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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

Define the term electromagnetism
Bokiyana Reply
Definition of ohm's law
The current flowing through a conductor is directly proportional to the potential difference across the end of the conductor.
how do i calculate ohms law
Tiisetso Reply
How can i resolve vectors into components
Nhlalala Reply
Fx=fcos Fy=fsin
how many Atoms Do exist?
Jhon Reply
bullet fired from the gun
Prem Reply
explain why HCL is a Bronstead lowry acid . use an equation of HCL in water to explain
Mihlali Reply
what is electron. ( you should not allowed to tell it properties in it defination.)
vigyan Reply
a charged particle.
investigative question
Obakeng Reply
how do you create a bomb
Nasty Reply
how can I create a bomb
how can I create a bomb
how can I create a bomb
how can I create a bomb
how can I create a bomb
how can I create a bomb
how can I create a bomb
how can I create a bomb
how can I create a bomb
if you want to create bomb use this chemical substance oxidised, sulphuric acid,tobacco,gas and flammable substance , mix all this substance together and put in strong mental bottle like gas bottle put in . you must close the bottle very parked and carry that bottle carefully and shake in 5 minutes
after shake put this bottle were the temperature is 100 degrees Celsius after moment that bottle will be high explosion like bomb
what is mass
asmerom Reply
is object amount matter contain by object
what is hypothesis
hypothesis is a tentative explanation that does not have facts and it can be proven to be wrong or right
wath is physical science
Siphelo Reply
what is physics
Dineo Reply
the branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy
use a vector scale diagram and represent the two displacements(5m east and 7m west)
itumeleng Reply
what os covalent?
Shellah Reply
can i ask something?
Uapfa Reply
how to calculate enthalpy on a reaction?

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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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