- Nuclear power and what you need to know about it, part one.
Fossil fuels are killing us, when it comes to our pocketbooks especially. But is nuclear power the answer? Here’s the history, so you tell me.
- 10% of the world’s electricity comes from nuclear power. The leading country being France, getting 70% of their power from nuclear.
- Radioactive waste is a huge problem resulting from nuclear power. 80,000 tons of waste has come from the US to date.
- A nuclear meltdown is always possible.
- In 1938, Nazi Germany, Jewish chemists discovered nuclear fission.
- Atoms store all their energy in the nucleus.
- An atom is small, at .000000001 meters. In example, if every atom in your hand was the size of a marble, your fist would be the size of the Earth. What a great history of nuclear power fun fact!
- If you fire a neutron particle at an atom of uranium, its nucleus splits and releases two thousand times the amount of energy of the original neutron that triggered it. The split uranium atom throws off two extra neutrons and those collide with more uranium atoms, in a chain reaction creating radiation and heat. As a power source, nuclear power is a great source of energy but it can be made into a powerful weapon.
- They wanted to take over the world, and therefore the Nazis wanted to develop an atomic bomb. Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt and told him this could be very bad, the US needed to beat Germany to it.
- The Manhattan project came to be, a collaboration between the US, UK, and Canada, and together wanted to develop an atomic bomb before Hitler could.
- The first atom bomb used in WWII on August 6th and 8:15a.m. on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki- and ended the war.
- The Manhattan Project finds a peaceful spin off of their new technology- nuclear power.
- There are drawbacks to working with atomic energy:
- Anyone who works with atomic energy is exposed to radiation which could cause cancer down the line or in large doses, kill you outright.
- Early in the 1950s the possibilities of this power seemed almost limitless
- Nuclear power promised to supply a steady supply of clean energy from a relatively abundant source.
- Scientists imagine more about the technology, that farms could use the radiated fertilizer to increase overall output.
- There are potential medical advances like radioactive sodium to detect heart disease and locate brain tumors.
- Nuclear power is considered a reliable energy source that doesn’t pollute the atmosphere or involve costly fossil fuels.
- Soviets were the first to create the world’s first fully operational power plant southwest of Moscow.
- Europe wasn’t far behind but one of the UK’s first reactors called Windscale, made headlines when there was a fire in the reactor that left 15 tons of radioactive fuel melting in the core. Like the other incidences since, the British government downplays the severity of the incident.
- The first operational power plant to open in the US is in Shippingsport, Pennsylvania.
For part two, read The History of Nuclear Power in Fun Facts: Part Two.
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