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Stanford: Earth's core is surprisingly weak

Original post made on May 18, 2013

Stanford University researcher Arianna Gleason and assistant professor Wendy Mao discovered that the Earth's inner core is much weaker than had been previously thought.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, May 18, 2013, 12:07 PM

Comments (12)

Posted by DJ, a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Unless I'm mistaken, scientists still have no definitive answer for the exact composition of the Earth's core, so I can't help but hold reservations for the accuracy of this experiment.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

Of what value is this research? How does the strength of the core relate to more meaningful topics, like shifts in the earth's magnetic fields, or the periodic flipping of the North/South "polarity"?

Is there any long-term value to this work, or just something to do that's interesting to these two?


Posted by Relevant?, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm

So what do the findings of this research mean for humanity?


Posted by Hold on, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Just because you don't see the relevance (or anyone necessarily, at this point) doesn't make this science less valuable. It's more information than we had before. Maybe it come in handy some day, or maybe it's just more we know.


Posted by Engineer, a resident of Downtown North
on May 20, 2013 at 9:18 am

"Of what value is this research?"

That's what they asked Ben Franklin while he was flying his kite. After all, everybody knew that electricity was just a toy and always would be.


Posted by Julian, a resident of Midtown
on May 20, 2013 at 9:36 am

@ Engineer: !!


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on May 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm

> Earth's core is surprisingly weak

A really unscientific term "weak"? What does it mean? Weak in what way ... more plastic, softer, more viscous? Huh? If you are going to bother reporting on this why not have something to say that says something? If it is weak in some way - what does that mean to us?


Posted by concerned, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 20, 2013 at 10:15 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 20, 2013 at 10:29 pm

This is a brief report about a Stanford press release. Who, what, how, why, and a short quote. It's a reminder of how physical science is done and that our neighbors are doing it. Theorists make the educated guesses and experimentalists figure out ways to make the measurement. These comments pose thoughtful questions and should encourage researchers to make their work more accessible. Many federal grants or contracts mandate that a certain small percentage goes to K-12 or public outreach.

I found the press release at Web Link

It's a bit more illuminating and has a link to their recent article in "nature" (full pdf available for a price).

CrescentParkAnon on the right track -- I think it's the shear stress required to cause plastic flow, kind of like yield strength where something bends so far that it won't spring all the way back; in this case where hexagonal close packed iron crystal begins to creep by lattice dislocation. The experiment apparently shows the iron deforms much more easily than expected, putting a new constraint on theoretical models of how the solid part of the earth core evolved.

Maybe it's important, maybe not. In most people's daily lives it doesn't really matter whether the world is round or flat. Traffic is bad regardless.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Ventura
on May 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm

What about that movie "Armageddon"? Is there any research to support the findings from the movie?


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm

@Joe, yes there is! The findings were that Bruckheimer et al could turn a $140 million budget investment into $554 million in worldwide box office receipts.


Posted by Office Decor Robbie , a resident of University South
on May 22, 2013 at 6:11 pm

All I care about is my office decor. It is so lovely. I have the most beautiful interior in all of Palo Alto. Our clients love our decor. As for the core of our planet....it might be weak like our competition.


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