Feeds

European boffins on voyage of discovery to the Earth's core

Incredibly powerful laser diamond probe declared ready

High performance access to file storage

Top European scientists say they are ready to commence an exciting voyage of discovery - to plumb the very depths of the Earth's core, and find out the mechanism by which the planet's magnetic poles disappear or reverse themselves. A titanically powerful machine employing nuclear atom-smasher technology, diamond "anvils" and outrageously powerful laser beams has been readied in France at the foothills of the Alps, and was declared officially ready to go yesterday.

Heating of a catalyst sample in an 'in situ' cell at actual operating conditions. Credit: ESRF

Recreating the Earth's core.

Sadly for the purposes of drama the mighty "ID24" is not an atomic mole-cruiser able to plunge beneath the Earth's crust like a submarine diving below the waves, boring its way through solid and then liquid rock using laser cutters and diamond drills carrying a team of adventurous boffins. But it's a pretty impressive piece of kit nonetheless.

ID24 is in fact a new X-ray laser beam line which has been installed at the mighty atom-smasher complex known as the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) at Grenoble. Its fiercely hot laser beams, combined with other technologies such as diamond "anvils" rammed together to concentrate terrific force on tiny areas, can create the same conditions of awesome heat and pressure found at the centre of our planet - or even at the centre of mighty Jupiter.

According to an ESRF statement announcing the debut of ID24 yesterday:

The Earth's interior is literally inaccessible and today it is easier to reach Mars than to visit even the base of the Earth's thin crust ... Thanks to new technologies employed at ID24, scientists can now study what happens at extreme conditions, for example when materials undergo a fast chemical reaction or at what temperature a mineral will melt in the interior of a planet ...

Today, geologists want to understand why the magnetic field changes over time and periodically in Earth's history, has disappeared and reversed.

We know even less about warm dense matter believed to exist in the core of larger planets, for example Jupiter, which should be even hotter and denser. It can be produced in the laboratory using extremely powerful laser shock pulses compressing and heating a sample.

"ID24 opens unchartered territories of scientific exploration," says Harald Reichert, ESRF Director of Research, in tinned quotes supplied as part of the statement. "I wish to congratulate the project team for extraordinary achievements, and I look forward to seeing some extraordinary new science." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.