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New Scientist: Tick tick boom, the Earth spits out a moon - Dr Stuart Clark

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I have the cover story on New Scientist (Issue 2924) this week:

“Did a nuclear time bomb deep inside the young Earth tear the planet apart? The evidence could be staring down at us every night



HUMANITY has witnessed some pretty loud bangs during our short sojourn on Earth. Take Krakatoa. When the Indonesian volcano exploded in 1883, the din was audible 3000 kilometres away, and the ash thrown into the atmosphere cooled the world for decades. Then there are the explosions of our own making. The most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated, the Soviet Tsar bomb of 1961, created a 10-kilometre wide fireball in the atmosphere.

But if Wim van Westrenen, a planetary scientist at the VU University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is right, these cataclysms are nothing compared with an experience Earth went through 4.5 billion years ago. With the paint barely dry on the new planet, a giant nuclear reactor deep in its interior went super-critical. The result was an atomic bomb that dwarfs our puny efforts. Detonating with the force of 11,000 billion Tsars, the explosion was enough to rip our infant world open. ... “

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