March, 2012

What Is Radiation

Radiation is just the term for something that can travel through empty space. It could be a particle or a wave. There are many different sorts. However, we can make a distinction between radiation that does not have the energy to break chemical bonds (called non-ionising) and those that can break chemical bonds (called ionising). […]

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The Structure Of Matter

Before we go any further we have to understand what makes up the matter around us – the computer in front of me, the air around us and even ourselves. We are all made up of atoms. The word atom means “indivisible” or “that which cannot be split”. You don’t really want to be saying […]

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Introduction

Before we start on the subject of nuclear physics there are a few fundamentals that we have to understand: Energy Without energy nothing would happen. For example energy is needed to make things move and to make chemical reactions happen. I am not going to tell you what energy is because it is rather a […]

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Probability and Significance

We often see things that say “No Link Between Cancer and Nuclear Plants” or nuclear power is safe. One of the reasons for this is the failure to understand the results of various studies or even gross misrepresentation of the results. This is just a basic information about probability and the statistical significance of some […]

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What is a Watt?

Energy and Power A lot of people get confused about the difference betwen energy and power. Power is the amount of energy per unit time. Since the proper unit of energy is the joule (J) then the unit of power is joules per second (j/s). This is called the watt(W). However, many other units are […]

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Wind vs Nuclear

This graph shows the capacity installed per year for nuclear power verses wind power. The installed capacity is not necessarily the actual power produced since none of them work 100% of the time. Despite this it is easy to see that wind is growing and nuclear is dieing. What industry would you invest in? The […]

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Exponents, Powers of Ten and Logs

You may have come here just to find out about unit prefixes – Mega, Giga, milli etc. However, it is a good idea to understand how to multiply and divide exponents as well so the first bit is worth reading. Notation In physics we often come across quantities that are multiplied by itself. For example […]

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Basic Dimensional Analysis

I think this is often counted as an advanced topic but it is really useful so I shall go through it here. All physical formulas have to be consistent in units. For example if we have Force = Mass times Acceleration (F = ma) then the units of force must be Kg m sec-2 which […]

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Units

Units Most physical quantities have units. Often they have more than one unit. For example the unit for distance is metre although it can also be measured in kilometres, inches, furlongs etc. A measurement without a unit is meaningless – the length of a piece of string is always 10! There are a standard set […]

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What Is A Sievert?

Background A Sievert is an attempt to quantify the danger of various radioactivity levels. Ionising radiation is measured in counts per second (called a becquerel). For example if a detector picks up 10 bits of ionising radiation every second then this is 10 becquerel. However, different types of radiation have different effects on the body. […]

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