Homepage Forums Scientific Method, Skepticism Earth's core: Radioactive heating vs. Tidal heating

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    dash wrote:
    OK, my interpretation of what you claim this fellow said is he has computed the theoretical amount of heat generated by radioactive decay in the crust of the earth. He has evidently put some nice equations together and has some numbers.

    And you come along and accept it as fact without question. Moreover you accept his assertion that the earth must be cooling.

    Dude, it’s just a theory. It may be right. It may be wrong. But it’s not proof. You behave as if it is proof. And you get offensive when other people (such as myself) don’t accept it as fact.


    Both texaslabrat and myself have tried to explain, citing well respected sources, why radioactive heating is dominant on earth and tidal heating is only a minor component. Yet you seem to be disregarding them out of hand. As texaslabrat said, the figures we quoted are based on years of independently verified measurments that fit (to a greater or lesser extent) the theoretical models. Just becuase you think everyone else is wrong doesn’t make you correct. Where is your evidence? What are your sources? Qualitative statements on things like Io and Venus’s volcanism are pretty meaningless. To compare Io with Earth you need a quanitiative approach.

    You say I accept it as fact without question – I did not. My understanding on the basis of years of study as a physicist with more than a passing interest in geology, reading and comparing multiple sources. I cited the book as a well respected source, and one that conveiniently had all the figures to hand.

    Be skeptical when a theory fails to explain measured data, or where it constantly has fudge factors added. But with radioactivity you’re on pretty safe ground.


    texaslabrat wrote: Well, I’m glad you are ok with being wrong…it must come with practice.

    This is funny. You resort to character assassination when you are unable to convince someone of your beliefs.

    You are a shining example of all that is wrong in science today. It doesn’t tolerate alternative viewpoints. It is absolutely certain of its knowledge without even the ability to question its truth.

    I’ve stated already I don’t care what people on this forum think of me. Yet you seem to keep coming back to that. My reputation here is irrelevant. This is a backwater forum with essentially no visitors or traffic. You need to maintain a bit of perspective.

    You are missing an opportunity to comprehend a very deep philosophical truth. And you assert I’m the one incapable of learning. Your assertion that these things are MEASUREMENTS is just your opinion.

    I think you’ve answered what you hope to accomplish. But you didn’t answer this question:

    Specifically why is it so disturbing to you if 100% of all people don’t happen to agree on this one issue?

    Note to jamesr: You yourself have an opportunity for a learning experience. You are clearly a joiner. As a result of this back and forth with texasb you chime in, knowing you have an ally. This is the croud mentality. Be an individual. In the end if you get addicted to joining groups, you invariably must deny your own opinion in order to “belong”. This feeling of belonging can be addictive.

    One more objection to the nuclear decay theory of why the earth’s core is molten: Not so long ago the energy released by this mechanism would have been double what it is today, then the same period before that double again, and double again. For uranium-235 the half life is 704 million years, so taking the earth’s age as 4.5 billion years that’s over 6 doublings. The energy release due to U235 decay 4.5 billion years ago had to be 64 times what it is now. As early as 2.1 billion years ago it would have been 8 times what it is now.

    Yet life as been around for 3.7 billion years. U235 has one of the longer half lifes. Other radioactive material would have even more striking energy releases in ages past. Under your scenario would this amazing amount of heat released even have allowed the earth to cool enough to support life?

    At some point you might come to the understanding that it is all just an educated guess. It’s all just theories. What is understood to be truth today can be recognized as being false tomorrow. The earlier you understand this the more effective you can be, as you’ll then tend to question popular beliefs more.

    Get a copy of Eric’s book The Big Bang Never Happened. Know that Eric is in the minority on this issue. Yet you’re hanging out on his forum, presumably you’re a fan of Focus Fusion. From the mainstream scientific community’s point of view Focus Fusion is a waste of effort and the plasma theory of cosmology is a fantasy. So perhaps I should be asking you: Are you going to be pushing the theory of a flat earth next?

    It’s all just opinion, son.

    ETA: I just love this video:
    It helps put things in perspective.


    I’ve not needed to do any character assassination..I’ve only been pointing out facts. Any perceived character assassination is of your own doing through repeated demonstration of utter ignorance of high-school level physics. We’ve just been handing rope (in hopes you’ll pull yourself in from drowning)…it is you who have decided to use it to strangle yourself.

    Who said anything about U235? You do realize that’s not the only radioactive element in the universe, right? U238 (which is FAR more common) has a half-life of about 4.5 billion years. Potassium 40 has a half life of 1.25 billion years. Thorium 232 has a half life of of 14 billion years. But I suppose you don’t believe in that stuff now that it refutes (yet again) your hypothesis.

    I’m not about to list a play-by-play evolution of the earth’s heat history as fact, because I wasn’t there (though there are a number of models/theories which account for the things we observe today). But we *are* here now..we CAN measure heat flux, we CAN measure the loss of rotational energy of the earth, we CAN measure the distance that the moon is from the earth, and we CAN measure the half-lives of the most abundant naturally occurring radioactive materials.

    But since you “don’t believe in that stuff” when it contradicts any notions you have…of course it’s unimportant. I’d be interested to hear Eric’s take on this since you keep invoking his name. Eric bucks the mainstream when it comes to cosmology, sure (since the big bang theory IS theory since none of us was around to actually witness it)…but he has a VERY firm grasp on modern physics (hence the FF project) and the scientific method which you seem oblivious to.

    Or there’s another compelling theory: You are a troll who disagrees with anything and everything in order to incite a reaction from people. I think that’s actually far more likely than the demonstrated lack of thought you’ve shown thus far. Either way, I feel sorry for anyone who must rely on your critical thinking skills.


    Can you all please move this to a new thread? It is way off from electrodes.


    AvatarPhil’s Dad

    (My apologies for not moving this to another thread as I don’t know how.) :down:

    Dash seems to think the Earth would be too warm if it were heated radioactively in the past.

    It is worth remembering that the Sun was a lot cooler 2Bn years ago.
    Maybe the two balanced each other to some extent.

    Be nice to each other :-S


    dash wrote: One must still take these “proofs” on faith. Don’t you see? They are just theories.
    ….You seem to take it on faith that the majority is right. Fine, that’s your privilege. I’ll stick with my beliefs, and I don’t mind being wrong. In this case it doesn’t matter if I’m wrong.

    “I’ll stick with my beliefs” – Are you saying that it’s “My belief/faith vs. your belief/faith?” Never mind. Tedious question, tedious topic.

    Have you heard the story of how some guy determined the length of the emperor’s nose? He just asked a whole bunch of people how long they thought the emperor’s nose is. Then he averaged the result. And that’s what the length of the emperor’s nose is.

    Well, yeah. It’s a typical “wisdom of crowds” phenomenon. I’ve been flipping through the book “Wisdom of crowds” – which starts off with an anecdote (not proof! So much of the book is anecdotal! Who can believe it? I should be ashamed for even quoting it.) of a crowd of people of varying expertise (general public, plus cow experts) guessing the weight of a cow. The averaged guess proved to be the best one. The writer stresses that it’s important that the people in the crowd are each going with their own belief/knowledge/bias, though, and not just voting what they think the other people will be voting. He makes a distinction between intelligent imitation and herd imitation.

    Suggests that independent thought – often manifesting as delusional mavericking is possibly a necessary inefficiency in our evolution toward collective wisdom.

    But in any case, there is rarely an excuse for ad hominem attacks.

    Granted, the “wisdom of crowds” thesis is irrelevant to meta-skeptics who see randomness everywhere, and reject “truth”. Which sounds like what you “happen to” be doing:

    But in other cases, if I happen to buck the majority and I happen to be right, there can be huge rewards — for me.

    How big was that reward here? This is a shared forum. The reward I got from your posts was the response from the other guys of clarifying their positions, better documenting them. That was useful.

    Your own posts weren’t as clear – I just couldn’t focus anymore.

    It might be a useful exercise to go back over one’s (own) posts once in a while and simply delete ad hominem phrases or unhelpful adjectives. You don’t lose any content. Just attitude. I’m not pointing to anyone specifically here. I myself regret the ad hominem attacks that I have made from time to time.

    Check out the handy “edit” button below your own posts! It’s fun!


    Phil’s Dad wrote: (My apologies for not moving this to another thread as I don’t know how.) :down:

    Dash seems to think the Earth would be too warm if it were heated radioactively in he past.

    It is worth remembering that the Sun was a lot cooler 2Bn years ago.
    Maybe the two balanced each other to some extent.

    Be nice to each other :-S

    You can’t move to another thread, only moderators can. But you seem to have some natural moderation qualities.


    Ah. Finally took the time to read one of your longer posts in this thread. Sorry. Just skimming here.

    Specifically why is it so disturbing to you if 100% of all people don’t happen to agree on this one issue?

    I don’t think it’s disturbing. I agree consensus is not relevant.

    Also think most exchanges in this forum show a robust lack of agreement across many issues.

    Also, I think many folks on this forum understand the philosophical issue of the complexity of pinning down truth and the possibility of fluctuations and convolutions of knowledge.

    But I regret posting to this thread. Not a big fan of philosophical distinctionizing.

    I’m interested in this fusion project because, at the end of the day, “truth” or “theory” notwithstanding, either we’re going to have a measurable source of energy, or we aren’t. If it’s not measurable, if it’s only theoretical, it won’t do me any good.

    And the only way I’ll know I “happened to be” right is if there is a measurable result.

    So, people who, and posts that are “measurement oriented” are a bit more appealing to me at this time. Seem to be sharpening the right tools.

    Just where I’m at.


    Rezwan wrote: “I’ll stick with my beliefs” – Are you saying that it’s “My belief/faith vs. your belief/faith?” Never mind. Tedious question, tedious topic.

    That’s all science really is when the subject is not testable. And if the topic is tedious, why did you post?

    Here are examples of pseudo-science:
    1) Cosmology
    2) Economics
    3) Astrophysics
    4) SETI
    5) Why is the earth’s core molten?

    They’re not subject to experimental verification. Therefore it’s my beliefs VS yours.


    AvatarPhil’s Dad

    Rezwan wrote:

    You can’t move to another thread, only moderators can. But you seem to have some natural moderation qualities.

    I would not presume to such exalted status. :cheese:

    (Thanks for the editing tips here and on the other thread)


    I have always been very open – minded about thinking outside the usual paradign. However, this has nothing to do with mainstream science’s closed – minded arrogance against things like cold fusion at room temperature (simple quantum tunneling explains it).

    But instead, dash keeps arguing about scientific facts that have already been overwhelmingly proven beyond any shadow of doubt. The closed – minded arrogance of dogmatic mainstream scientific thinking is one thing……hypocritically calling absolutely indisputable facts pseudoscience is another. No offense dash, but you are the one preaching pseudoscience here…… like the radical right – wing fundamentalist preachers in the pulpit who stubbornly deny overwhelming evidence of evolution as being a pseudoscience.

    When considering the amount of potassium 40, thorium 232, length of half – lives, and internal volume to mathematical surface ratio of something as volumous as the Earth, it’s quite obvious where most of the thermal energy comes from (radioactive decay ! ! !).

    Although a smaller amount may come from fission as well. Contrary to what some may think, it’s a lot easier for fission to occur in nature than you may think. Natural fission reactors have been found in Africa (although these fizzled – out eons ago). As for light atom moderators which slow – down neutrons, enormous quantities of primordial hydrogen from the Earth’s creation is believed to exist in the molten core. Tremendous pressure keeps the hydrogen dissolved in molten iron like CO2 is dissolved in a soda pop. Only if the pressure is reduced will it bubble and fizz out. I’m not the only one to theorize that the Earth is a fission reactor……many other scientists have also come to this conclusion. However, it is still a very slow and inefficient reactor in which most of the neutrons are absorbed before fission occurs. Therefore, most of the geothermal energy still comes from the decay of common radio – isotopes like uranium, thorium and potassium.


    Some stubborn arguementive types have no scientific method to their irrational reasoning (or lack of reasoning thereof). Everything to them is just ” Your opionion vs. My opinion “. As if there was no such a thing as absolute concrete reality or absolute concrete facts that is subjective to being testable with experimentation or evidence. Believing something in your mind does NOT necessarily make it REAL. That is, unless you are into total escapism and denial of reality. Although I myself detest the closed – minded arrogance of conservatism and much of mainstream science these days, virtually ALL of the scientific disciplines which dash listd as pseudoscience have been proven and backed with enormous incontrovertible EVIDENCE…… not personal opinions.

    Now, if dash had mentioned psychology and psychiatry and pseudoscience quacksalvers like Sigmund Freud, then I would be more inclined to agree. :cheese:


    Not that I’m down on all psychologists as quacks, just most of them. 🙂

    AvatarBrian H

    Fission reactors are not necessary for fission. A radioactive element is one in which the atoms fission spontaneously at a particular rate, measured as “half-life”, meaning the length of time about half of a given sample of atoms will split. They do not have to be bombarded with the stray products (like neutrons) from other fission events. A reactor puts these atoms close together so that the collisions do occur, and then they fission at a much accelerated rate. A chain reaction means that enough are (held and constrained) close enough to cause a runaway series of fissions, an A-bomb. The half-life of an A-bomb is very short, for that reason! So is the whole life.

    But scattered U238 and P239 atoms will decay at their predicted rates, more or less, and release heat wherever they are, and however isolated they are.



    I think there is a combinatiion of both. Tidal and radiative are the way to go.

    When we have no large moons of planets influencing we end up with a run out of radiating heat and the little tidal effect results in a dead dynamo.

    We see this with MARS.

    Io is tidal effected due to Jupiters extreme gravity making it the most active volcanic place in the solar system.

    Planet Earth has a Solid core with a liquid outer core and the moon plays an active part in tidal effect.

    The Stars do not have a dynamo, they have a dynamotor, but thats another story.

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