Boomology – The science behind nuclear explosions (updated with Tsar Bomba!) (updated again!)

The world was changed forever in 1945. The Manhattan project tested the first ever “atomic bombs” and the power that was contained in the nucleus was unleashed. The first ever atomic bomb blast was a test called Trinity, detonated on July 16th in New Mexico, USA.

It was called “The Bomb” and its effects still change the world today. The “nuclear powers” of the world are those nations that have (or are suspected to have) nuclear weapons. Ever since the first military detonation (Hiroshima), the nations of the world have sought to prevent the further spread of this deadly technology. Depending on who you consult, you will get explanations ranging from desire to maintain the nuclear nations’ political power through to altruism to remove the risk by destroying all nuclear weapons. The total nuclear arsenal of all nations is more than enough to destroy all life on earth many times over. Despite this danger, some argue that the nuclear bomb technology has been the greatest force for peace in modern history; that without it many more conventional (non-nuclear) wars would have been fought, or that World War two may have continued for many more years, resulting in even more loss of life.

As we know from the last unit of study, it is not the explosion that is the most critical damage that is done by a nuclear bomb, even though that is nothing to be scoffed at, but it is the aftereffects. Fallout is a harmless sounding word that conceals the true horror of atomic weapons – the fact that even after the explosion, the very land, air and water are poisoned; uninhabitable for many thousands of years due to the radioactive materials spread by the explosion. Fortunately, the only two bombs ever used in was were so small that the fallout effects were very minor, and have almost completely dissipated now.

But the potential of the nuclear science is far more than just weapons – nuclear power is a power source of almost unlimited potential for the whole human race. Nuclear power is “carbon neutral”, meaning that it does not directly produce any carbon dioxide in the process of generating energy, Energy dense, meaning that a small amount of fuel can release a large amount of energy, and produces base-load power, which means it is suitable for providing energy for large cities (unlike renewable power sources such as solar, wind and tidal power which can produce power in an intermittent way which makes it unreliable for mass usage).

But for all it’s advantages, Nuclear Power is not currently used to produce power for Australia (in fact, only France uses nuclear power to provide a majority of it’s power needs). This is primarily because of two reasons – fear of catastrophic failure (“Meltdown” – what happened in Chernobyl) and concerns over waste disposal. We will deal with these in more detail over this unit (and in the next post!).

But how does it actually happen? What happens inside a nuclear reactor or nuclear bomb that releases so much energy? Well, it is all about a certain famous formula:

What does this equation mean? Well for a start it is presented incorrectly in most circumstances – it is actually:

ΔE=Δmc²

This shows you that this equation is all about the change in (that’s what the Δ (delta) symbol means) energy and mass. The first application is obvious – that when mass is destroyed, a large amount of energy is released (equal to the mass times the speed of light squared). The second application is less obvious – that energy itself has mass. When an object gains energy – for example by heating up (gaining heating energy) or moving fast (kinetic energy) – it also gains mass. The amount of mass is miniscule in most common situations.

The second aspect is even stranger – that if you weigh nucleons separately that weigh more than when they are put together. This difference is called a mass deficit and the missing energy is converted into energy. This energy varies with the number of nucleons, and demonstrates the difference between fission and fusion.

This process is explained in the supplementary notes and here is some more reading to help you understand this complex topic (1,2). I also encourage you all to read the furry elephant explanation – make sure you check out all the animations!

And last of all – here are some excellent videos to help you see what we are talking about. This is the first one:

Remember – you will only get out of physics what you put in! So comment!

See you in class!

UPDATE:

The biggest nuclear bomb ever detonated was the Tsar Bomba (Russian for “The Emperor Bomb”). Just in case you wanted to see what it looked like: Detonation (Go on, you know you want to…)

UPDATE 2:

The Top 10 List of Famous Deaths by Radiation: Listverse

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59 Comments on “Boomology – The science behind nuclear explosions (updated with Tsar Bomba!) (updated again!)”

  1. Kane L Says:

    Final comment for the night, Can you please define what potential energy is? i understand why they repel due to their charge and how they are held by strong energy which hold them together in the nucleus, but i have no idea what potential energy is or does, please help.

    Thank you

  2. CyberChalky Says:

    Potential energy is energy in a system that is stored; it is not currently being expressed as motion, heat or other forms of energy that are readily detectable.

    It is “energy waiting to happen”. See if any of these definitions help:
    http://tinyurl.com/definepe

    • Loughlin Says:

      Hey sir, some really interesting stuff in this post. The furry elephant demonstrations were interesting as it gave me a good idea about what potential energy actually is- the example of the gravitational potential energy of an object off the ground is a good one that helped me a lot, Kane.

      Two quick questions, is anyone else having difficulty downloading or accessing the first “further reading” link?

      And in the supplementary notes, the second question is asking for the Mass Difference in Lithium-7. I’ve calculated the combined mass of the individual particles as [3(1.672623)+4(1.674929)]*10^-27, which gets me 11.717585*10^-27 kg.

      However, calculating the mass difference should be as simple as subtracting the bound mass from the free mass. However, the bound mass is listed as being (m = 7.016004 u), and I was wondering what the pronumeral u was in this equation. I thought it would stand for *10^-27, but I thought I’d better check with you first.

      Can you give us a guideline for when would be a good time to have these questions and the physical textbook questions completed?

      • CyberChalky Says:

        I just tested the link – it works for me. If anyone else is having trouble, I’ll repost that link.

        u is the unit symbol of atomic mass unit.
        1 atomic mass unit = 1.66053886 × 10^(-27) kilograms

        We will be having a test that covers the first unit and detailed study in week 5 (not next week, but the following). It would be a good idea to have completed all questions by the end of week 4 so that if you have any problems you can ask for help.

      • Kane L Says:

        so getting the mass defect of lithium is =
        11.717585*10^-27

        7.016004 (1.66053886 × 10^-27)
        i got= 6.72377*10^-29… but that can’t be right, can someone help shed some light?

        Oh, and the link works for me locky.

      • Deepti Says:

        where is further reading link??…..I can’t find that. Is it the supplementary notes?

  3. rickychoeun Says:

    After i Watched the video i was like i understand abit and when i finished reading lockies coment i got lost again o.0

  4. gayatribabber Says:

    hello sir
    this website is really good i understand every concept of it, i got binding energy that it is amount of energy to completly seprate the protones and neutrones colectevely called neoleaons. and i understand the formula ΔE=Δmc² and all the things that is there and the vedio is really good.

  5. Jesse Says:

    To Mr. G
    About the nuclear chain reactions, if a neutron hits the first Uranium 235 atom & around 1-4 neutrons are released, does the whole reaction stop if all the neutrons hit Uranium 238 instead of Uranium 235s?

    • CyberChalky Says:

      Hi Jesse,

      The question to ask in this case is “how do neutrons hit nuclei”. It is not sufficient that they merely strike the nucleus, they must be absorbed and retained. When a neutron “hits” a nucleus, there are four possibilities:
      1) It “bounces” off, not becoming part of the nucleus
      2) It is “absorbed” and nothing happens to the nucleus (i.e it forms a new stable isotope with A+1 nucleons)
      3) It is “absorbed” and initiates a metastable state pending fission.
      4) It is “absorbed” and initiates a metastable state pending decay.

      It is this fourth option that is most common when U238 absorbs a neutron – it quickly decays into plutonium, which itself, when absorbing a second neutron can then fission. (Link)

  6. Loughlin Says:

    Hey sir, I’m doing the work on Nuclear Fission in the notes you’ve constructed, and I’m having a little bit of trouble of working out which reaction would produce the greatest amount of energy.

    It appears to me, that all fission fragments end up equalling the mass number of Uranium 235 (minus neutrons emitted during fission)

    Would this mean, then, all partner fragments have an equal total mass defect, which would mean all fission pairs would produce the same amount of energy?

    • CyberChalky Says:

      Hi Loughlin,

      I think you need to recheck your calculations; energy from the average neutron fission is about 200 MeV, but different reactions produce different amounts depending on which fission fragments are generated. (link)

  7. Loughlin Turpin Says:

    Nuclear Power is NOT dangerous when compared to more conventional (e.g Fossil Fuel) power plants.

    There have been two complete meltdowns at civilian nuclear power plants in the entire history of nuclear power. Both of these happened over 23 years ago, and as a result of these devastating accidents, training to operate a nuclear power plant has been improved and simplified. The core structure and analytical equipment have also have significant improvements, most modern nuclear power plants having the capability to withstand 9/11 type attacks.

    The fear people have of being irradiated as a result of having a nuclear power plant in their background have no solid grounds in scientific fact and analysis. There is no compelling evidence to suggest nuclear power plants give off nearly enough radiation to have detrimental effects to the wider community.

    This is in contrast to fossil fuel power plants, which DO explode, both in Western and other nations, with catastrophic results. In addition to this, it is predicted that the airborne pollutants released from fossil fuel plants cause 70 deaths a year in the form of lung cancer.

    People are afraid of nuclear power plants because of the Chernobyl incident, but that was caused by a stupid accident that has greatly increased the status quo for training nuclear power plant operators.
    Fears the uneducated have of the reactor core becoming a “Nuclear Bomb” has no real basis in scientific theory either. If a structural malfunction does occur, sure, the countryside will be showered in highly toxic radioactive debris, not to mention an explosion, which would occur in a regular plant malfunction anyway.
    But, an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction- the unregulated fission that is the principle behind atom bombs, could not occur because the fuel rods- the radioactive source of energy, is not pure enough to sustain this type of reaction.

    In conclusion, Nuclear Power appears dangerous because people are not fully informed of the scientific principles behind it, and as a result of sensationalist media and high-profile nuclear disasters. Statistically however, they are safer both in human exposure to pollutants and likelihood to malfunction, causing mass injury.

    (Good luck everyone else!)

    • Nick Says:

      Wow, Thats Very Good.
      Very Convincing, But How Can A Nucleur Power Plant Withstand A 9/11 Attack, Wouldn’t It Kind Of Blow Up ? Like, I Dont Understand How Something That Critical Can Just Be Like, “Oh, Theres Another Terrorist (edited by CyberChalky) Trying To Blow Us Up, Maybe Next Time” (No Offence) But, I Dont Know How Thats Possible, Other Then That, Really Good :)

    • LAri.KAy Says:

      Oh WOW. You’ve made a really good point. Didn’t Mr. G say that the Nuclear Power plants they use now are much more advanced (and safer!)too? I know about the lung cancer thing, but I’ve never actually heard of a coal-plant explode. Should perhaps look it up.
      A+ for the coherent and effective response, Locky!
      =]

    • Patrick Says:

      wow, very nice locky, i never knew that people feared that a nuclear power plant could actually turn into a nuclear bomb, although to be fair, i would’ve have believed such a thing if i didn’t decide to do physics. which pretty is your argument, that people assume without knowing the complete facts.

      awesome job man !

  8. LAri.KAy Says:

    Much of what we do to live depends on an adequate supply of energy. Without energy, we wouldn’t be able to cook our food, store our food in the refrigerator, watch television, play video-games or visit Mr. G’s useful blog. Communication and long-distance travel would become almost impossible, and industry would not be able to produce what is needed for our benefit.

    The most common sources of the energy we use are fossil fuels, which include coal, natural gas and oils. Since the world’s commercial output and population has greatly increased, as did energy consumption, we have made a major shift towards hydroelectricity and nuclear power.

    Nuclear power plants can produce more energy than coal or oil-based power plants, which is a benefit to the wider community and means that the resources will last much longer. Nuclear power uses Uranium-235 as fuel, which is a common radioactive element. One tonne of Uranium produces more energy than several million tonnes of coal or oil. A large plant generates about one million kilowatts of energy because it is designed to operate continuously for long periods of time. On the other-hand, a 1,000 MW coal plant may average 750 MW of production over the course of a year because the plant will shut down for maintenance from time-to-time and the plant operates at less than its rated capability.

    Can nuclear power provide the energy we need? It already generates about 20% of the world’s electricity, including 50% in Western Europe and 80% in France. It is reliable, having high “load factors” – typically more than 90% – with nearly all of the remaining time spent on planned maintenance, and therefore produces more energy for us to use!!

    =] Lari

  9. Kane L Says:

    Nuclear power IS cleaner when compared to other power plants.

    Nuclear power plants have always provided a lot of environmental benefits. Mostly, nuclear power makes no contribution to global warming through the emission of carbon dioxide. Coal and oil plants can produce from half a ton to a ton of carbon dioxide emission per MW (Megawatt) – which is about enough to power 1000 homes for an hour – where nuclear power produces 0 carbon emissions which can help reduce global warming by removing greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear power only produces 0.006 pounds/ 0.003kg of solid/toxic waste per MW.

    America’s nuclear energy plants reduce electric utility emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 percent, or 128 trillion tons per year. In France Nuclear power plants have reduced sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide by ~65%.

    Fuel consumption is majorly decreased as Oil and coal plants require up to 2 and a half million tons of fuel a year, where nuclear power only requires 30 tonnes, which helps reduce the area of destroyed land required for mining for coal and drilling for oil.

    Nuclear power can also help reduce water wastage by using the cooling towers to return the used steam back into reusable water. This allows a lot more water to be kept for later use instead of having to use more and more water all the time.

    • Dejan Says:

      Very good point Kane nuclear power is (if it is safely contained) the way of the future when it comes to making the whole world ‘green’ reducing greenhouse gases and minimising waste

      Good stuff! :)

    • Deepti Says:

      Well, this was really good expaination but as the nuclear power reduce water wastage it also make water dirty, as nuclear power is toxic it is harmful for living beings.

  10. TuanAnh Says:

    are we ment to do that comment thing here, the one due on sunday?

  11. Said Mosavi 420 Says:

    Lady’s and gents the question is “Is nuclear Power dangerous for your heath?

    The study supports the belief that children living near nuclear power plants in Germany develop cancer and leukaemia more regularly which is 10 percent higher than those living farther away.

    The main risks linked with nuclear power occur from health effects of radiation. This radiation consists of subatomic particles travelling at or near the speed of light per second. They can penetrate deep inside the human body where they can damage biological cells and in this manner initiate a cancer.

    If radiation strikes sex cells, they can cause genetic diseases in progeny.

    Problem about nuclear power is radioactive waste.
    Radioactive waste is dangerous up to five thundered thousand years if stand three feet away during 10 second it will kill you, you will go through radiation illness for 2 weeks before DEATH.

    Radiation risks for workers.
    In nuclear power filing, the workers are exposed to alpha defect, a dangerous form of radiation that if breathed in or ingested is a cancer risk or initiating cancer. The amount of the calculations, done last month, “were conservatively interpreted as a potential indication that an action level for inhalation of airborne radioactivity may have been exceeded.

  12. Dejan Says:

    Nuclear Power IS a carcinogen as it has been proven to cause cancer through the ionisation of the cells in the body and through other ways

    The incubation of cancer after exposure can be from 5-50 years. Children, the elderly and immuno-compromised individuals are more sensitive to the malignant effects

    Many different radioactive substances can effectively cause cancer such as:

    The noble gases Krypton, Xenon and Argon which are fat soluble (mainly thigh and abdominal) and release gamma radiation once absorbed there which can mutate the genes in sperm and eggs

    Tritium which is basically radioactive water, absorbed through the skin and lungs, its then incorporated into the DNA where it’s a mutagen causing cancer through the corruption of cells.

    Iodine 131 – Gets into leafy vegetable and milk and when consumed goes to the lung and gut then migrates the thyroid gland. 2000 Belarusian children had thyroids removed post-Chernobyl.

    Strontium 90 – Absorbed in the bone and human breast during lactation causing breast cancer, bone cancer and leukaemia

    Cesium 137 – Absorbed in meat and when consumed locates muscle where it can induce a malignant muscle cancer called sarcoma

    Plutonium – Plutonium is handled like iron in the body so is stored in the liver causing liver cancer and bone cancer, if inhaled can cause lung cancer, also has a predisposition for testicles causing testicular cancer

    There is no doubt about nuclear power as a carcinogen, many people have died due to exposure, ironically nuclear power has the power also to diagnose and get rid of cancer.

    • Ellen L Says:

      Well Dejan I’M impressed :) Very good information. I liked how you described the effects of Iodine 131 I didnt know that it could get into vegetables and milk and cause cancer. Wow, scary.
      Good job

    • Arvin Says:

      yo great information.
      I didn’t know that iodine-131, strontium-90, caesium-137 and plutonium can cause humans cancer.
      Espeically what caesium-137 can do to you ‘Absorbed in meat and when consumed locates muscle where it can induce a malignant muscle cancer called sarcoma’
      i learnt a lot reading this.
      good job

    • Patrick Says:

      What an awesome post! :D
      i love the facts about the different radioactive isotopes, and what they do to different parts of our bodies….pretty freaky stuff. very nice job post though, very informative. :)

    • Jesse Says:

      Well you have a strong case about how nuclear by-products will cause cancer but what doesn’t seem clear is how much radioactive material can be found in these commodities & how much would it take for you to be killed from how much radiation there is as opposed to how much you are consuming. There doesnt seem like there would be alot of radiation in most everyday items unless you work in a nuclear power plant or a hospital.

      • Loughlin Says:

        Hey Dejan, really interesting post. One question I do have, relating to Jesse’s question, is how these fission fragments are absorbed into our food products when they should be safely stored in radioactive material containment facilities. What kind of path is it from the nuclear reactor, to the animal, to our mouths?

        You did have lots of strong points as to why radioactive containment is so important- Nuclear Power CAN be considered green because it emits no greenhouse gases, but you cannot really read this entry and say that there is no environmental impact, that it is not toxic in some definitions of the word.

    • Kane L Says:

      Sick, i didn’t know that testicular cancer was so common… Thanks for scaring me :D

  13. Said Mosavi 420 Says:

    My argument against Kane’s decision

    I favor ‘concentrating solar power’ (CSP), the system of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to generate heat, it is safe and clean, and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is probable to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation will carry on through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and half a million Californians currently get their electricity from this foundation. CSP plants are now being intended or built in many parts of the world.

    Why can’t we use (CSP) when it is a protected way of producing energy then to using nuclear power plants when they can be seriously dangerous if a single mistake occurs it will cause a enormous damage to our environment.
    That’s what I call GREEN energy so I fundamentally favor solar power since it is:

    1.Clean
    2.Using the sun to produce energy
    3.absoloutly safe

    • Loughlin Says:

      That seems really interesting; is it commercially viable? That is, could we support the costs to buy the land and build enough of these to provide for everybody? And even with these thermal storage points to provide heat when there are none of the sun’s rays, is this reliable enough for an entire nation to depend on?

  14. Patrick Says:

    As Dejan previously mentioned, radiation causes cancer, and but yet it also cures cancer. In a way radiation pretty much cancels out its own negatives with a positive, but the question that must be asked is how valuable radiation REALLY is. Well one tiny fact is, radiation is used up to 50-60% of the time in the treatment of cancers, there are even specific cases in which radiation is the ONLY treatment that doctors are able to use, cases such as prostate cancer ( which, might i add to all the males reading this, is the MAIN cancer that most males contract, it is also why, once day in the future, we must go to the doctors and have them stick their hands up our…..bums).

    However, radiation doesn’t just cure cancer, it is used extensively in the medical field some examples are; before surgery, some patients are treated with radiation as so their surgery isn’t as severe, an example of this would be if a woman were to go through breast surgery she would be able to keep her breast if she were treated with radiation beforehand. Radiation is also used for diagnostics, things such as x-rays, pet scans and ct scans, all these diagnostics techniques are forms of radiation, and yet without them, a lot more people would die of things that could be easily prevented.

    We would also not know as much brain tumours and cancers, the field of neuro- medicine would be set back quite a fair bit.

    As Loughlin argued, there have only been two serious events in which radiation has been put into a bad light, but if people took the time to actually make it a habit of informing themselves they would see that these events only happened due to human error, and human stupidity. They would also see that radiation can be used for good, such as saving lives, which pretty much negates the past two events, in terms of lives lost, as more lives have been saved due to radiation.

    It was also in these two events, that MASSIVE amounts of radiation were released, given these amounts; any fool could see that it would be dire consequences, however, to much of ANYTHING can be harmful to us, for example doctors say 2-4 litres of water is good for us, so, by all “logical” thoughts, more than this amount would surely be really good for us? Well that’s just wrong. Too much water can cause an imbalance in our bodies, making our cells swell up, even our brain cells, which results in either 1 of 3 things brain damage, coma, or death.

    So in small amounts, radiation is already a huge contributing factor in the medical field, and seeing as science and medicine are growing ever constantly, we could see more contribution’s and positive application’s for radiation.

  15. Deepti Says:

    My arguments for “Nuclear power is Toxic”
    Firstly what is nuclear power?
    The energy produced by splitting atoms in a nuclear reactor.
    Now:
    Nuclear power is poisonous:
    In state union address President Obama said: “But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.”

    Nuclear power plants can never be clean or safe as long as radioactive material is mined and processed and waste is generated. Even some members of Congress with good environmental records are jumping on the nuclear bandwagon under the rationale that it doesn’t emit greenhouse gasses and we have to compromise somewhere.

    Nuclear power generates CO2 emissions during mining, milling, conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication stages. As concentration of uranium in the ores that are mined diminishes, the CO2 emissions from nuclear power will continue to rise. Substituting nukes for coal plants as opposed to true clean energy sources will greatly accelerate that process. People, corporations and even some environmental groups want to ignore the carbon emitted from nukes because to do otherwise makes the challenge of reducing carbon harder. Ignoring the facts, however, fixes nothing.

    Water, water you need and use, is degraded and poisoned by the fuel cycle for a nuclear power plant. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists water is used to absorb wasted energy which is generated as heat. For every three units of energy produced by the reactor core of a U.S. nuclear power plant, two units are discharged to the environment as waste heat. The impacts on the bodies of water next to which most plants are located is considerable.

    http://www.downtheyellowcakeroad.org/userfiles/image/CO2_EmsnsPieChart_800X679.png

    Nuclear energy is not a reasonable, medium term, pragmatic compromise to reduce greenhouse gases. It’s a dangerous, flawed technology propped up by subsidies and a distorted view of the costs and impacts. It cannot reasonably be considered as anyone’s idea of clean and safe energy.

  16. Arbin choi Says:

    Nuclear power is expensive but at some points can be cheap as well.

    At first it cost too much just to build the nuclear power plant itself and the constructing time for it to complete takes a long time. The cost of nuclear power plants can be as much as 1 billion to 13 billion USD. It was said that new plants or new designs is promised to be simpler, cheaper and quicker to build but proves to be the opposite. An example notable to this would be the plant constructed by the French state-owned company Areva at Olkiluoto, Finland, which has doubled in costs and construction time.

    Areva (French-state Company) estimates that building the same 1.6 gigawatt reactor would cost up to $AU9billion, but in America it is estimated that in Georgia, building two 1.1 gigawatt reactors would cost up to US$10.4-$11.9 billion.

    The fuel costs for nuclear plants are a slight quantity of total generating costs but capital costs are better than those for gas-fired plants and much better than those for coal-fired plants. Disposal of wastes produced would cost a lot of money. Nuclear power cost would compete with other forms of electricity generation, except when fossil fuels are in low-cost.

    Over the past years there has been a price increase of new generation nuclear power plants at about $5-12billion a plant. Fossil fuels are getting more expensive too and the increase in the cost might somewhat be explained by high demands from Asia.

    The use of nuclear power can be expensive but the cost can be similar to fossil fuels. It can be cheaper depends on how far you have to transport it or if you have it nearby. For example in Saudi Arabia it is going to be cheaper to use oil because that oil is already in the country. But in Europe nuclear has a price advantage due to the fact that most oil and gas has to be imported.

    Also the amount of energy needed to generate the reaction would cost quite a lot of money. It would cost a lot of money due to the fact you that the nuclear power plant needs nuclear reactor technology.
    It’s expensive to keep the reaction from going out of control (i.e. if the nuclear power plant generates energy and fails; then they would need expensive technology such as moderators to stop it from happening.)
    (Moderators are used to reduce the speed of fast neutrons turning them into thermal neutrons which is capable of sustaining a nuclear chain reaction involving uranium-235.)

    The cost of nuclear reactors is not cheap and they will cost 2 or 3 times more than renewable and efficiency technologies.

  17. Ellen L Says:

    A BENEFIT OF NUCLEAR POWER- An alternative to fossil fuel.

    Nuclear power is a good alternative to fossil fuel.

    Firstly, the cost of generating electricity using nuclear energy is economically cheaper than producing energy from fossil fuels such as coal.

    Secondly, nuclear power does not have the potential to cause climate change as nuclear power plants do not emit carbon-dioxide, the gas believed to contribute to the greenhouse effect which causes global warming, into the atmosphere. On the contrary, coal-fired power plants release approximately 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year.

    Also, unlike fossil-fuelled power plants, which emit dust and gases like sodium dioxide and nitrogen oxide, the by-products of a nuclear power plant that is released in to the air such are far less polluting and damaging to the atmosphere.

    Furthermore, coal power plants require 100 tons of coal daily where as the radioactive substance material used in nuclear power plants only need to be refuelled every 12 to 18 months and only 2 tons of uranium is needed each time.

    The process of coal-mining is far more dangerous than mining uranium. Coal-miners are expected to remove mountain tops so they can extract the coal beneath. This is not only dangerous but also environmentally catastrophic and damaging. Also, only small amounts of uranium are needed to be mined in order to generate nuclear energy.

    Last of all, the volume of nuclear waste produced is much smaller than that of fossil fuel power stations and although the waste is radioactive, the small amount is able to be isolated safely from society.

    In conclusion, nuclear power IS a good alternative to fossil fuel as it is more economically and environmentally friendly and safe. At present, one-sixth of electricity used world-wide is supplied from nuclear power.

    • TuanAnh Says:

      Nice,
      i see that coal power= bad
      Nuclear power= good

      but isn’t finding coal is the same as finding uranium? where you still would expect uraniumn miner to move moutain tops as well etc.

      anyways nicely done.

      • Ellen L Says:

        The answer to your question Tuan Anh, is that as stated above, coal power plants need a new supply of 100 tons of coal daily,whereas nuclear power plants only require 2 tons of the substance uranium once every 12 to 18 months. As the demand of coal is higher than uranium, this means more supplies of coal is needed, which results in coal being mined more than uranium. Which means miners are more frequently exposed to the dangers of mining coal than uranium.
        Therefore, uranium mining is better than coal mining and nuclear power is a good alternative than fossil fuels :)

  18. Jesse Says:

    The pollution that comes from nuclear power plants is usually nuclear waste or used nuclear fuel. Nuclear waste is always extremely radioactive & must be shielded from the environment. To store nuclear waste is a tough process as the waste has to be cooled & shielded.

    The nuclear waste is estimated to take about 1000 years to reach the same level of radioactivity that it had as Uranium & about 5 million years to lose all its significant radiation. There are many methods to get rid of Nuclear Waste but in the long term cases the nuclear waste still exists in the environment.

    One method is to store the waste in canisters underground, while vitrification (fusing the waste into glass blocks is also being used). Australian scientists have created an artificial rock called Synroc which can stand high temperatures & water. The main concern about Synroc is can it last for as long as there is radioactive nuclear waste?

    Some countries have chosen to store nuclear waste underwater which is bad because this could lead to some nuclear waste escaping & harming the world’s oceans. The metal canisters used to store nuclear waste would probably erode after a certain amount of time & let the radioactive materials back into the environment.

    To truly get rid of nuclear waste is not easy & most if not all the ways to get rid of nuclear waste have some sort of drawback (amount of time, environmental issues etc..) but if certain ways can be found to get rid of the pollution that can side step these obstacles then maybe Nuclear power could be the way to go after all.

  19. TuanAnh Says:

    Why was Jervis bay nuclear power plant closed down?

    Jervis bay nuclear power plant was never closed down,instead it was never built, it would of have been the first nuclear power in Australia but it was only a proposal.

    In 1969 the Australian government proposed to the New South Wales government that a 500 MWe (Mega Walts electrical) nuclear power station should be built on Jervis Bay.

    In December 1969 invitations to express interest in the construction of a nuclear power plant at Jervis Bay were sent to fourteen organisations. Tender documents were issued the following February, with tenders closing the following June. Fourteen tenders were received from seven different organisations. About 70 staff were involved full time in evaluating tenders and more than 150 staff worked part time role.

    the result was that a recommendation was written for the acceptance of the tender to supply a 600 MWe Steam Generating Heavy Water Reactor.

    but befroe the recommadation was made, there was a change in prime minister,John Gorton was a supporter of the project, but he was out voted by William McMahon who didn’t support the project as Prime Minister by William McMahon.

    The jervis bay nuclear power station have been seriouly considered in 2007 but still was never built.

  20. RatanaP Says:

    Hello People.
    This Will Be My Topic For Today:
    Nuclear Power Is Non-Toxic ..

    Most People Know That Nuclear Power Is Toxic, But I’m Here To Talk To You About How Nuclear Power Can Be Non-Toxic
    First Of All, What Is Nuclear Power ?
    Like Deepti Said,”The Energy Produced By Splitting Atoms In a Nuclear Reactor”

    Anyway, i Should Keep Going Because You Guys Probably Already Knew That.

    How Nuclear Power Can Be Non-Toxic:
    Nuclear Power Can Never be Non-Toxic, Due To The Fact That It Is Toxic And Harmful To The Society And Effecting Life On Earth. The Only way That Nuclear Power Can Be Non-Toxic, Is When All Of it Is Gone And We Start Using Natural Resources, Example; Solar Power And Wind Power Can Produce Green Electricity, Instead Of Using Fossil Fuels And Coal To Produce Electricity.

    Good And Bad News About Nuclear Power Going Green:
    Good: The World Would Be A Better Place Without Nuclear Power Because The Fumes Produced From The Power Plant Is CO2 And Other Chemicals, Which Creates Global Warming Across the World, Example; Do You Guys Remember When It Was The Beijing Olympics? All Of The Smog Was Across The City And You Couldn’t Even See The Blue Sky
    Bad: The Bad News Is That We Would Need To Destroy The Nuclear Plants, Which Will Stop Nuclear Power And This Means That The Governments/Citizens/People Wasted Their Money On These Expensive Power Plants.

    Anyway, Thank You For Reading My Topic,(If You Read It)

  21. Said Mosavi 420 Says:

    Locky!
    The sun produces more energy every hour than the entire energy needs of human civilization from the beginning of time. Solar panels will help us harvest increasing amounts of this abundance of energy to meet our energy needs in the future.

    Deserts is the most excellent position we would be able to construct all our solar systems in and as far as I’m concerned, deserts are not essential for humans to build houses, buildings or live in those areas in fact it is the finest because it is mostly sunny there for around 90% or percent or more of the time in deserts.

  22. Nick Says:

    “Renewable Energy” Is Energy That Is Generated From Multiple Natural Sources Such As..
    Wind, Rain, Sunlight, Tides And Geothermal Heat.
    There All Renewable, Mainly Used For Heating.
    This Is What Nuclear Power Plants Use.

    “Sustainable Energy” Is Energy That Meets The Needs Of The Present Without Compromising The Ability Of Future Generations To Meet There Needs.
    This May Include Fossil Fuels As A Transitional Source While Technology Develops.
    This Is What Nuclear Power Plants Use ASWELL !

    Nuclear Power Continues To Be Considered As An Alternative To Fossil Fuel Power Sources And In 1956, When The First Peak Oil Paper Was Presented..

    Nuclear Energy Was Presented As The Replacement For Fossil Fuels..
    But Ever Since The Chernobyl Disaster, People Have Been Doubted To Make New Nuclear Plants..

    This Trend Is Slowly Reversing, And Several New Nuclear Reactors Are Scheduled For Construction.

    So It Shows That Now People Are Starting To Take A Second Look On Nuclear Power, Although Not EVERYONE Wants This To Happen, But Its Happening !
    People Are Worried About Peak Uranium And Uranium Depletion And There Going On Debate.

    Thats My Thing, I Hope It All Makes Sence !
    And Im Sorry Its So Late, Stupid Internet Stuffed Up ALL Last Night And ALL Today. TPG Sucks Sometime !
    But Yeah, Thats All.

    Juicy OUT !
    Nick Barbaressos.

    • Travis Says:

      Good work nick =D
      i didn’t know that there are so many types of
      renewable enegies =]
      i learnt something yay!

  23. Travis Says:

    Radiation Hazards, these can be very dangerous at a high
    dosage. but just because a nuclear power plant has a radiation “hazard” doesn’t mean it is dangerous, or deadly. many common things such as exfoliating has a slight radiation hazard.

    A Radiation hazard has the potential to kill a person if they recieve a high enough dosage of Grays. but this also depends on siverts and the type of radiation.

    There are many type of radiation hazards that can take place, for example Electromagnetic radiation, these are things such as x-rays or gamma rays.

  24. gayatribabber Says:

    hello sir
    Nuclear power is one of the most expensive ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is historical government supported knowing that already it is expensive. Support has not been available for energy efficiency and renewable energy government by historical government. President Barack Obama announced a US $8.3 billion government loan guarantee to a private company to build twin nuclear reactors in the southern state of Georgia.
    New plant or new design for nuclear power is promised to be simpler, cheaper and quicker to build but proves to be opposite. The estimation that the building the nuclear power with 1.6 gigawatt reactor would cost US $8 billion.
    According to public citizen, the US consumer advocacy organisation the high capital costs and long construction times make nuclear reactors prohibitively expensive unless they are heavily subsidised by taxpayers. Government made the industry by the tax, insurance and other supports, government has propped up nuclear power ever since. From 1947 to 1999, the nuclear industry received US $115 billion. Government made wind and solar energy at the same time and received US$5.7 billion.
    thank you


  25. [...] events (fissions). If you want to see what it looks like, check the Tsar Bomba update on the Boomology post. We can theorise what they look like from what we know how they work, and we have various [...]


  26. [...] We are looking at how nuclear science is used to generate power and as a weapon.  There are two previous posts on this blog that are important for you to read: “Want some salt with your Fission Chips?” and “Boomology – the Science of Nuclear Explosions”. [...]


  27. [...] have written many posts on this blog about nuclear power (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) (you may want to pay particular attention to the comment streams…). Not only is nuclear [...]


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