If Herndon's theory is true, it would be the biggest news in geophysics in decades.
"I would rank it right up there with plate tectonics as one of the truly great discoveries," says Hatten Yoder, director emeritus of the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
According to the dominant core theory, the magnetic field is powered by the dynamolike vortices of molten iron and nickel swirling around a solid iron-nickel ball, not as Herndon contends by flows of charged particles surrounding a blazing nuclear reactor.
"He has a fresh new idea, and he has fit it all together extremely well.
Poets say it's a celestial sapphire, a cerulean orb. But the most scientifically precise definition may prove to be the one that no one suspected. Marvin Herndon, is a gigantic natural nuclear power plant.
Astronomers say it's a medium-size planet orbiting an average star. We live on its thick shield, while 4,000 miles below our feet a five-mile-wide ball of uranium burns, churns, and reacts, creating the planet's magnetic field as well as the heat that powers volcanoes and continental-plate movements.
"I would be delighted if there were a raging controversy over this," he says.
"Scientists depend on funding, and they become frightened of anything controversial." "He has a hard time getting attention," adds J.