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.¹ 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 → [236U] → 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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Origin Earth: From External Matter or By On Site Fusion?

Astronomy, Education
[caption id="attachment_15593" align="alignright" width="480"] Nuclear fusion in a red giant.[/caption] Origin Earth: As elementary school students, we are taught many subjects, including science. We are taught proven facts, which is a fine thing. Yet some unproven ideas may be included disguised as actual fact. A science theory may be popular yet wrong. Recall the ancient idea that Earth is supported in space by objects such as elephants and turtles, rather than by gravity. Also recall our planet was thought to be the center of the universe, while the sun rotated about it. Finally, remember, recall, realize that some felt the earth was one heck-of-a huge flat pancake. The Big Bang Theory One popular origins theory is the Big Bang. Simply put, a large explosion occurred that propelled matter and energy…
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Difference between Fission and Fusion?

[caption id="attachment_13674" align="alignright" width="440"] Deuterium-Tritium Fusion[/caption] In the 1900s, seeming peace was rudely interrupted by two developments in nuclear science. The first was fission. The second was fusion. Both can be used in positive ways. But rarely does mankind focus on good. What’s the difference between fission and fusion? Fission Fission is the dividing or splitting of something. This word well applies to the splitting of the atom. More often than not, that atom is the uranium atom. In particular, it is 235U. The 235 stands for isotope atomic weight. There are other isotopes of uranium, most notably 238U. Atoms are fissionable with a net release of energy if they have an atomic weight higher than approximately that of iron. Fusion Fusion behaves in the opposite manner. Fusion is defined…
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Characteristics of a High Mass Star

[caption id="attachment_5770" align="alignright" width="440"] Crab Nebula - NASA & ESA[/caption] A high mass star has more matter than a low mass star. More matter increases a star’s gravitational field. Gravity produces the heat that initiates fusion. Fusion occurs more readily in a high mass star. It also lowers life expectancy. It can result in a supernova event and the producing of a neutron star. Some say it can even result in a black hole. Fusion Fusion begins by combining hydrogen atoms into helium atoms. As hydrogen diminishes, it is predominantly helium atoms that fuse. Helium concentrates at the center since gravity pulls it more due to its greater mass. As the helium fuses, it forms carbon atoms. Carbon then gravitates to the center of the star. Over time, layers form.…
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Three Hydrogen Isotopes: Protium, Deuterium, Tritium

Chemistry, Physics
Elements are the building blocks of a chemist’s world. The first and simplest element is hydrogen, H. It is a gas at room temperature. A molecule of hydrogen gas consists of two joined atoms. However, we will discuss the lone atoms, which exist in three varieties: protium, deuterium, and tritium. All hydrogen atoms have an atomic number of 1. This means the central core or nucleus of any of the three varieties of hydrogen contains just 1 proton. All hydrogen atoms have 1 electron in an orbital outside the nucleus. What makes the three varieties different? The nucleus of hydrogen can include in addition to the proton, zero, one, or two neutrons. Protium Hydrogen without any neutron is protium. Hydrogen with one neutron is deuterium. Hydrogen with two neutrons is…
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