Initiating a Fission Chain Reaction: What is Critical Mass?

Physics, Technology
[caption id="attachment_19651" align="alignright" width="600"] One basic fission reaction[/caption] What is critical mass? Before we answer that question, we want to discuss the topic of fission, itself. When we speak of atomic bombs, we do not usually mean hydrogen bombs or fusion bombs in which the nuclei of hydrogen atoms fuse together.ยน Rather, we mean fission bombs, in which large atoms of radioactive (unstable) elements are torn apart to produce smaller atoms with the release tremendous energy. One simple atomic explosion reaction is written, 1 n + 235U โ†’ [236U] โ†’ 92Kr + 141Ba + 3 n The above equation informs us that one energetic neutron properly striking an atom of uranium, isotope 235, produces, first and temporarily, an ordinarily stable atom of uranium, isotope 236. [caption id="attachment_19652" align="alignleft" width="300"] Uraninite…
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