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Oklo, the Two Billion Year Old Nuclear Reactor

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SciShow takes you to a uranium deposit in Africa where, eons ago, a unique set of conditions came together to form the world’s only known natural nuclear reactor. Check it out! No radiation suit required! Hosted by: Hank Green ---------- Like SciShow? Want to help support us, and also get things to put on your walls, cover your torso and hold your liquids? Check out our awesome products over at DFTBA Records: http://dftba.com/scishow Or help support us by subscribing to our page on Subbable: https://subbable.com/scishow ---------- Looking for SciShow elsewhere on the internet? Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/scishow Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/scishow Tumblr: http://scishow.tumblr.com Thanks Tank Tumblr: http://thankstank.tumblr.com Sources:
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Text Comments (2429)
Romuland Meier (2 hours ago)
Actually without the natural nuclear reactions inside the earth, our favorite planet would look like mars today.
Steve Nichols (23 hours ago)
So, in theory, a natural reactor should form somewhere where the perfectly safe conditions are not present and there should be a nuclear explosion (or at least a major release of nuclear material.) Has this occurred?
c0ldw1nd (5 days ago)
The reaction stopping when the water starts to boil is basically a safety feature in almost all modern reactors. It's called negative void coefficient.
Mike Bready (5 days ago)
Well if people believe that randomness and “nature” took particles and magically made life which randomly populated the earth and developed from fungi into humans, I guess this is slightly easier to believe.
Mike Bready (1 day ago)
Terrae nope.
Terrae (1 day ago)
You're underestimating the power of time and randomness.
Peter Diggler (6 days ago)
Should be labeled "Watch an ugly geek talk about Oklo, the Two Billion Year Old Nuclear Reactor". There's nothing here worth watching. There's other vids that actually tell you how it works without the ugly asf geek boi freaking you out.
Delkor (7 days ago)
akupehsluarketatAR (8 days ago)
E.T was trying to lit earth and turn it into a sun
dfctomm (8 days ago)
nature didn't figure it out. If you've ever seen kudzu climb up a telephone pole and cross a road you might think it was smart, but if you have enough time and resources to try every possible combination then you don't need to be smart.
TallWhaleBob Gaming (8 days ago)
If nature figured out to build a nuclear reactor, in 100 years it could probably build a TIME MACHINE or a PARTICLE ACCELERATOR
Wayne Speer (9 days ago)
So was it really natural or signs of a advanced civilization ?
Wayne Speer (6 hours ago)
Terrae hey you never know. If an advanced civilization used this kind of power don't you think it would be in a way that was some how more in a way that joined it in a natural way.
Terrae (1 day ago)
Definitely natural.
Han Solo (10 days ago)
so does it mean that there is probably a car created by nature out there :) ?
Terrae (1 day ago)
Don't be silly... Of course there is!
Kenneth Janczak (11 days ago)
To bad hippie scumbags and green"peas"...... Nuclear is natural..
Terrae (1 day ago)
There is a difference between a diffuse reaction in one part of the globe <ith a loooong time passing by to diminish the byproducts of nuclear fission, and hundreds of nuclear reactor working on very concentrated fissile compounds and making wastes that we don't know what to do with. I'm not so much of a greenpeace militant (not at all i would dare to say), but i like to put things straight. Every energy creation process is polluting, that is something that everyone has to aknowledge. Nuclear, oil, coal, windmills, solarpanels... Every single one has big issues regarding to our environment. Don't diminish it, don't ignore it.
GunFuMaster (12 days ago)
We wuz kangz building nuclear reactors and shieeet
Derek K (13 days ago)
Wait if all uraniums supossed to be realtivly similar whys saskatchewan uranium so pure? Just newer formerd uranium?
Roy Hemion (14 days ago)
And in other news, trees and grass rally everywhere demanding their own country.
Badum Tsss (14 days ago)
So how did they conclude that this was a natural creation?
George Sosinsky (14 days ago)
Eh ......... I think your stretching a good bit on this one. Not saying it couldn't or wouldn't happen. But honestly I think someone just missed read it a little. And as a human always does it needs to explained and rationalize because it just does. Where did the irradiated water go? Please at least answer that for me. I know you read these. What happened to the radiated water? Will not thumbs up or down until answer/consensus has been obtained.
Terrae (1 day ago)
It's a bit hard to answer where exactly it went. Hydrothermal fluids are difficult to track if the don't leave something behind. And maybe that's what happenned with some of the radio-elements contained in the water. It has been deposited somewhere else, at depths we are unable to detect. Also, the process took a very long time, the water was not as irradiated as the one you may find in nuclear reactors. Which means that when it travels a bit, the "pollution" dilute. Even more when it is able to reach the sea.
touristguy87 (15 days ago)
Pretty cool that you hive the forces that created you credit for being better at creating things than you...long before you ever existed, geek
James Simmons (16 days ago)
Are you on drugs or something? Slow it down and stop waving your arms around. Relax. Just speak normally. No need to use an announcer voice and go berserk.
Terrae (1 day ago)
\o_/ \_o/ \o/
Troy H (16 days ago)
Nature figured out how to make a self sustaining fusion reactor before we did and we still don't have one so........
Sophia bartolabac (17 days ago)
*N A T U R E I S A L W A Y S S M A R T E R T H A N Y O U.*
SHERMAN YOUNG (18 days ago)
So is the Earth core a type of reactor?? thanks
Terrae (1 day ago)
Nah, the core is mainly non radioactive metals like iron and nickel.
Rob Trubiano (22 days ago)
Contra? I know that music
bryanspoty (24 days ago)
Is the pyramid a nuclear reactor?
ComboSlicer (24 days ago)
I don't get it why people wear T-shirt under a shirt
Rye J (24 days ago)
some say this powered wakanda
Harley Rider (25 days ago)
Thats what the government is doing and why the earth is on fire. And their going to leave us to burn so they can go on to a new planet to one of these new found earth like planet's
RUSapache (26 days ago)
Each source of uranium (or any other metal) has different amount of metal. It's just fluctuations, you can not know for sure how much you get before trying out.
Martin_ Leong (1 month ago)
soo those guys in africa might have have a legend of the hot cave
Tucsonan Dude (1 month ago)
Maybe, it was the hidden power source for Wakanda?
Ausdeformality (1 month ago)
Chris N (1 month ago)
So we didn't invent it...we rediscovered it?
Robert Miller (1 month ago)
Could a nuclear blast be produced naturally
REDandBLUEandORANGE (1 month ago)
So where would the first neutrons come from
Peter James Ledwith (1 month ago)
How did they know the uranium was missing if they didn't know how much was there in the first place? Why the panic???
Peter James Ledwith (1 day ago)
Terrae I see.
Terrae (1 day ago)
Because you are supposed to find somewhat the same proportions between U238 and U235. In this deposit, there was unusually low amounts of U325.
Willaev (1 month ago)
"The world's only known natural nuclear reactor" This is false. The Earth's core is also a natural nuclear reactor.
Terrae (1 day ago)
Well no. You can't make fission with iron and nickel.
loafers (1 month ago)
Im woke af
pete craig (2 months ago)
kurt lindner (2 months ago)
Even the Earth is in favor of intelligently applied nuclear power.
Ginny Jolly (2 months ago)
BREATHE!!! Your announcing voice is way too quick and needs a second or two length of breaks. Make about 3 breaks to keep from scrambling people's brains! Please!
David Elliott (2 months ago)
"nature created a nuclear reactor before we did"..... Stars are nuclear reactors who arrived billions of years before the earth made one.
Terrae (1 day ago)
Technically, the stars are fusion reactors. :D
Iafiv Iv (1 month ago)
Don't overthink it.This is partially a clickbait site presenting facts in 'funny'(more like lame) ways while giving us a talking head meant to appeal to the youngsters.
TheSoljaOfTime Gaming (2 months ago)
Mind blown
Infinite Rage (2 months ago)
wait, is this nig john green's brother?
Paracelsus (2 months ago)
There is another one of these in France and there is good evidence to suggest members of the fuger dynasty were shown this place and studied it , leading to some of the first understandings of synthesis and nuclear science . The history of Rennes should reveal these little know acts to any who are interested in substantiating it .
Cat22 (2 months ago)
I think you need to talk faster with more gestures
Tim Rohrbach (2 months ago)
Why does this guy look a little like and act a lot like Rachel Maddow?
Brillo Pad (2 months ago)
You forgot to include the role that algae played in moderating the neutron flux.
Kazuyoshi Mishimura (2 months ago)
Now i know how to build a nuclear reactor in my backyard haha
netdog713 (2 months ago)
can you talk faster please
Miluik Powell (2 months ago)
Seem like a lost civilization technology
Wersium (2 months ago)
Nature mocking humans.
notquiteordinary (3 months ago)
So it decomposed, and it does so faster than scientists thought. This bs about a reactor is bs
Joe Rice (3 months ago)
but nuclear reactors are evil things sent by the devil. How could one have been around 2 billion years ago?
Terrae (1 day ago)
The devil likes to wake up early.
Volvirth (3 months ago)
Someone was just bug-testing nuclear fission a few hundred million years back. :)
Ooberham69 (3 months ago)
what about the waste. where did are that radioactive water go?
h8GWBî (2 months ago)
Well, unless you believe in the rediculous woo called "Water Memory", water hardly becomes radioative just because it's cooling a reactor. Maybe you're asking about what happens to any radioactive materials that could possibly by carried away by water?
ZheDong (3 months ago)
uhh.. aliens build that reactor fyi
skillerftwerr (3 months ago)
very cool
Kan CK (3 months ago)
so nuclear reactor is not an invention but a discovery?
EDPS Big ass lips (3 months ago)
Next thing ya know theres gonna be a natural nuclear bomb
Ro Ro (3 months ago)
Ismael (3 months ago)
Just coming back in here after a year or so to say the thumbnail is actually an ancient toilet with nuclear turds
Anarchist from Canada (3 months ago)
They don't use rods of uranium anymore, that was a very long time ago.
Terrae (1 day ago)
Indeed, now they use pellets of uranium that are stacked one upon each other. Like a rod. Uh.
lazyidiotofthemonth (3 months ago)
their ratios are wildly wrong. commercial plants typically use 15-40% U 235/U238 ratios, and military reactors use even higher ratios.
christian anguiano (3 months ago)
It was stolen this is a cover up
KuroTeki (3 months ago)
Breaking: nature has secretly been constructing nuclear bombs and are preparing to fire.
Katie Wahl (3 months ago)
Or, and hear me out on this one: a time traveler got caught in the past and without access to sophisticated tools needed to create this energy source to get home.
Jonathan Vogel (3 months ago)
It would give off a bit of heat if its true and wasnt designed by nature , nature doesnt design .
John Q. Sample (4 months ago)
Dan S (4 months ago)
I got uranium in my cracker jack box once, I got to visit the factory! Yeah!
Actually, it was the preflood generation of people, way back in Noah's day, who were aided by the fallen angels and the nephilims,produced this nuclear reactor for producing preflood nuclear technology or even preflood nuclear weapons for nuclear wars. I totally believe advanced civilization existed before the great deluge. Of course the flood wiped out their advanced sciences and maths leaving nothing behind, but buried deep underneath tens of thousands of feet under the continental shelves.
Jason Swearingen (4 months ago)
A serious question for you. I know I could google this, but... When Hahn and Meitner realized the splitting of the Uranium nucleus, why was Ba found? Ba is an excellent reflector of x-rays. Another thing about U fission I want to know more about, are the seven transuranic elements. But Ba isn't one of them. Any answers or links to publicly released research(peer reviewed please), would be very helpful. An aside, I am really enjoying learning and relearning all knowledge passed on within this medium. Keep up the good work.
Kevin Tanumihardja (4 months ago)
So why restrict or ban nuclear reactors if it's all natural
info addict (4 months ago)
Dude, slow down. You're not a washing machine lol
Lord Shoray (4 months ago)
Da Savage (4 months ago)
It's weird to me that humans say things like " It's cool nature figured it out before we did". Like we're not apart of nature or something.
crazeeavery XVII (4 months ago)
And did you know the head of the nuclear program back then said it was impossible to be natural?
Makemehappy (4 months ago)
So hank had huge promise as a youtuber, no he’s on whatever this is, oh hank
44theshadow (4 months ago)
We wuz accidental kangs.
Stephanus Tavilrond (4 months ago)
dudewow1 (4 months ago)
Wtf this guy ....?
James Richardson (4 months ago)
nice diamond plate shirt
Bhabani Sankar (4 months ago)
nature nuke us beneath the surface is known as earth quake
rasecoaoj (4 months ago)
“We” are nature, dumbass
Mexican pine bleach (4 months ago)
Who needs to power a laundromat forever?
R6 Leagues (4 months ago)
nature has always a step ahead of us so we did find the way after million years
tinkmarshino (5 months ago)
sooo if a nuk falls into the ocean it won't go off? just heat the water... and what about power stations why do that use all of that graphite? well side show this was interesting.. you do a good job of telling the story I do enjoy it.. despite my lack of understanding..
drawingboard82 (5 months ago)
Does anyone know why all known Uranium ore has a concentration of about 0.72% u235? This would imply that all the uranium was made at the same time in the same Supernovea about 6-7 Billion Years ago. Since the Earth is only 4-5 Billion years old, that means that, potentially, the cloud of debris the Earth formed from was hanging around for at least one or two billion years. It strikes me as possible that other, newer Uranium created in other Supernovas should have got in on the act...?
God (5 months ago)
It was made by dinosaurs... Trex did have jobs you know other then just killing n hunting that was a passed time ffs!
Monkey The Guru (5 months ago)
Life has not been around for that long
Ugandan Knuckles (5 months ago)
Earth wasn't even created 2 billion years ago
MrSoothingjazz (5 months ago)
I want to know if there is any evidence that the energy was harnessed
SNBeast (5 months ago)
Wait, how does a fluid made of atoms and molecules slow down individual neutrons?
gobzdzilla (5 months ago)
Crazy, now I'm waiting for eight trillion year old world's only known natural quantum computer.
Terry Pilling (5 months ago)
Interestingly, the Oklo reactor provided evidence that the laws of nature do not change over time. See Maurette, Annu. Rev. Nucl. Sci. vol 26, pg 319 (1976), and Shlyakhter, Nature, vol 264, pg 340 (1976), who showed that the Sumerium ratio Sm149/Sm147 is 0.02 instead of the natural 0.9 which allows us to compute the thermal neutron capture crossection of Sm149 billion years ago. It turns out that the crossection (55 +/- 5 kb) was exactly the same as the current value (55 kb) meaning that the capture resonance hasn't shifted over the past two billion years. This means (via a bit of nuclear physics calculations of ground state binding energies) that the strengths of the nuclear and the coulomb forces have not changed more than a few parts in 10^18 per year. I.e. they are constant. See Dyson, Rev. Mod. Phys, vol 51, no. 3, July 1979, for a discussion of the implications of this for the long term future of the universe. Fun stuff!
Rizing Dragon (5 months ago)
Its amazing how the the brain ignores the first "the" before the second the. Read that again...
Stoßtruppen (6 months ago)
guys i am not saying it was aliens but... it was aliens
Brian M (6 months ago)
2nd question , could something similar ,that went naturally unchecked been responsible for the end of the dinosaurs instead of an asteroid
Terrae (1 day ago)
Nope, asteroid to the face is best way to go extinct "quickly".
Brian M (6 months ago)
yes i have a question.... how the hell did you manage to talk for 4 minutes without breathing once!! :P
Robert Chavez (6 months ago)
Natural reacter my ass
Hellstorm Cerberus (3 months ago)
Robert Chavez reactor*

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