Nuclear Physics
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Nuclear Physics

stars
Fusion - Thanks to NASA

Nuclear physics is the process of getting energy from the nucleus of an atom. There are two ways to release energy from atoms: fission and fusion. Fusion happens all the time in nature, mostly inside stars because fusion needs lots of heat or gravity to get it going. Fusion works with the smallest atoms. Four hydrogen atoms smash together to make one helium atom, and they release the energy you see as sunshine and starshine. People can also cause fusion reactions inside hydrogen bombs.

atom bomb
Fission - an atomic bomb

Fission doesn't happen much in nature, but people can use fission reactions to release energy for atomic bombs, and also for nuclear power plants to make electricity for houses and cars and factories. Fission works with the biggest atoms like uranium. Splitting these big atoms apart releases energy too.

Bibliography and further reading about nuclear physics:

Molecules
Electricity
Chemistry
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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