Everything in the universe is made from small units called atoms. These atoms are made from smaller particles called electrons, protons and neutrons. Radiation is released from atoms when protons are released from an unstable atom. An example of this is when enriched uranium loses 3 protons and changes from U238 to U235When these high energy particles hit an atom, they can cause fission, which is the splitting of an atom. This is how the atomic bomb works. The energy we can get from a nuclear power plant is gained from the radioactive materials that are being used to boil water. Japan's Nuclear ReactorThis reactor has a steel containment vessel to hold the water. The main fear is that if the vessel runs dry, the core rods will melt. This is called a nuclear meltdown. If the vessel holds the material, there will be no radiation leak, however if the vessel breaks, the radioactive water will contaminate the soils, seas, and groundwater. The animals and plants that depend on this water will filter the radiation and pass it up the food chain.
- Summer '08