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 huge deal of public concern about its possible implications, and every application of nuclear technology is reviewed with care. Despite the fears that many people have of nuclear energy, it is a very safe energy source.

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 generate electricity.

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The Sun is a natural fusion reactor.
Fusion power is a theoretical form of power generation in which energy will be generated by using nuclear fusion reactions to produce heat for electricity generation. In a fusion process, two lighter atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier nucleus, and at the same time, they release energy. This is the same process that powers stars like our Sun. Devices designed to harness this energy are known as fusion reactors.

Fusion processes require fuel and a highly confined environment with a high temperature and pressure, to create a plasma in which fusion can occur. In stars, the most common fuel is hydrogen, and gravity creates the high temperature and confinement needed for fusion. Fusion reactors generally use hydrogen isotopes such as deuterium and tritium, which react more easily, and create a confined plasma of millions of degrees using inertial methods (laser) or magnetic methods (tokamak and similar), although many other concepts have been attempted. The major challenges in realising fusion power are to engineer a system that can confine the plasma long enough at high enough temperature and density for a long term reaction to occur and, for the most common reactions, managing neutrons that are released during the reaction, which over time can degrade many common materials used within the reaction chamber.


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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, and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences. She 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 physicist Henri Becquerel. She won the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


Nuclear technology news


15 March 2019 – North Korea and weapons of mass destruction, North Korea–United States relations
North Korea has reportedly threatened to suspend negotiations with the United States regarding nuclear weaponry, as well as resume related missile testing. (The New York Times)
1 March 2019 – North Korea–Vietnam relations
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un begins an official visit to Vietnam, three days after arriving in the country for a nuclear summit with U.S. President Donald Trump that ended in deadlock. (The Straits Times)
28 February 2019 – 2019 North Korea–United States Hanoi Summit, North Korea–United States relations
The summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi abruptly ends earlier than scheduled, with the White House saying no deal has been reached in regards to relations between the two countries and North Korea's nuclear weapons policies and sanctions due to them. (NBC News)
26 February 2019 – 2019 Balakot airstrike
The attack is the first time since Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 that the Indian Air Force has crossed and attacked Pakistan beyond the line of control. As well as the first time since both countries have acquired nuclear weapons. (India Today)

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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