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Nuclear fission

Nuclear fission is a process where the nucleus of an atom is split into two or more smaller nuclei, known as fission products . The fission of heavy elements is an exothermic reaction and huge amounts of energy are released in the process. This energy can be used to produce nuclear power or to make nuclear weapons , both of which we will discuss a little later.

Nuclear fission

The splitting of an atomic nucleus into smaller nuclei

Below is a diagram showing the nuclear fission of Uranium-235. An atom of Uranium-235 is bombarded with a neutron to initiate the fission process. This neutron is absorbed by Uranium-235, to become Uranium-236. Uranium-236 is highly unstable and breaks down into a number of lighter elements, releasing energy in the process. Free neutrons are also produced during this process, and these are then available to bombard other fissionable elements. This process is known as a fission chain reaction , and occurs when one nuclear reaction starts off another, which then also starts off another one so that there is a rapid increase in the number of nuclear reactions that are taking place.

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The atomic bomb - an abuse of nuclear fission

A nuclear chain reaction can happen very quickly, releasing vast amounts of energy in the process. In 1939, it was discovered that Uranium could undergo nuclear fission. In fact, it was uranium that was used in the first atomic bomb. The bomb contained large amounts of Uranium-235, enough to start a runaway nuclear fission chain reaction. Because the process was uncontrolled, the energy from the fission reactions was released in a matter of seconds , resulting in the massive explosion of that first bomb. Since then, more atomic bombs have been detonated, causing massive destruction and loss of life.

Discussion : nuclear weapons testing - an ongoing issue

Read the article below which has been adapted from one that appeared in 'The Globe' in Washington on 10th October 2006, and then answer the questions that follow.

US officials and arms control specialists warned yesterday that North Korea's test of a small nuclear device could start an arms race in the region and threaten the landmark global treaty designed nearly four decades ago to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. US officials expressed concern that North Korea's neighbors, including Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, could eventually decide to develop weapons of their own. They also fear that North Korea's moves could embolden Iran, and that this in turn could encourage Saudi Arabia or other neighbours in the volatile Middle East to one day seek nuclear deterrents, analysts say.

North Korea is the first country to conduct a nuclear test after pulling out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The treaty, which was created in 1968, now includes 185 nations (nearly every country in the world). Under the treaty, the five declared nuclear powers at the time (United States, the Soviet Union, France, China, and Great Britain) agreed to reduce their supplies of nuclear weapons. The treaty has also helped to limit the number of new nuclear weapons nations.

Questions & Answers

what is the formula for calculating tension
Kagiso Reply
You can use simultaneous equations or T=mg+ma
- Which formula can you use if you want to calculate acceleration?
to calculate acceleration you use formula Vf -Vi divided by the time (t)
What is the formula of calculating tension
sibahle Reply
I don't think there's a formula u just have to use all information in that type of situation
can a mixture of atoms make a molecule
Keamogetse Reply
define the term "resultant"
Austin Reply
the sum of all the forces acting on an object
carring out an investigation of the relationship of acceleration and net force with mass kept constant
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Bhereza Reply
kinetic friction × Normal force
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Really Reply
how to calculate acceleration due to gravity
Mpho Reply
how to calculate inertia and it's definition
sibahle Reply
how to draw a box of tall the force that act on the box mass is 5 .00 and lies a ramp with 30°
Thando Reply
how to determine Gravitational acceleration
Raman Reply
what is a force
Edith Reply
A force is a pull or push action that affects the shape, motion and direction of an object
the different types of friction forces
different types of frictional forces are static frictional force(the object is stationery)and kinetic frictional force(the object is moving)
what is a vector
Nosihle Reply
a vector is a physical quantity that have both magnitude and direction
how to calculate the magnitude and direction if, P=500N,10°,Q=200N,30°,R=300N,60°
Asavela Reply
Describe relationship between the net force exerted on an object and acceleration of the object in words
Motshidisi Reply
Newton's second law of motion states that the acceleration of an object is equal to the net force exerted on the objectdivided by the object's mass. The direction of acceleration is the same as the direction of thenet force.
what is close vector diagram
can you describe the relationship between the netf exterted on an object and A of the object for me plz
the are directly proportional When one increase the other will roo
and the mass is inversely proportional
what is an intermolecular
Senzo Reply
is the forces that act in the molecules

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 11 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Jul 29, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11241/1.2
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