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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How Radiation Sickness Works

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?

How Radioactive Cleanup Works

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?

How a Nuclear Meltdown Works

It's hard to get beyond Fukushima Daiichi when you think about nuclear meltdowns, but in fact the first one occurred decades ago, in 1969, in Switzerland's Lake Geneva region. How does such a cataclysmic incident occur?

How a Nuclear Reactor Works

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?

Image Gallery: Nuclear Meltdown Disasters

Nuclear power, for the most part, is a clean, alternative energy source, but nuclear meltdowns and disasters cause people to question the safety of the technology. See pictures of some of the most catastrophic nuclear meltdowns.

Image Gallery: Inside a Nuclear Power Plant

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

How Japan's Nuclear Crisis Works

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?

What would nuclear winter be like?

If the sight of a mushroom cloud burning above the horizon suggests that the nuclear weapon-equipped world might end with a bang, then nuclear winter presents the notion that post-World War III humanity might very well die with a whimper.

How Radiation Works

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?

How the Nuclear Arms Race Works

The detonation of the world's first nuclear bomb ushered in the atomic age. It also amplified tensions between countries and sparked an era in which nations scrambled for power and seemed headed toward catastrophe.

How easy is it to steal a nuclear bomb?

If you watched "24," you might think real-life Jack Bauers stop bad guys from detonating stolen nukes all the time. Just how hard is it to steal a nuclear weapon?

How the Manhattan Project Worked

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.

Can people get poisoned by indirect exposure to polonium-210?

British authorities have found traces of polonium-210 in at least five buildings and three British Airways jets since Alexander Litvinenko fell ill.

What's a uranium centrifuge?

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.

How Nuclear Fusion Reactors Work

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.

How Atom Smashers Work

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.

How Nuclear Medicine Works

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

How Nuclear Power Works

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?

How Nuclear Radiation Works

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

How does a Crookes' radiometer work?

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?

What is an atomic clock and 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.

How Atomic Clocks Work

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.


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