OCT 05, 2018 12:56 PM PDT

Nuclear Reactor, Constructed by Nature

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

Uranium-235, making up about 0.72% of natural uranium on Earth, is a fissile radioisotope that can fuel a nuclear chain reaction. 

Back in 1972, staffs who were working at a uranium enrichment facility in France discovered something rather unusual: ore samples came from a mine in Gabon, a coastal country in central Africa, had a U-235 concentration that is significantly lower than 0.72%.  

Unless someone had been systematically removing U-235 from the mine without disturbing the geological makeup (which was impossible), there was only one explanation behind the anomaly: the original U-235 abundance in the mine was so high that the ores kickstarted a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction that lasted for about 2 billion years. The abundance of certain isotopes of neodymium and ruthenium, which are the fission products of U-235 found in nuclear reactors, also supported this conclusion.

Source: Seeker via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
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