Atomic Man

Nuclear Chemistry and the Community

Dr. Frank Settle

A look back confirms that discoveries in nuclear chemistry and physics were the most important technical developments of the 20 th century.  The opportunities and questions that arise from nuclear energy and nuclear weapons are the primary legacy of these great inventions of the past.

In this unit we link the basic concepts of nuclear chemistry. We begin with Chadwick's discovery of the neutron and the rapid elucidation of the decay and fission of the heavy element atoms. From this science comes the realization that the energy produced can be used for weapons - a thought that crystallizes just as world war seems imminent in 1939. Finally, we describe the chemistry of the heavy elements and show how isolation of uranium isotopes and the discovery and isolation of the synthetic element plutonium leads to weapons in the hands of the Allies and ends World War II. 

We are left with the legacy of radiation and the fear of contamination, of only partial success in the generation of nuclear power, of widespread medical uses of radioisotopes and with the worldwide question, as yet unsolved as we race through the new millennium, of what we should do with nuclear byproducts.

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Kennesaw State University ©2005 Kennesaw State University
Principal Investigator Laurence Peterson
Project Director Matthew Hermes
Grant #9652889
This project is part of the National Science Digital Library funded by the Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation Grant
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