Nuclear Science

Nuclear science is the study of sub-atomic particles and their application in various disciplines. Here you can learn about nuclear power plants, atomic theory and radiation.

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In the history of atomic research, few stories are as gripping or cautionary as that of the demon core, a plutonium sphere designed for one of history's most devastating weapons. This tale not only encapsulates the highest point of atomic ambition but also serves as a somber reminder of the human cost associated with such power.

By Clarissa Mitton

In nuclear physics, the concept of half-life plays a crucial role in understanding the decay of radioactive substances. Scientists use the half-life formula in other disciplines to predict the rate of decay, as well as measure the age of ancient artifacts through carbon dating.

By Yara Simón

The Standard Model of physics provides a framework for the subatomic world of all energies. Could a possible newfound carrier boson expand the definition of that framework?

By Mark Mancini

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Tour the inside of a nuclear power plant with these illustrative diagrams to learn more about how nuclear power plants work.

By Allison Loudermilk

The nuclear arms race was a frantic era in which several nations tested nuclear technology and stockpiled warheads. Read about the nuclear arms race.

By John Fuller

Dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended World War II. How did the most powerful weapon in the world get developed? It started with the Manhattan Project.

By John Fuller

Thorium is in many ways safer than uranium for nuclear power production. But is it safe enough to bet on for our energy future?

By Jesslyn Shields

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Iran has announced its activation of a second set of uranium centrifuges. These machines are at the core of the uranium-enrichment process. Find out where the centrifuge fits into the equation.

By Marshall Brain

I once saw this device shaped like a light bulb. It had a vertical support inside it, and on that support there were four vanes with four diamonds on the end. One side of the diamond was black and the other was white. I did a little research and found out that it was called a Crookes' radiometer -- how does it work?

Many ads for new clocks advertise their ability to automatically synchronize themselves with the atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado. This atomic clock is more precise because it uses the frequencies of atoms as its resonator.

Nuclear materials get used in many forms of nuclear medicine -- everything from PET scans to chemotherapy uses them. Learn how nuclear medicine works.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

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On the one hand, nuclear power offers a clean energy alternative that decreases fossil fuel dependence. On the other, it summons images of quake-ruptured Japanese power plants leaking radioactive water. What happens in reactors in good times and bad?

By Marshall Brain, Robert Lamb & Patrick J. Kiger

When the power goes out and is later restored, how do you know what time to set your clocks to? Have you ever wondered how time is regulated? Learn how scientists determine exact time.

By Douglas Dwyer

Nuclear radiation can be extremely beneficial or extremely harmful -- it all depends on how it's used. Learn what nuclear radiation is all about.

By Marshall Brain & Desiree Bowie

Fusion reactors will use abundant sources of fuel, will not leak radiation above normal background levels, and will produce less radioactive waste than current fission reactors. Learn about this promising power source.

By Patrick J. Kiger & Craig C. Freudenrich

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Who wants to reduce our complicated universe down to its simplest building blocks? A bunch of particle physicists, that's who. Why is the Higgs boson critical to that goal?

By Jonathan Atteberry & Sascha Bos

In the comics, radiation exposure turned an average man into a pea green and angry Incredible Hulk. But in reality, what can radiation do to those exposed? Is it always a villain?

By Debra Ronca

Over the years, nuclear reactors have been viewed as both a miracle and a menace. How does a nuclear reactor do its job? And what happens when something goes wrong?

By Patrick J. Kiger

It's lunchtime, and you've spastically spilled soda all over your desk. Chances are you could tackle that mess faster than we could say "Mr. Clean." What do you do though when the spill is radioactive?

By Jonathan Atteberry

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Nuclear meltdowns can be scary, but it's important to understand what causes them. Learn about how nuclear meltdowns work.

By Robert Lamb & Desiree Bowie

We're all exposed to tiny levels of radiation, but a blast of it can leave you in agony — that is, if it doesn't kill you outright. What is it, what causes it and how can we treat it?

By Ed Grabianowski

Atom smashers tell us about the fundamental structure of matter, the forces holding it together and the origins of the universe. Discover how scientists use particle accelerators to break atoms apart to learn about the nature of reality.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

Thanks to our voracious appetite for energy, the element long linked with nuclear weapons is taking on a new role. Where does the hunt begin for uranium?

By Marianne Spoon

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Explosions, fires and dangerous radiation levels dominated the headlines after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami sparked a nuclear crisis in Japan. How did so many safety measures fail?

By Marshall Brain

In 1957, Hugh Everett first wrote about the multiverse — different realms where every choice spawns a separate universe in which another version of ourselves does something different. It sounds crazy, but here are some reasons it might be true.

By Patrick J. Kiger