Earth’s First Nuclear Reactor Is 1.7 Billion Years Old, And Was Made Naturally
“By examining the concentrations of xenon isotopes that become trapped in the mineral formations surrounding the uranium ore deposits, humanity, like an outstanding detective, has been able to calculate the specific timeline of the reactor. For approximately 30 minutes, the reactor would go critical, with fission proceeding until the water boils away. Over the next ~150 minutes, there would be a cooldown period, after which water would flood the mineral ore again and fusion would restart.
This three hour cycle would repeat itself for hundreds of thousands of years, until the ever-decreasing amount of U-235 reached a low-enough level, below that ~3% amount, that a chain reaction could no longer be sustained. At that point, all that both U-235 and U-238 could do is radioactively decay.”
When humanity first unlocked the secrets of nuclear power, by splitting the atom, it was generally thought that we were the first world to ever experience a sustained fission reaction. Where else, but on a world teeming with intelligent life, could the ingredients be put together so carefully to create a chain reaction that doesn’t peter out? Imagine our surprise, then, when we discovered a site where nuclear fission occurred, naturally, for hundreds of thousands of years, long before the evolution of even the simplest animals. Nuclear fission isn’t a human invention, but is one of the oldest natural forms of energy to come into existence on our world.