Narrator: This is Science Today. Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have determined that the melting point of iron at the Earth's core is over 87 hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Physicist Jeffrey Nguyen generated conditions similar to that at the core of the Earth by using a two-stage gas gun to launch a projectile at a target that reached a velocity of eight kilometers per second.
Nguyen: People have done similar experiments twenty years ago. What we have done that's different is that we measure really pure iron and that eliminates some of the uncertainties that other people have observed in the past.
Narrator: Understanding the conditions at the Earth's core is key to understanding what drives events like the drifting of continents.
Nguyen: It's very relevant in California because you have earthquakes and that comes from the tectonic shift of the plates and the temperature in the core determines how it interacts with the mantle material and that's what's causing the convection in the mantle and that's driving the tectonic shift.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.