Portal:Nuclear technology

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The nuclear technology portal

This symbol of radioactivity is internationally recognized.

Nuclear technology is technology that involves the reactions of atomic nuclei. It has found applications from smoke detectors to nuclear reactors, and from gun sights to nuclear weapons. There is a great deal of public concern about its possible implications, and every application of nuclear technology is reviewed with care.

Nuclear power is the controlled use of nuclear reactions (currently limited to nuclear fission and radioactive decay) to do useful work including propulsion, heat, and the generation of electricity. Nuclear energy is produced when a fissile material, such as uranium-235, is concentrated such that the natural rate of radioactive decay is accelerated in a controlled chain reaction and creates heat – which is used to boil water, produce steam, and drive a steam turbine. This turbine can be used for mechanical work and also to generate electricity.


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The Sun is a natural fusion reactor.
Fusion power is a form of power generation in which energy is generated by using fusion reactions to produce heat for electricity generation. Fusion reactions fuse two lighter atomic nuclei to form a heavier nucleus, releasing energy. Devices designed to harness this energy are known as fusion reactors.

The fusion reaction normally takes place in a plasma of deuterium and tritium heated to millions of degrees Kelvin. In stars, gravity contains these fuels, outside of a star, the most researched way to confine the plasma at these temperatures is to use magnetic fields, although many other concepts have been attempted. The major challenge in realising fusion power is to engineer a system that can confine the plasma long enough at high enough temperature and density.


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Schematic of a tokamak

A tokamak is a machine producing a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) magnetic field for confining a plasma. It is one of several types of magnetic confinement devices and the leading candidate for producing fusion energy, the term tokamak is a transliteration of the Russian word Токамак which itself comes from the Russian words: "тороидальная камера в магнитных катушках" (toroidal chamber in magnetic coils, tocamac). It was invented in the 1950s by Igor Yevgenyevich Tamm and Andrei Sakharov. (Continued...)


Did you know?

...that the world's first nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1, was built under the abandoned west stands of the Alonzo Stagg Field stadium on the University of Chicago campus?

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Marie Curie was one of the most significant researchers of ionizing radiation and its effects.
Marie Skłodowska Curie (/ˈkjʊəri/; French: [kyʁi]; Polish: [kʲiˈri]; born Maria Salomea Skłodowska; 7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences, and was part of the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris.

She was born in Warsaw, in what was then the Kingdom of Poland, part of the Russian Empire, she studied at Warsaw's clandestine Flying University and began her practical scientific training in Warsaw. In 1891, aged 24, she followed her older sister Bronisława to study in Paris, where she earned her higher degrees and conducted her subsequent scientific work, she shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with her husband Pierre Curie and with physicist Henri Becquerel. She won the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


Nuclear technology news

  • 17 August 2016: The world's most powerful fast reactor BN-800 reaches its full power production level.

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- Albert Einstein after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, seeing what his letter regarding the development of nuclear weapons had caused.

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