November 1, 2009 Issue

Physics To Go 84 - Nuclear reactor

« Previous issue         Issue Archive         Next issue »

Physics in Your World

Why The French Like Nuclear Energy image
image credit: Creative Commons; image source; larger image

Why The French Like Nuclear Energy

This photo shows the Centrale Nucléaire de Saint-Laurent nuclear power plant.

Nuclear power plants generate 75% of the electricity consumed in France. Read this Frontline article to learn about France's conversion from fossil fuels to nuclear power. For more detailed information about nuclear power in France, see this US News article.

One reason other countries hesitate to adopt nuclear power is the possibility of a serious accident. Learn about the devastating accident at Chernobyl here.

Login to Comment on this Item

Physics at Home

PhET Simulation: Nuclear Fission

Security note:
Once you have clicked on the "simulation" link below, be sure to read the Java Security Advisory before running the simulation: To do that, click the "Read now" button on the yellow band near the top of the PhET page.

Explore nuclear fission through this set of simulations. You can create a chain reaction of uranium isotopes by setting the initial amount of uranium and the position of control rods within a reactor.

(This feature was updated on May 5, 2013.)


From Physics Research

Nuclear Power image
image credit: Reed Research Reactor, Creative Commons; image source; larger image

Nuclear Power

Nuclear reactors create heat through nuclear fission instead of burning fossil fuels. Learn about fission and how nuclear reactors work at Nuclear Power.

Why does the water in a nuclear reactor glow blue? When particles enter water moving faster than the speed of light in water, blue light is produced, like in the picture above. Read more about the mechanism here.

Worth a Look

Basic Nuclear Science Information

There are two types of nuclear reactions: fission and fusion. Fission is used in nuclear power plants; fusion is the reaction process powering the sun. Learn about these processes and more at Basic Nuclear Science Information.

Recent Submissions