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Earth's Core Made In Miniature 175

ananyo writes "A 3-meter-tall metal sphere full of molten sodium is about to start work modeling the Earth's core. The gigantic dynamo, which has taken researchers ten years to build, 'will generate a self-sustaining electromagnetic field that can be poked, prodded and coaxed for clues about Earth's dynamo, which is generated by the movement of liquid iron in the outer core.'"
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Earth's Core Made In Miniature

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:47AM (#38291332)

    Be cause none of the theories, Magneto Hydro Dynamics (MHD), the Vlasov Equation, etc... are correct. The equations are two complex to solve so they have to make approximations. You need experiment to understand what terms are important and what terms are wrong. Plus a lot of times theorists use rediculus scaling parameters such that these phenomena can never happen in nature.

    In science nobody believes the theory except the theorist and everybody believes the experiment except the experimentalist.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:53AM (#38291396) Homepage
    And this distinction is noteworthy because you can measuring what happens in practice, find where it doesn't meet the theory, and revise your theory. This is how science gets done.
  • by JosKarith ( 757063 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @11:58AM (#38291466)
    Calculations showed powered flight to be possible - why did Orville & Wilbur build the Flyer?
    Why was the first atomic pile built? Why the first moon shot?
    Because we can. Because theory is all well and good, but to actually have the thing in reality confirms (or disproves, usually dramatically) the theory.
  • by athmanb ( 100367 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @12:15PM (#38291690)

    A team of physicists has worked 10 years on this, writing hundreds of pages of papers to coerce funding out of federal institutes but you can spot the flaw in their plans after 30 seconds of thinking and writing an Internet comment?

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @12:36PM (#38291990) Journal
    I believe the physical model will experience gravity in one direction, whereas the simulated model doesn't have to?
  • by clickforfreepizza ( 2465094 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @12:41PM (#38292064)

    I'm sick and tired of this kind of banal and destructive comment. Please read GP again. Is "This cannot work. Case closed." really what you get from it?

    I think GP is trying to understand the experiment. Pointing out issues which are problems according to his current understanding is an excellent first step to learn more.

    Always adding a disclaimer that we are aware that we are no experts would be as superfluous as your answer. Don't you hate it when you teach someone and it goes like this: "Okay, what don't you understand?" - "Well... everything." Pointing out "Here's what doesn't make sense." should be a relatively obvious and welcome form to ask for clarification.

    And even if you do not believe that the poster wants to learn, you could answer him in a constructive manner and thus help others with similar questions. If you cannot or do not want to do that, please ignore him.

  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @12:47PM (#38292158) Journal

    Well powered flight has immediate and obvious useful applications, this thing less so, at least as far as I can see. Powered flight means I can get there faster, or cross rough terrain impossible in other vehicles, etc etc. Giant sphere of super heated liquid salt, not really sure how I can use that. Which is not say that is a reason not build the thing.

    A better analogy would be Orville and Wilbur carving a wooden wing and running around the bike shop with it to feel that it does indeed produce lift when pushed through a fluid like air. Its a required precursor to powered flight, and would more represent this sort of basic research. At some point you have to try things.

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @12:52PM (#38292230)

    Being able to answer that question, and not merely ask it, is why these people get to play with 3-metre balls of molten sodium for a living.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.