Chemistry Nuclear Energy and Radiation Assignment

Simply answer the 14 questions below. This is not an essay, just answer the questions. Be specific! Your answer to each question may vary in length, but please include as much as details as you can. Number your questions.

1. Describe in words what happens during nuclear fission. Use uranium-235 as an example, explaining how the reaction is started and what the products are.

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2. Lise Meitner, in about 1939, explained what happened during nuclear fission of uranium and why a large amount of energy is released during nuclear fission. What is the explanation for this release of energy? Explain the connection of this phenomenon to Einstein’s theory of relativity, as described in the famous equation E = mc2. (You may choose to read about Lisa Meitner on wikipedia to respond to this very important part of the assignment.)

3. Explain what is meant by a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, using the fission reaction of uranium-235 as an example. Where was this first demonstrated and when?

4. Summarize the content of the famous Einstein-Szilard letter to President Roosevelt in August, 1939. What action was taken as a result of this letter?

5. How is the energy released by nuclear fission converted into electrical energy in a nuclear reactor? Summarize the steps.

6. Control rods are used to start up and shut down a nuclear reactor. How are the control rods used, and how do they cause the reactor to start up and shut down?

7. Where are the nuclear reactors in New Jersey located, and when did they originally start operating? How much longer are they expected to continue operating?

8. Describe what is meant by alpha, beta and gamma radiation, in separate sections below. In each case, also summarize their relative energies, and abilities to penetrate skin, and the relative threats they pose to animal life.

(a) alpha radiation

(b) beta radiation

(c) gamma radiation

9. Define what is meant by a radioactive half-life. Then, as an example, calculate what percentage of the radioactivity being emitted from a source with a half-life of 10 years would remain after 80 years.

10. Where is most of the used radioactive material from nuclear reactors being stored, while it decays? How long will it be before this waste is no longer dangerous?

11. Summarize the three most significant nuclear accidents to date, in separate sections as listed below. In each case, explain the origins of the accident, their short-term effects on the surrounding populations, and the current status of the sites where these accidents occurred.

(a) 3-Mile Island, Pennsylvania, USA, 1979

(b) Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR, 1986

(c) Fukushima, Japan, 2011

12. Summarize the importance of nuclear energy in relation to climate change and global warming.

13. Summarize the arguments in favor and against the continued use and further development of nuclear energy.

14. Give one example of the use of radiation treatment in medicine (there are many). Include a description of the nuclear reaction involved.

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