The extraordinary power locked in the nucleus of atoms
is shown when the explosion of a nuclear bomb releases some of the energy.
- energy that holds the nucleus of every atom together is called nuclear energy.
Fusion / Fission
- every star in the universe – it can be released either by nuclear fusion or nuclear fission.
You might be surprised to note that fusion is actually a better bet
than fission when it comes to generating power.
- nuclear fusion – it happens when nuclear energy is released as nuclei join together – this same happens inside our Sun and other stars when they are squeezed together by gravity.
Above two diagrams showing the balance of gravitational forces (contraction)
with fusion (expansion) that is maintained to keep Sun stable and fusion burning.
- nuclei – usually only tiny nuclei, such as those of hydrogen and helium, fuse (join); only under extreme pressure in huge, exploding stars do big nuclei – such as those of iron.
- nuclear fission – it happens when nuclear energy is released by the splitting of nuclei; this method used in most power stations and in atomic bombs – involves splitting big nuclei; such as Uranium-235 and plutonium.
Did you know?
- atomic bomb – energy is released in one second.
- power station – control rods ensure that nuclear reactions are slowed down to release energy; bit and bit (step and step).
How powerful between mankind and natural universe?
- Mankind: Hiroshima bomb at Japan – released 84 trillion joules of energy. (photo)
- Natural universe: Supernova – releases 125,000 trillion trillion times as much. (Messier 1 – Crab Nebula; seen by a telescope.)