Oklo Mine at Gabon.
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"Thirteen nuclear reactors existed in "prehistoric" periods along the 200-metre mine bed at Oklo --it was discovered in 1972, and they were comparable to the modern nuclear reactor in power and heat combustion. This mine had the capability of enabling self-sustained nuclear chain reactions". This discovery shocked the entire scientific community back in 1972…….
...Perrin and the other French scientists concluded that the only other uranium samples with similar levels of the isotopes found at Oklo could be found in the used nuclear fuel produced by modern reactors. They found that the percentages of many isotopes at Oklo strongly resembled those in the spent fuel generated by nuclear power plants..
Romans Chapter 1 speaks of the wise men of this world worshipping the created rather than the creator. Science is a big believer in the creative power of “nature” which is a creation of God rather than a creator. So when faced with the desperate need for an explanation for an ancient nuclear power generator, science renewed its faith in created things. It’s difficult to remember this now, but back when the natural explanation was first offered, not everyone was on board.
PRIOR ARTICLES ON THIS TOPIC
Previously on this site we’ve looked at an apparently ancient nuclear power plant at Oklo in Gabon, in four articles. These nuclear reactors were estimated to have produced on the order 0f 1,000 megawatts, comparable to a large modern plant.
The radioactive byproducts of the reaction are still conserved in the area around the reactors leading some to call the reactor “well designed”. Natural uranium is made up primarily of uranium 238 (99%). In order to make this natural uranium fissionable, the 99% uranium 238 must be converted into uranium 235 (enrichment).
There are a variety of ways to do this, however as pointed out in the New York Times of June 21, 1976, all of them require advanced technology.
In 1972, a French analyst named Bougzigues working at the Pierrelatte nuclear fuel processing plant detected a small but significant change in an important ratio between Uranium 235 and Uranium 238. The proper ratio is well known and well established in that field so that the change indicated that something way out of the ordinary was going on.
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The initial suspicion was that someone had included spent fuel in with the recently mined ore. This was quickly ruled out because there was no radiation signature associated with the mystery uranium.
The mystery uranium was eventually traced back to the Gabon mine at Oklo. You need to understand that what was so incredible to all was that a nuclear reaction had occurred such that plutonium was created and that the nuclear reaction itself had been “moderated”, what had been a long term atomic science "holy grail"!
The abilty to moderate the reaction means that once a reaction was initiated, one was able to harness the power output in a controlled manner, including having the ablity to keep it from exploding and releasing all the energy at once.
One thing we think is/was missing from our prior articles on this topic is the scientific panic this discovery caused back in 1972. Once a solution was conceived and settled upon, however, it immediately became the gospel although, again, there are few who remember the objections many scientists initially raised.
These two articles printed in the New York Times in 1972 and 1976, at the very least provide possible reasons to be skeptical of a naturalstic explanation for the phenomena and a way to recall initial scientific resistance.
From the start, the alternatives explanations weren’t very palatable. Aliens? Advanced ancient civilizations? Unknown Russian technology? Who in the world had the technology to build a breeder reactor (creates its own fuel) in the distant past?
One thing was certain, ancient high technology does not fit in with the theory of evolution and the whole- cave man to modern man chronology. Certainly aliens and secret Russian technology were preferable choices for science.
Richard Dawkins is famously quoted as saying that the theory of evolution permitted him to be an “intellectually fulfilled” Atheist. He had a framework for attaching his unbelief. Simlarly, the explanation that French scientists eventually arrived at also spoke of mysterious processes occurring millions or billions of years ago that don’t appear to be occurring today and—-its one that permits physicists and evolutionists alike to be intellectually fulfilled.
And, just like Darwin’s theory, the initial scientific skepticism has been replaced with religious adherence.
As a matter of fact, since the “solution” requires billions of years (and suspension of disbelief) materialists have tried to use the timeframe of over 2 billion years as proof that the earth is not young! So even though Christians may feel that they don’t care whether or not ancient man had nuclear technology the ramification of the materialists alternate theory is that earth is well over 2 billion years old and Oklo is a "proof". (Some creationists have countered by therizing that a natural reaction could have occurred in "recent" times based primarily on changing scientific "constants").
Materialists have also attacked intelligent design theories with Oklo by showing that what they now call a natural phenomenon has elements that indicate “intelligent design”, as described for instance in William Demski’s excellent book “The Design Inference”. What neither side of that argument considers is that the reactors may have in fact been designed!
From the 1976 New York Times article; “Under great secrecy, the investigators drew up and systematically explored a list of possible explanations. One was that the French standard of uranium percentage was wrong.
A group of scientists was sent to the National Bureau of Standards in the United States to make a comparison with the American Standard; it proved to be identical.
Another hypothesis was that nature, in some way, had been able to change the mix of uranium types, or isotopes without the high technology that physicists required. No one could think of a plausible process.
An Outrageous Idea
This left the possibility of theft (someone at the mine had stolen the uranium) or as Mr. Corbet put it “the most outrageous idea of all”—that nature itself depleted the uranium by producing a chain reaction similar to that finally achieved by physicists at the University of Chicago in 1942 after the most sophisticated calculations and preparations.”
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Extrapolating backwards, the French scientists concluded that the ore would have been enriched enough 1.8 billion years ago to spontaneously produce a chain reaction. They further concluded that water had moderated the reaction much like modern reactors use graphite and cadmium rods to keep their reactors from going critical-and exploding.
The 1972 article provides a glimmer of the resistance and implausibility of the natural reactor “explanation:.
“However, specialists in reactor engineering said yesterday that they were puzzled as to how this could have occurred in a deposit with only 3 per cent of fissionable uranium.
As Dr. Seaborg (head of the Atomic Energy Comm.) pointed out, in a reactor burning such fuel “you have to have things exactly right.” Water or some other “moderator” is needed to slow down the neutrons released as each atom is split so that they are not moving too fast for absorption by other atoms, to sustain the chain reaction.
Furthermore, the moderator and the fuel must be extremely pure. Even a few parts per million of contaminant, such as boron, will “poison” the reaction, bringing it to a halt.
How the necessary conditions could arise underground under natural circumstances, said Dr. Seaborg, is “really puzzling”".
"I haven't been able to think of any better explanation," admitted Seaborg, to Time Magazine in 1972.
"There are plenty of explanations I could give you," Caltech Geochemist Donald Burnett also told Time, "but none are less exotic."