The Earth’s inner core


The Core By Mayank Chhaya

Wolfram is a search engine that offers computed results which are unlike any other search engine. I occasionally use it. Yesterday on a visit to Wolfram my cursor randomly rested on a graphic of the Earth’s inner core. It was one of those serendipitous moments that I have a weakness for. I clicked the image and it produced specific information such as the inner core’s depth, density, pressure and so on. It’s not the sort of data you would know what to do with unless you have a specific interest in the subject. I suppose Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus can get by without knowing about such things is what I am trying to say.

Anyway, the serendipity aspect of my Wolfram visit was that I decided to check out if there was anything new going on in the world of the Earth’s inner core. So I did a Google news search on the subject. To my pleasant surprise, there is a lot that has gone on in this very field in recent months and weeks. Scientists have proposed a radical new model for the make-up of the core. The inner core is about 5000 kilometers or a little over 3100 miles below the surface. Wolfram is very specific by offering the figures between 3190 and 3960 miles.

At the heart of the planet is the inner core, which is essentially a giant ball made up of iron-nickel alloy 760 miles (1,220 kilometers) in diameter. This ball sits, kind of sloshing about, inside a liquid-metal outer layer. The core’s temperature is measured to be 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit (6,000 degrees Celsius), which is how hot the Sun is on its surface. At its core the Sun is incomprehensibly hotter than the Earth, of course.

This information comes from two new recent studies about the inner core published in Nature Geoscience. An extract from one of the studies says, “The centre of the Earth is one of the most inaccessible and enigmatic parts of our planet. The full knowledge of its chemical composition, dynamics, anisotropic properties and hemispherical asymmetry in absolute velocity and attenuation is in the centre of long-standing and ongoing controversy. This almost spherical solid body, with a radius of 1220 km, has been developing since more than one billion years ago, involving the process of crystallization of iron from the liquid outer-core. The present-day growing rate has been computed to be around 0.5 mm/year.”

The inner core, which began solidifying about a billion years ago, is enlarging at the rate of 0.5 millimeter a year. One millimeter is the tenth of a centimeter. One centimeter, in simpler terms, is about the size of a fingernail. So now you do the visualizing. It may seem insignificant but when you consider the size of the iron-nickel ball at the center of our existence, 0.5 mm a year is significant.


An image of how my cursor randomly rested on the graphic of the earth’s inner core

I have long wanted to paint my image of the Earth’s inner core. So I finally did it this morning. (See above). The painting is now for sale at I say this only so that buyers can ignore it like my other works. Nothing has been sold yet. Incidentally, I have priced the painting at $3190 in reference to the depth of the Earth’s inner core. Buy it, don’t buy it, whatever.


About chutiumsulfate

South Asians can infer from my name what I am. View all posts by chutiumsulfate

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