The study of radiation and radioactive materials and it's creation, safety, and applications.

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why aren't there nuclear powered aircraft?

I know this might sound like more of an engineering question that about physics, and it probably is, but bear with me: i'm still not sure if the answer to my question lies in the physics or in the ...
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1answer
144 views

How does the curiosity rover get it's power? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Mars Curiosity Power System I found a web page that said it uses Plutonium. I am sure it's not based on fusion or fission. What is the basic idea on which the power ...
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0answers
84 views

scaling laws for density and temperature of high-energy explosions

I'm wondering if there are heuristic ways to derive how the peak density and temperature of nuclear explosions scale with the amount of fissile/fusible material. Does it matter what the explosion ...
5
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1answer
767 views

Nuclear fuel pellets - when does the chain reaction start?

Questions about nuclear fuel: Does nuclear chain reaction start in fuel pellets even before they being installed in reactor? If not, why not? My understanding is that since the fuel pellets are ...
16
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2answers
477 views

Is there a sound theoretical argument against inner-shell induced nuclear chain reactions?

There is a claim often made about cold fusion, that it is excluded theoretically. The main theoretical argument is that electronic energies are too low to overcome the Coulomb barrier, since d-d ...
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2answers
86 views

critical density to create macroscopic nuggets of nuclear matter

Is there a critical size that an hydrogen bomb detonation needs to have in order to produce neutron-degenerated matter? Does anyone knows if matter in this state would be stable at ambient ...
2
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1answer
70 views

Boiling water reactor

What are the typical power densities in conventional boiling water nuclear reactor per cubic centimeter of fission material?
2
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2answers
802 views

Nuclear reactor control rods

What is the relation between control rods surface exposed into a nuclear reactor and neutron energy? Is it linear? I mean, how do neutron absorbing rate change with the progressive immersion of ...
3
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4answers
315 views

Why was PACER abandoned?

The PACER project is described in this question: How much of the energy from 1 megaton H Bomb explosion could we capture to do useful work? Why was it abandoned? It seems that it is the only readily ...
2
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2answers
457 views

Russian Doll Teller Ulam?

Can you trigger a thermonuclear explosion from a smaller thermonuclear explosion in a scaling way, so that starting from a small laser ignited fusion within a small fissile container, using the X-rays ...
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2answers
3k views

How would a black hole power plant work?

A black hole power plant (BHPP) is something I'll define here as a machine that uses a black hole to convert mass into energy for useful work. As such, it constitutes the 3rd kind of matter-energy ...
37
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8answers
12k views

What practical issues remain for the adoption of Thorium reactors?

From what I've read on thorium reactors, there's enormous benefit to them. Their fuel is abundant enough to power human civilization for centuries, their fission products are relatively short-lived, ...
3
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2answers
968 views

Is the E-cat for real?

Does this thing really do what they say? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhvD4KuAEmo If it does, it looks like this will probably be the biggest breaktrough in science ever :)
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4answers
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What is the minimum amount of fissile mass required to acheive criticality?

Wikipedia gives the following definition for critical mass. A critical mass is the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction. No mention is made of a ...
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2answers
229 views

Is it viable to convert nuclear waste into safe isotopes?

I read that powerful pulsed lasers can change isotopes: J. Magill, et. al.: "Laser transmutation of iodine-129". Did anyone estimate what would be the energy costs to transmutate 1 kg of fission ...
2
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0answers
222 views

How viable is reuse of nuclear waste at this point, and what are future prospects? [closed]

I keep seeing documentaries describing the pile-up of nuclear waste from nuclear power stations in the US and in other countries. Countries such as Finland are working to deposit waste in old mines in ...
3
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4answers
336 views

Is a Rubbia thorium reactor safer than other modern reactor types?

I keep wondering how a Rubbia thorium reactor would handle a natural disaster of Fukushima level intensity. As I understand it the nuclear chain reaction would stop instantly if the power is cut, but ...
23
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8answers
4k views

Why don't modern spacecraft use nuclear power?

The Voyager 1 & 2 spacecraft launched in 1977 with Plutonium as their source of electricity. 34 years later they claim these two spacecraft have enough power to last them until at least 2020. That ...
2
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3answers
424 views

Nuclear physics problem, Why do we use high weight atomic elements?

So as far as I know, nuclear fission uses high weight atomic elements to manufacture power. If the risk of runaway reactions are a major reason for not expanding this technology, why don't we use ...
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0answers
210 views

How big is a nuclear reactor pressure vessel? [closed]

With all the sudden discussion related to Nuclear power, safety, fuel, waste, etc, there's one question whose answer has so far eluded me. How big (height and diameter) is the actual pressure vessel ...
4
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6answers
712 views

Is there any inherent danger in operating a Thermonuclear Reactor?

Nuclear fusion research appears to promise sustainable, practically unlimited energy, and according to ITER it will be a perfectly safe, non-polluting source of energy. My question is if there are ...
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3answers
4k views

Why build nuclear reactors on shorelines?

While not directly a physics question, I can't think of forum better capable of answering my question. In discussions over Japan's nuclear reactor situation the observation was made that reactors ...
8
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6answers
2k views

Why does nuclear fuel not form a critical mass in the course of a meltdown?

A BWR reactor core may contain up to 146 tons of uranium. Why does it not form a critical mass when molten? Are there any estimates of the critical mass of the resulting zirconium alloy, steel, ...
0
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1answer
822 views

Conceptual problems in nuclear physics for students?

Is there any good reference for conceptual problems for students which learn nuclear physics first time? I am not searching problems that involve difficult calculations. Quite the converse, they ...
2
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2answers
505 views

If there is a meltdown at the Fukushima reactors, would the control rods melt also?

According to the reports, the shutdown procedures at all the Fukushima reactors were successful, and all the control rods were fully inserted. So - if there was a meltdown, would the control rods ...
2
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1answer
561 views

Why did the Hydrogen in Fukushima explode *outside* the reactor vessel?

As pointed out before, it orginated inside the reactor vessel but exploded outside: how did it get there? Did it pass the shell by diffusion or was it released by the engineers?
3
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2answers
380 views

How much radiation exposure in the US was caused by the 105 nuke tests in the Pacific?

Between 1947 and 1962 the US conducted 105 tests of nuclear weapons in the "Pacific Proving Grounds". I'm wondering how much radiation exposure resulted on the west coast of the US. These were part of ...
4
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3answers
605 views

What is generating the hydrogen that has exploded in the Fukushima reactor?

The explosions at the Fukushima nuclear reactors were caused by a build of hydrogen. I was wondering where this hydrogen came from. This question Fukushima - Isn't the hydrogen presence a proof ...
2
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1answer
301 views

Fukushima - Isn't the hydrogen presence a proof of meltdown?

As I understand, the hydrogen is produced by water thermolysis, which need quite high temperature. This temperature is close to previously observed corium temperatures. So: Is the eutectic ...
3
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10answers
2k views

Can a nuclear reactor meltdown be contained with molten lead?

If lead can absorb or block radiation, would it be possible to pump molten lead into a reactor core which is melting, so that it would eventually cool and contain the radiation? Is there something ...
11
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3answers
3k views

Why didn't the control rods in Fukushima shut down the reactor?

With all the hubbub over the reactors in Japan and nuclear safety, I was wondering why the insertion of the control rods in Fukushima did not shut down the reactor? Shouldn't they slow the fission ...
3
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1answer
217 views

How is it possible to calculate the energy liberated by a given fission process?

How is it possible to calculate the energy liberated by a given fission process? For example, in the fission of a $^{235}$U induced by capturing a neutron?