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Earth Science

Earth's Core Far Hotter Than Thought 189

hessian writes "New measurements suggest the Earth's inner core is far hotter than prior experiments suggested, putting it at 6,000C — as hot as the Sun's surface. The solid iron core is actually crystalline, surrounded by liquid. But the temperature at which that crystal can form had been a subject of long-running debate. Experiments outlined in Science used X-rays to probe tiny samples of iron at extraordinary pressures to examine how the iron crystals form and melt."
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Earth's Core Far Hotter Than Thought

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  • Oh noes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @10:22AM (#43555777)

    Global warming has reached the core!

  • by ButtonMashingGorilla ( 2880531 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @10:31AM (#43555889)
    Thank goodness I saw this article. I have been planning my trip to the Inner Core, but my unobtanium suit is only rated for 5500C
  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @10:32AM (#43555905)
    I can just see the creationists saying "we always knew hell was down there"!
    • The earth's core is iron. The lake of fire is sulfur, an element formerly called brimstone. There's a difference.
      • Re:Iron vs. sulfur (Score:5, Informative)

        by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @11:07AM (#43556411) Journal

        Since when did Creationists ever let facts get in the way of a good myth?

        • Oh, it's just ironic, isn't it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually the idea of a "solid earth with hot core" is an old catholic church one. The enlightenment idea was that it was hollow.

    • we always knew hell was down there

  • Far hotter? (Score:5, Informative)

    by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @10:42AM (#43556041) Homepage

    I may have misread, but I think this article is saying that 20% hotter is "far" hotter. Not the adjective I would use for 20%.

    • I may have misread, but I think this article is saying that 20% hotter is "far" hotter. Not the adjective I would use for 20%.

      Except that this '20%' is around 1000C to go from 5000C to 6000C. And that's pretty significant.

      I'd say "far hotter" is a reasonable thing here.

      • To me, I would be expecting a significant fraction of an order of magnitude. Of course 1,000 degrees is a lot compared to temperatures that matter to our everyday lives.

      • The new estimate is "plus or minus 500C". Sounds like they had a coarse number (guessing plus or minus one or two thousand) and now they have a slightly more accurate number. Certainly no need for sensationalistic headlines.
      • Well, also going from roughly 80 degrees to roughly 100 (celsius) is a quite significant difference.

      • by Twinbee ( 767046 )
        Maybe you should think more geometrically/logarithmically/exponentially, rather than linearly. 60 is as much an increase over 50 as 6000 is over 5000 in this sense (assuming the kelvin scale).

        In the same way, 1.1 million years estimate is only a little off from 1.0 million years in terms of date estimation, even though 100,000 seems like a "really, really big number" (tm).
    • Not all "20%"'s are created equal. For instance, if the temperature outside increases from 5C to 6C, you probably don't even notice. If it goes from 35C to 42C, you probably are rather unhappy about that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Semantics, yes, but you can't grade "hotness" on either the Fahrenheit or Celsius scales by a percentage; otherwise 1 degree is infinitely "hotter" than 0 degrees!

      To be fair, in Kelvin this is a 19% increase, so the semantic difference seems irrelevant. To put it in perspective, though, a 20% increase from room temperature (25 C or 298 K) would be 85 C (358 K); I'm pretty sure you'd agree that's "far" hotter!

      • How about an anthropic "hotness" unit on a scale from the sea level freezing point of the most abundant compound in the human body (oxidane, freezes at 0 C, triple point a tiny fraction of a kelvin higher) to the normal operating temperature of the human body (37 C)?
    • If we're talking in percentages where's the zero point at?

      • 0 Kelvin. The difference between Celsius and Kelvin at temperatures this high up are fairly low, so I didn't mention it.

    • 20% is "far hotter" for large values of 20%.
  • My planned Journey to the Centre of the Earth has to be put on hold, dammit!
  • hardly "much hotter" (Score:3, Informative)

    by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @10:45AM (#43556101)

    this new model suggests 6000 +/- 500 degrees C, the old model was 6000 +/- 1000 degrees to some sources, but up to 9000 degrees by others,2933,262762,00.html []

    the point is 6000 degrees C has long, long been in the possible range, and the earth's core may well be much hotter

  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @10:49AM (#43556149)

    Big deal. That's like the difference between December and July in the Midwest.

  • Great balls of fire.

    Seriously, though. Science is awesome.

  • I mean People Magazine crowned her "World's Most Beautiful Woman", so she is far hotter than many people thought.

  • this phrase was used by geologist wearing beer goggles...

  • So basically, you heat up a small sample and put it under extreme pressures, and measure the electrical conductivity until it resembles the earth. Of course, there's a massive temperature gradient from the lab-temperature edge of the sample and the superhot center. And maybe the sample's gonna be at different temperatures as well, developing grain boundaries in the sample, and maybe those grain boundaries will serve as circuits around the superhot center of the sample.

    I'm no expert on these things, but e
  • I'm a long way off being a geologist but is it possible that the pressure on the solid core is so great that it becomes some state anagolous to a carbon diamond - but for Iron, hence an Iron Diamond. It's strange to think of the molten Iron around the solid core as a lubricant for the rest of the crust above and the core below it but maybe that's what it takes to apply that pressure and create that state of Iron Diamond.

    I don't know - I'm just putting it out there and it's probably already been thought of,

    • I'm a long way off being a geologist

      ... This is not an important issue, as your question is about crystallography, not geology. I'm not a crystallographer, but I did enough of it (up to reading X-ray diffraction results for mineral identification, and quite a lot of symmetry work, also for mineral identification) to recognise which field your question applies to. (I am a geologist ; card-carrying, along with an uncut diamond. Diamond is a fascinating material and mineral - why do people ruin it by polishi

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky