A worker at a nuclear fuel processing plant in France noticed something suspicious. He had carried out a routine analysis of uranium from a seemingly normal mineral source.
As in the case of all natural uranium, the study material contained three isotopes, that is, three forms with different atomic masses: uranium 238, the most abundant variety; uranium 234, the rarest; and uranium 235, the coveted isotope because it can maintain a nuclear chain reaction.
They came from the Oklo deposit in Gabon (a former French colony in equatorial western Africa), uranium 235 constituted only 0.717 percent. That small difference was enough to alert French scientists that something strange had happened. Further analysis showed that the ore from at least part of the mine was well below the normal amount of uranium 235: about 200 kilograms seemed to have been mined, enough to make half a dozen nuclear bombs.
Scientists from all over the world met in Gabon to explore this phenomenon. They discovered that the site where the uranium was found is a very technical underground nuclear reactor beyond the capabilities of our current scientific knowledge. This nuclear reactor emerged 1,800 million years ago and was in operation for about 500,000 years.
They investigated the uranium mine and the results were made public at a conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The scientists found remnants of fission products and fuel wastes at various locations within the mine area.
It is necessary to understand that, what was so incredible for all, was that a nuclear reaction occurred in such a way that plutonium was created (a by-product) and that the nuclear reaction itself had “moderated”, which has been during long time. Time the “holy grail” of atomic science.
The scientific community considers the mine a “natural” nuclear reactor. They also concluded that the water had moderated the reaction in the same way that modern nuclear reactors use graphite and cadmium rods so that their reactors do not explode.
Just who could have possibly been around over a 2 billion years ago? Or more specifically, able to enrich uranium and create nuclear power? Is man’s history on earth really that old? It seems, according to numerous nuclear specialists, and the compelling evidence they present, that is exactly the case.
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