Chemistry - Nuclear Fusion versus Nuclear Fission

The above is a nuclear power plant.

Chemistry - Nuclear Fusion versus Nuclear Fission

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Have you ever heard of the term “nuclear?” What does nuclear mean? Nuclear is an action that involves the science of studying and manipulating the nucleus of an atom. If you remember from past science lessons, an atom is the very basic unit of all matter. It contains a dense central nucleus that is surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The nucleus has proven to be an extremely powerful weapon, as well as a powerful friend to mankind.

Nuclear or more specifically nuclear energy can be broken down into two separate areas, i.e., nuclear fusion and nuclear fission.

Both of these involve the extraction of energy by manipulating the nucleus of an atom. However, fusion is the joining together two or more atoms to make one large atom and fission is splitting one atom apart into two or more smaller atoms. In fact, fusion means a merging of separate elements into a unified whole while fission means a splitting or breaking up into parts.

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Nuclear fission was first discovered by Otto Hahn and his assistant Fritz Strassmann. Fission does not naturally take place in nature. It is created by man through the process of aiming a neutron at the nucleus of an unstable atom. A neutron is a subatomic hadron particle that has no electrical charge.

In 1929, Robert d’Escourt Atkinson and Friedrich Houtermans discovered nuclear fusion by following Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Fusion can either be created by man or it has a natural occurrence. An example of a natural fusion would be the energy that powers the Sun. This occurs when hydrogen and helium in the Sun collide together and in turn it affects the source of all weather related events.

When fission occurs, tiny radioactive particles are dispersed into the air. Radioactive particles are also known as nuclear decay which can be extremely harmful to man, animals and plants. With nuclear fusion, there are no radioactive particles involved.

The amount of energy that is released by fission is a million times greater than the energy that is released in chemical reactions. However, even with the amount of energy it releases, it is lower than the energy that is released by nuclear fusion.

The atomic bomb is the result of nuclear fission. The hydrogen bomb is the result of nuclear fusion. However, in the hydrogen bomb, in order to first trigger the bomb, a nuclear fission must first occur which is why the hydrogen bomb is even more powerful than the atomic bomb.

If you have heard of a nuclear energy plant, the type of nuclear that is being used is fission, with uranium being the primary fuel used. This is why many people are opposed to nuclear plants because should there be an explosion, radioactive particles will be dispersed into the air, potentially killing everything with a radius of the plant.

Hydrogen isotopes (deuterium and tritium) are the primary fuels used in fusion plants. However, more testing is needed as using energy from the results of nuclear fusion is harder to maintain than fission.

For each of the following ten questions on nuclear fusion and nuclear fission, see if you can find the correct answer to each question.
1.
Atkinson and Houtermans discovered nuclear fusion by following ______ Theory of Relativity.
Boyle's
Newton's
Einstein's
Aristotle's
Atkinson and Friedrich Houtermans discovered nuclear fusion by following Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Answer (c) is correct
2.
This is the primary fuel used in fission.
Hydrogen
Tritium
Uranium
Helium
Uranium is the primary fuel used in fission. Answer (c) is correct
3.
This is the very basic unit of all matter.
Neutron
Proton
Nucleus
Atom
An atom is the very basic unit of all matter. Answer (d) is correct
4.
This type of bomb is the result of nuclear fusion.
Hydrogen
Atomic
Nuclear
Neutron
The hydrogen bomb is the result of nuclear fusion. Answer (a) is correct
5.
This means a splitting or breaking up into parts.
Atomic
Isotopes
Fusion
Fission
Fission means a splitting or breaking up into parts. Answer (d) is correct
6.
When you split an atom into two or more smaller atoms this is known as _____.
atomic reaction
fusion
fission
nuclear explosion
When you split an atom into two or more smaller atoms, this is known as fission. Answer (c) is correct
7.
This is a subatomic hadron particle that has no electrical charge.
Neutron
Proton
Nucleus
Electron
A neutron is a subatomic hadron particle that has no electrical charge. Answer (a) is correct
8.
This type of bomb is the result of nuclear fission.
Fusion
Atomic
Nuclear
Hydrogen
The atomic bomb is the result of nuclear fission. Answer (b) is correct
9.
This means a merging of separate elements into a unified whole.
Fusion
Atomic
Fission
Hydrogen
Fusion means a merging of separate elements into a unified whole. Answer (a) is correct
10.
This is one of the primary fuels used in fusion.
Helium
Deuterium
Uranium
Hydrogen
Deuterium is one of the primary fuels used in fusion. Answer (b) is correct
Author:  Christine G. Broome

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