Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Today we learnt at school that atoms can be destructed. I believe Physics is a great science to do experiment and I would like to try it at home. Could you tell me what I need to do it? and is it dangerous?

share|improve this question
Are you talking about nuclear fusion or fission, or something else? –  Will Jul 9 '13 at 18:03
Thank you. But I don't know what they are.. I want to experiment to destroy an atom. Is it possible to do at home? If it is the case, how can I do it? –  İnci siker Jul 9 '13 at 18:05
If you get a smoke alarm, it contains some atoms which destroy themselves. You don't even have to do anything! –  twistor59 Jul 9 '13 at 18:07
I think you should read about fission, fusion, decay - wikipedia could be good for this. –  Will Jul 9 '13 at 18:31
Even human body contains some amount of radioactive atoms. For instance: muller.lbl.gov/teaching/physics10/old%20physics%2010/… –  Ali Jul 9 '13 at 18:47
show 4 more comments

closed as unclear what you're asking by Dilaton, dmckee Jul 9 '13 at 22:42

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

An atom is composed of a nucleus surrounded by small particle called electrons. Electrons are relatively easy to remove (for example to make electrical current). So people talk of "destroying" (not really the proper word) an atom when somehow they "destroy" the nucleus.

Destroying atoms is not a game or something to be experiment with for fun. It is not even the fact that it could be dangerous (it can be extremely dangerous), it is simply very difficult to control without very complex equipment.

Some atoms will transform by themselves into other atoms, spontaneously, as explained by some of the comments. As they do that they will produce particles that are often (not only) the nuclei of very small atoms (the smallest is Hydrogene, and next one is Helium). These are what is called radioactivity, and (worth repeating) it can be extremely dangerous. Protection against radioactivity can be very difficult. Fortunately, natural radioactivity from spontaneous tranformation of atoms is usually very weak (not in Fukushima, though).

Actually you do not destroy atoms, but only transform them into other atoms, either by fusion of two nuclei into a larger one, or by breaking a large nucleus into smaller ones, which is called fission.

This can produce large amounts of energy, as in atomic bomb and in nuclear powerplants.

Here you have plenty of words to search the Internet. If you want as list of know atoms (up to some details) look at Mendeleev Periodic Table. There are only about 120 different ones (up to differences that are a bit to delicate to explain here). These are the basic chemicals existing in nature.

Now you can assemble them into larger things called molecules, that constitute all material things around you. Working with molecule is chemistry. There are kit to do simple tranformations of molecules that are not dangerous (it can be dangerous too, if you are careless).

Good luck in school. That is a good place to learn. And books too.

share|improve this answer
IF you are really interested in sciences, remember you will need your brain. Maybe slowing down on hamburgers can help preserve that asset. And running is good too. –  babou Jul 9 '13 at 19:47
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.