectonics builds. I worked with a guy who was a planetary geologist. He was using data gathered by the Mars mission that crashed (I can't recall the name) The only reason he had the data that he had, was because of the mission crashing. It sent back data from a portion of the planet is wasn't suppose to. In that area, he found magnetic stripes, (similar to those in oceans on Earth) that suggests polar reversals and crustal evolution. Tack on to that pictures of what look like hot spot tracks (Hawaaiin islands example) were taken during the first Mars mission (Voyager?). It's quite possible plate tectonics existed at one time on Mars. Essentially, we need data, and that does not come cheap in any science.

People will always try to destruct current theories for political, religious, or self-serving gains. How long has evolution been around, and more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than evolution (NY Times article). Theories are just that theories. They must stand up to scientific scrutiny. Is plate tectonics explain everything? No, does that mean it's incorrect? Let the research prove or disprove theories.

The arguments for the expanding earth idea have no fewer holes than plate tectonics. The guy who wrote about it was far more interested in raising a stink and peoples emotions than giving solid evidence. Am I totally against that idea? No, but evidence is needed. These guys need to solid research, and not simply tack their viewpoint on a website.

One other point: Do I think a meteor killed the dinos. Yes and no. That there was a large meteor impact in the Yucatan is certainly true. However, there are hundereds of large impacts that have had no affect on mass extinctions. More evidence is needed. Did the meteor help the dinos along into oblivion. Yes. It caused firestorms and tsunamis, an eventual cool down of the planet. What's often overllooked is that it took millions of years for the die off to occur. The extinctions were a slow process (unlike the extinctions of today). That means, other animals adapted to the Earth's change better than the dinos. Warm blooded vs cold blooded.

Lots to digest.

----

Life is a lot like caving: Most of the time you grope around in the dark.

EmptyKube's picture

Re:Early Human Evolution, Natural Nuclear reactors and thoughts

[quote="eddycurrents"]Well first, let's be clear on the terms mass, weight, and size.

Mass is the quantity of matter, and the only way to increase it is to get more matter. The Earth cannot get more massive, unless more mass comes in from space and sticks to it.

Weight is the product of mass and gravity. Since gravity is an acceleration, weight is actually a force. Your weight decreases as you move away from the Earth, but your mass won't change unless you drop pieces of yourself.

.[/quote]

Your right, you need more mass /matter to change a planet's size or volume so that gravity is effected. That's one of the things that intrigued me about the idea to begin with. Where does the extra mass come from? The theory claims two things, one that some comes from space, and two, that it is sponteneously generated at the Earth's core, which would require either lots of energy, or lots of mass. That's where the idea of a nuclear reactor at the core, instead of the traditional picture of earth's core came in. Large energy source . Mind you, the expanding earth theory doesn't claim there is a reactor at earth's core, that's a different theory, but one which intrigued me especially if the expanding earth theory were true. How would either hold up to each other? That sort of thing. BTW, here is a link to a page about the reactor:
http://www.evworld.com/databases/shownews.cfm?pageid=news110602-07

See, one way to get more matter is also to take advantage of quantum foam. This is the so called zero-point , the region of space at 10 to the minus 35 meters where spacetime breaks down into a certain fuzziness. At this level virtual particles are seething in and out of existence. Pairs of particles with opposite orientations (positive and negative) come into exitence and collide and extinguish each other. That's why they're virtual, they never get a chance to get very far. But, add either a large mass that twists spacetime enough that the pairs don't meet, or a large energy source in a very limited volume of space, and you can effectively create matter out of nothing. This is a variation on the steady state theory of the universe, btw. What fascinated me about the two ideas together, (expanding earth and reactor at core) was this idea of a large energy sourc in a confined space. The implications for the spacetime in the immediate vacinity of the core could be intreresting. Mind you I'm only speculating, for the purposes of fiction, not for any scientific value:) Here is a link for the expanding earth theory, also.

http://microlnx.com/expansion/

Actually that one is about dinos and the expanding earth.
here is one just about the expanding earth.

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Launchpad/8098/1.htm

As to the idea of human origins, I'm still interested in how much radioactive elements exits in the region of Africa where we are suppossed to have developed. I might take soem time and see if anyone has ever traced the speciation of other creatures in that region. Wouldn't be a gas to find out that what made Africa the "Cradle of Life" was radioactive decay?
Have fun.
Mike

Re:Early Human Evolution, Natural Nuclear reactors and thoughts

Posted on behalf of Herbie:

Hey Mike, I can tell you now where your marathon surfing session will end
up.

42!!

No, seriously. lol. Some parts of this theory seems a little far-fetched to
me. As far as a growing/enlarging earth is concerned. Colour-me-stoopid if I
didn't actually believe that was actually what was happening anyway. The
land masses that the planet started with all those billions of years ago,
were being constantly added to by vulcanism. That is to say that volcanoes,
above and below the oceans were constantly spewing out tonnes of debris,
which inevitably adds to the mass of the planet.

Linking that to the demise of the dinosaurs is a bit of a stretch, even with
someone with as prodigious an imagination as i have. For one thing, the
increase in mass would have taken place over tens of thousands, if not
millions of years, wouldn't it??? so wouldn't evolution just work its
miraculous ways causing the dinosaurs to gradually get smaller. Or to
gradually acquire the kind of strength it would take to withstand the
increasing gravity?

And while we are on the subject of mass and size. If the current
gravitational pull that the earth is currently exerting would be too much
for a dinosaur. what the hell is that Jurassic Park all about. lol.

Anyway, I digress. See what you've started now. lol. Anyway....again! That
brings us to the point you made about the uranium. Was the radioactive decay
that existed/exists in that area of africa the spark that lit the
evolutionary conflagration which ended with the diversity and richness of
life that now abound? Well here's a question for you. Doesn't radiation
destroy more than it creates? To be sure it also causes changes/mutations
which are part and parcel of what evolution is all about. There are also
some forms of radiation which aren't that harmful at all, but we are talking
about Uranium right?

How long the radioactive waste stays hot for, that all depends upon what the
source material is. The half life of some radioactive substances can be
measured in millionths of a second whereas others can be millions of years.

All in all Mike, an interesting theory, but I wouldn't hold out for it
displacing all of the other theories that currently abound. That pesky
Darwin.

Herbie

I'm not a complete idiot -- some parts are missing.

Re:Early Human Evolution, Natural Nuclear reactors and thoughts

The theory about an enlarging earth is new to me, though I have read a recent article about a new theory that earth's core is comprised of uranium, not iron.

Dinosaurs, it has been theorized, would not be able to survive on today's earth. Our atmosphere is much thinner now. Apparently, the larger the animal, the harder it is for the animal to suck air into its lungs. I'm not sure why this is, but maybe that's why land mammals have never caught up with the dinosaurs in size.

To err is human. I am not human.