Baby Oil and Radioactivity

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Baby Oil and Radioactivity

What you would think would be props on the Howard Stern show: a thousand pounds of baby oil and a stainless steel tank are in fact "props" used instead by scientists to measure the Earth’s radioactivity for the first time. Excerpts from the New York Times article:

The telescope they used was designed to detect subatomic particles from nuclear reactors. The researchers simply pointed it downward, in effect, toward the center of Earth. Physicists and geologists said the measurement, which agrees roughly with geologists' calculations, was the start of a new era of being able to see inside Earth. Their findings, they said, would lead to a better understanding of what keeps the planet warm, volcanoes burbling, continents drifting, magnetic field churning - all things that contribute to enabling life.

The detector, called Kamland - short for Kamioka Liquid-scintillator Anti-Neutrino Detector - was built in 1997 to detect antineutrinos, the antimatter opposites of neutrinos, emitted by Japanese nuclear reactors. Natural nuclear reactions, the decay of uranium and thorium in Earth, also make antineutrinos that Kamland can detect.
Scientists have estimated that about half of Earth's heat comes from radioactive decay, with the rest coming from other gravitational and chemical sources. But the proportions and the total energy outflow are uncertain.

Even though this telescope has no actual connection to Stern, I bet it s just a matter of time before we see something similar on his show. I guess this sort of stunt may be too over the top at the moment so we’ll have to wait until his show moves to Sirius before he attempts such antics.

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