backtop


Print 68 comment(s) - last by spread.. on Jun 28 at 9:37 AM


Did North Korea really achieve clean fusion?  (Source: Lee Jin-Man/Associated Press)

Inside the reactor core of one of North Korea's nuclear plants  (Source: AP)
Many scientists are discounting that the secretive dictatorship made a true breakthrough

A mystery is emerging on the Korean peninsula.  The nation of North Korea, which has long been suspected of developing nuclear weapons, announced on May 12 that it had achieved clean nuclear fusion and was ready to began rolling out virtually free power.  The claim did not receive that much serious attention because it was simply so unbelievable.

Now the mystery has deepened, with the South Korean government scientists revealing that they detected abnormal levels of radioactive xenon gas -- eight times above the normal background level -- only two days after the fusion announcement.

It seems highly unlikely that the fusion reaction occurred as North Korea claims as fission typically produces large isotopes, while fusion uses small atoms like deuterium (a hydrogen isotope).  Granted, many scientists have theorized that fission can be tied to fusion to create hybrid reactors and such reactors 
would likely be capable of producing heavy isotopes.

Professor David Hinde, who is the department head of nuclear physics at The Australian National University says the release is more likely to have come from a traditional fission device.  He states, "It would have to be man-generated unless one came up with some very unusual alternative scenario. The lifetime of those radioactive xenon isotopes, they're not terribly long. So it could not be anything that came naturally, I would say.  Heavy xenon isotopes could be a signature of a fission device of some kind."

The easiest explanation would be that North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test.  It revealed in 2008 that it has several nuclear weapons stockpiled.  However, such a test would have created seismic activity and South Korean officials detected no corresponding seismic events.

Xenon is colorless, odorless, and largely inert noble gas thats found in minute levels in the atmosphere.  The noble gases xenon and krypton are typically used to detect nuclear activity.  The levels of gas detected by South Korea are a clear marker of nuclear activity, but do not pose a health risk to citizens.

North Korea 
did conduct nuclear weapons tests in 2006, which were detected.  It received international condemnation for these tests and UN sanctions.

For now, though, it's unclear exactly what happened in the mysterious nation of North Korea.  While it's highly unlikely the nation has discovered the holy grail of renewable energy, something that has eluded the best researchers in the U.S. and abroad, at this point there are no definitive answers.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

NK also claims
By masamasa on 6/24/2010 3:47:10 PM , Rating: 2
NK also claims their soccer team is still in the World Cup, they never sunk the SK sub, and the rest of the world is crazy, not them.

Does anybody believe a word of anything that comes published by the NK Communist news team? I think not.




RE: NK also claims
By nafhan on 6/24/2010 3:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget, they also got a satellite into orbit!


RE: NK also claims
By AssBall on 6/24/2010 4:25:58 PM , Rating: 3
And His Excellency Mr. Il invented the internets.


RE: NK also claims
By Ratinator on 6/24/2010 4:26:58 PM , Rating: 3
He also shoots 3-4 hole in ones per round of golf. This guy is amazing.


RE: NK also claims
By masamasa on 6/25/2010 11:02:12 AM , Rating: 2
And...apparently he claims he's hung like a horse!


RE: NK also claims
By Jeffk464 on 6/25/2010 12:43:15 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing North Korea says can be believed. I hope they pulled it off, but it seems unlikely and I sure wouldn't take their word for it.


"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki