Friday, January 14, 2005

Geothermal energy & gravity

Aside from life-giving radiant heat from the sun, there is heat right under our feet. Geothermal energy moves continents, but we don't really agree on its cause.

What is the source of disagreement about the origins of geothermal energy? Like many problems, I believe it emerges from the "heroic age" of nuclear physics, when radioactivity explained nearly everything.

Basically, the current theory is that radioactive decay in rock provides this energy. The alternate theory (mostly discredited) relies upon leftover formation energy, from billions of years ago.

I believe a much more viable theory, and more testable, is that gravity, and structural resistance to gravity, is the cause of heat in the earth's crust. That would imply that nothing of much import goes on beneath the earth's crust. Which is pretty much what we experience.

Interestingly, the moon is used as a counter-argument to this theory ... why is there no geothermal activity there, if the answer is gravity? Or on Mars, where there was formally geothermal activity?

The same objections could be raised about the radioactive decay theory. But frankly, I don't think we know enough about martian & lunar geology in the context of this question, to use it as a logical counter.

I'm going to try to muddle through to a soultion here. It has caused me some consternation for years.