Nuclear Energy

What is Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear energy is the energy that is found, or stored, within the nucleus of an atom. This is the energy that holds the nucleus of the atoms together. It is also the same energy which is released when the nuclei of multiple atoms are either split or fused (combined). When the nuclei of the atoms in something, for example uranium, begin to split and break apart, thanks to the weak nuclear force, nuclear energy is released which is what causes something, like uranium, to be radioactive. When measuring the radioactivity of something, you can use one of two different systems of units. There is one called the conventional system of units, which uses the Curie, Rad, and Rem, and then there is the international unit "Gray" which is used to measure absorbed radiation dose.
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This is a model of the atoms in Carbon 14 before they experience nuclear decay.
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This is a model of what Carbon 14 turns into, Nitrogen 14, after it experiences nuclear decay.


What is an Application of Nuclear Energy?

One application of nuclear energy is its use in nuclear power plants. In nuclear power plants they split the nuclei of uranium atoms in a process called fission. When the atoms split they release energy, or in this case heat. In nuclear power plants they harness this heat and use it to boil water, which in turn produces steam. This steam is then used to turn turbines. Those turbines start up a generator in the plant, and that is the machine that creates or generates the electricity.
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This is an image which shows what goes on within a nuclear power plant.



Spinthariscope Experiment

The purpose of this experiment was to determine how a Spinthariscope works. To help figure out how it works, it was viewed in the daylight and then it was viewed again after ten minutes in absolute darkness. When it was viewed in the daylight no atom decay was seen, but when it was viewed in the dark after ten minutes little flashes could be seen. Based on this experiment and some research on Spinthariscopes, a conclusion was made on how they work. The Retina of the Human is made up of both Cones and Rods. Cones are color sensitive and help you see in daylight. When you are in the dark though, your Rods takes over and you eyes become over 1,000 times more sensitive to light. It takes about 10-15 minutes for you Rods to kick in and 30 for them to fully kick in. Your Rods are what allow you to be able to see the flashes of energy that the decay atoms are letting off. The atoms inside the Spinthariscope are Thorium atoms. When the Thorium atoms decay, they release Alpha particles that travel at 20,000 mph. When they hit an ZnS target, which is suspended directly above the source, Thorium. When they hit the ZnS target, it releases a photon, a basic light component. That is what produces the flashes which you see through the magnifying lens of the Spinthariscope.
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This is an image of a Spinthariscope.