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ZingPath: Nuclear Physics

Examples of Atomic and Nuclear Phenomena

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Nuclear Physics

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Lesson Focus

Examples of Atomic and Nuclear Phenomena


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You get to explore the world of nuclear physics. Learn about isotopes, half-life, and radioactive decay. Use your knowledge to help the crew of a damaged nuclear submarine keep the reactor going.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Give examples of nuclear reactions.
  • Explain the ways in which X-rays are used.
  • Explain the ways in which radiation is used.

Everything You'll Have Covered

What discovery did German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen make in 1896?

~ While working on an experiment, Röntgen noticed that when cathode rays collided with metals, they quickly produced a high-energy radiation that, at the time, was unknown to science. Because the rays were unknown at the time, Röntgen named this radiation "X-rays."

Explain how X-rays work and why they have become so important.

~ X-rays have high energy and because of this are able to pass through many layers of atoms without being absorbed or scattered. Most of radiation's energy is lost in hard objects and is therefore absorbed by them. Because of these differing levels of absorption in different materials with different densities, they are useful in analyzing the inner structure of many things, including the human body. X-ray machines shoot rays at a target to produce an image. In hard areas where few X-rays can penetrate, we see a shadow. In softer areas where most of the rays can penetrate, we see empty space.

What is ionization radiation and how is it used?

~ When atoms are split in fission or fused in fusion, high-energy radiation is released. This type of radiation causes electrons to break off from the atom leaving the atom ionized. Ionization radiation is also used in modern medicine to treat cancer by killing off cancerous cells.

How are atomic and nuclear reactions used to produce energy?

~ In atomic and nuclear power plants, controlled fission reactions are used to produce huge amounts of energy by heating water until it turns into water vapor, which then moves turbines to produce electricity.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 2 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should be able to define atom, atomic, and cathode ray.
Course Physics
Type of Tutorial Animation
Key Vocabulary atom, atomic, cathode ray