Basic Nuclear Physics

This is the beginning of the ‘Basic Nuclear Physics’ workshop. The workshop is not designed to make you a nuclear physicist or help you with your physics GCSE. However, it should give you a basic working model of what matter is and how radioactivity arises as well as what nuclear fission and fusion are.

There are plenty of resources available on the internet. Wikipedia is a good place to start if you want to find and I have put a link to the relevant wikipages at the end of each section. The main aim of this workshop is enable to make sense of these resources by giving you an overview of the subject.

This is not a rant against nuclear power and I concentrate mainly on the physics associated with current nuclear power plants – i.e. not subcritical reactors etc. Neither have I gone into the risks associated with radioactivity since I will need to talk about risk and probability before going into this subject.

  1. Introduction
  2. The Structure of Matter
  3. What Is Radiation
  4. Proton to Neutron Ratios and the Stability of Nuclei – Beta Radiation
  5. Atomic Mass and Stability – Alpha Decay
  6. Very Heavy Atoms – Fission
  7. Neutron Capture
  8. Moderation
  9. Gamma Radiation
  10. Rates of Decay
  11. About Uranium
  12. Nuclear Fusion




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