The Topic:
Nuclear Age

This 42eXplore project from eduScapes includes two additional companion locations. So don't miss visiting (1) Nuclear Events, Incidents & Disasters and (2) Biographies of the Nuclear Age. Those supplementary webpages house hundreds of informational resource sites that are directly related to the topic. If you don't find what you are looking for here, then explore some more at the above locations.
Easier - The nuclear age began with the identification of the nucleus or nuclei of a cell and the discovery of large amounts energy released by the splitting of atoms. Nuclear science has led to the atomic bomb, nuclear power, x-rays, and radiation therapy.
Harder - The nuclear age began around 1900 with the discovery of radioactivity and the nucleus. It continued with examinations of the properties, structure, and reactions of atomic nuclei. The nucleus contains two kinds of particles, neutrons and protons, and makeup over 99.9 percent of an atom's mass. Protons have a positive electrical charge, and neutrons have none. The number of protons determines the chemical element of an atom, while the number of neutrons determine the isotope of that element that it represents. Neutrons and protons are bound and packed together into a nuclei at extremely high density. All nuclei of any element have the same high density. The force or strong interaction holding nuclei together is called nuclear force.
Most of the information about atomic nuclei has been gained by study of nuclear reactions. Particle accelerators are used to create a tiny beam of protons, electrons, or other particles and elevate their speed to near the speed of light. The particles are then directed to strike a target nucleus, causing a reaction. Scientists then use high-precision tools to analyze the emitted radiation. Nuclear reactions can involve the fission (splitting) of very heavy nuclei or the fusion (combining) of two very light nuclei. Both fission and fusion reactions release large amounts of energy. For most purposes, the energy is controlled to release in a slow, safe pattern.
Nuclear reactions have been utilized in nuclear weapons and power generation. Research in nuclear physics has also led to use of radioisotopes and new techniques for diagnosing and treating disease, sterilizing and preserving food, and exploring for oil.
ABC's of Nuclear Science from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Here you can learn about basic nuclear science and radioactivity. The site includes experiments, a glossary of terms, and safety information.
Other Related Websites:
2) Lessons on Nuclear Physics from Physics Zone http://www.sciencejoywagon.com/physicszone/lesson/12nuclear/default.htm
3) Nuclear Chemistry by A. Carpi from Visionlearning
4) Nuclear Energy - Fission and Fusion from The Energy Story http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter13.html
5) Nuclear Physics by C.R. Nave, Georgia State University, at HyperPhysics
6) Nuclear Chemistry Lessons from Chem Zone
Fifty Years From Trinity from the The Seattle Times
Here is a chronicle of the nuclear age. The focus is nuclear weapons, not power, beginning with the first atom bomb test in Trinity, New Mexico.
Related Websites:
2) Atomic Archive from AJ Software & Multimedia http://www.atomicarchive.com/
3) Race to Build the Atomic Bomb by D. Prouty, Contra Costa County Office of Education
4) Trinity: 50 Years Later - The Nuclear Age's Blinding Dawn from Albuquerque Journal
How Nuclear Radiation Works (Part 1 of 4) by M. Brain from HowStuffWorks
Nuclear radiation can be both extremely beneficial and extremely dangerous. It just depends on how we use it.
Related Website from HowStuffWorks:
2) How Nuclear Power Works (Part 1 of 3) by M. Brain
Nuclear Reaction: Why Do Americans Fear Nuclear Power? from PBS Frontline
Here you find readings on the issue of nuclear power, such as how it works and why Americans fear it, plus lots more.
Related Websites:
2) Economics of Nuclear Power http://www.uic.com.au/nip08.htm
3) Frequently Asked Questions About Nuclear Energy by J. McCarthy
4) Nuclear Energy from Tennessee Valley Authority http://www.tva.gov/power/nuclear.htm
5) Nuclear Now http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/nuclearnow.html
6) Nuclear Power http://www.geocities.com/nigson0690/
7) Nuclear Power: A Clean, Safe Alternative by J. Schrock
8) Nuclear Power Industry: A Brief Review http://www.btinternet.com/~mike.ferris/nuclear.htm
9) Return of Nuclear Power By H. Rizvi from Tierra America
10) Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors from Uranium Information Centre http://www.uic.com.au/nip14.htm
11) Questions and Answers about Nuclear Energy from Univ. of Missouri-Rolla American Nuclear Society http://nova.nuc.umr.edu/~ans/QA.html
After visiting several of the websites, complete one or more of the following activities:
Stop A Meltdown! The control-room operators of the Kärnobyl nuclear power plant are telecommuting and are running the plant through the Web. Go to the online simulation at Control The Nuclear Power Plant (Demonstration) by H. Eriksson. Start by reading the instructions, then try to keep the reactor stable when component failures occur!
Take A Nuclear Quiz. Test your knowledge of nuclear energy at Quiz: About the Nuclear Industry from the World Nuclear Association.
Complete A Nuclear WebQuest. Adapt or follow the instructions to one of the following webQuests.
1) Debate Over the Atomic Bomb by T. Hudson http://www.yazoocity.k12.ms.us/highschool/USHistory/a_bomb/
2) Nuclear Chemistry WebQuest by B. Phelps
3) Nuclear Power WebQuest http://www.bonduel.k12.wi.us/sdob_pages/instruction_res/webfolios/nuclear_power/
Drop the Bomb Alternatives. Half a century later, people still debate the U.S.'s bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Research the events connected to the A-bomb use. Then imagine the best alternative scenarios. What would have probably occurred if the atomic bomb had not been detonated? Present your alternative history and summarize its affects on the cold war, international relations, and nuclear history.
Debate Nuclear Power. Examine the ongoing debate over nuclear power. Consider issues including the demand for energy, nuclear waste, safety and operation, sustainable resources, viable alternative power sources, and the proliferation of nuclear materials. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of both sides - for and against continued and expanded nuclear power. Then decide which side you support and detail the arguments and support for your decision.
Create A Nuclear Poster. First identify the message content or aim for the poster; disarmament, safety, nuclear energy, nuclear defense, or other nuclear concerns. Then create an eye-catching poster that packs the message to its viewers. Display your finished work.
Campaign For A Nuclear Hero. Select a person in nuclear history whom you admire. Research your choice and then create a multimedia presentation that nominates them as "Nuclear Person of the Year." You may find some help at a companion 42eXplore website, Biographies of the Nuclear Age from eduScapes.
Write About A Nuclear Event. Pick a specific time or short time-period in nuclear history and imagine that you are a key figure in the events. This is your chance to be a nuclear scientist, a historic person, and to imagine the experiences of a different time and place. Write a journal that details your feelings about what your character is involved in and experiencing.
Create A Nuclear History Mural. Use the artwork to depict the major events and contributions of nuclear history. Make it a visual timeline. Make your mural colorful and attractive but be sure that it is accurate and illustrates the relationships between events, discoveries, and developments.
Websites By Kids For Kids
Atomic Incidents from Father Ryan High School
This project was created to promote awareness about nuclear power, weapons, and the terrifying aftermath of nuclear incidents.
More Websites
American Nuclear Society
This organization focuses on nuclear science and technology including medicine, nuclear energy, food irradiation, and nuclear techniques used in manufacturing and processing industries.
Related Websites:
2) Canadian Nuclear Society http://www.cns-snc.ca/
3) OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (France) http://www.nea.fr/
4) University of Missouri-Rolla Student Chapter of the American Nuclear Society
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists from Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science (EFNS)
Well-known for its "doomsday clock", the mission of the EFNS is to educate citizens about global security issues, especially the continuing dangers posed by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and about the appropriate roles of nuclear technology.
Not-To-Be-Missed Section:
2) Early Years of the Bomb http://www.thebulletin.org/research/collections/erlyearsofbmb.html
Bureau of Atomic Tourism
This site links to locations of atomic explosions and display exhibits on the development of atomic devices or that contain vehicles that were designed to deliver atomic weapons.
Chronological Table of Nuclear Weapon from Tokyo Physicians for Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
Here charts chronicle the development and history of the nuclear bomb from the 1700s to 1997.
Fast Attacks & Boomers from National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Discover how nuclear powered submarines were built, operated and used during the Cold War.
Focus on Fusion
This site promotes the potential of an almost limitless source of energy for future generations, but it also presents some formidable scientific and engineering challenges.
How Nuclear Medicine Works (Part 1 of 8) by C.C. Freudenrich from HowStuffWorks
This site explains some of the techniques and terms used in nuclear medicine. You'll learn how radiation helps doctors see deeper inside the human body than they ever could.
Related Websites:
2) Radioactivity, Isotopes and Radioisotopes from Nature, Nuclear Reactors and Cyclotrons for Use in Nuclear Medicine from Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) http://www.ansto.gov.au/info/reports/radboyd.html
3) Society of Nuclear Medicine http://www.snm.org/
How Radon Works (Part 1 of 5) by M. Brain and C. Freudenrich from HowStuffWorks
Radon gas is completely natural. It forms during the decay of the element uranium-238. Radon gas is radioactive, and in tightly insulated houses it can accumulate to concentrations that pose a health threat.
International Atomic Energy Agency
IAEA is an independent intergovernmental, science and technology-based organization, in the United Nations family, that serves as the global focal point for nuclear cooperation.
Nuclear Age Timeline from U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Environmental Management
This historical timeline traces the nuclear age from (1895-1993) the discovery of x-rays and radioactivity to the explosion of the first atomic bomb through the cold war to its thaw to the cleanup of the nuclear weapons complex.
Nuclear Control Institute
The NCI is an anti-proliferation group formed by scholars. The site contributes to the debate over reprocessing and whether it really increases risk of spreading plutonium and proliferation.
Nuclear Energy Institute
This site provides nuclear facts and quotes, environmental preservation information and details about careers and education in nuclear energy.
Nuclear Files from Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Explore political and ethical dilemmas of the Nuclear Age.
Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS)
This information and networking center is for citizens and environmental organizations concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation, and sustainable energy issues.
Other Antinuclear Websites:
2) Background Briefing on Radioactive Pollution http://www.coopcomm.org/nonukes/metatoc.htm
3) Citizens Alert (Nevada) http://www.citizenalert.org/
4) Nuclear Campaign Overview from Greenpeace International http://www.greenpeace.org/campaigns/intro?campaign_id=3940
5) Opponents of Nuclear Power (Links-site) http://pw1.netcom.com/~res95/energy/nuclear/opposed.html
6) Pathways to Destruction from Greenpeace International http://archive.greenpeace.org/~nuclear/pathways.html
7) Sustainable Energy and Anti-Uranium Service (SEA-US) http://www.sea-us.org.au/index.html
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
This government group regulates U.S. commercial nuclear power plants and the civilian use of nuclear materials.
Related Websites:
2) Nuclear Safety Directorate (United Kingdom) http://www.hse.gov.uk/nsd/index.htm
3) Office of Nuclear Energy, Science & Technology, U.S. Department of Energy
Nuclear Weapons from Union of Concerned Scientists
This organization employs analysis, policy initiatives and public education to help bring about a world free of nuclear arms.
Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management from U.S. Department of Energy
This government program is assigned to develop and manage a federal system for disposing of spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear reactors and high-level radioactive waste from national defense activities.
Related Websites:
2) Depleted Uranium Information from Defense Technical Information Ctr., U.S. Dept. of
Defense http://www.deploymentlink.osd.mil/du_library/
3) Nuclear Waste: No Way Out? by M. Llanos from MSNBC http://www.msnbc.com/news/755772.asp
4) Nuclear Waste Transportation Routes http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/states/us.htm
5) Storing Nuclear Waste from Learners Online http://www.learnersonline.com/weekly/lessons02/nuke_waste/
6) USDOE Addresses Environmental Legacy of Nuclear Weapons Production by J.L. Roeder
7) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) from U.S. Department of Energy
Plutonium Investigation
This site focuses on plutonium proliferation in Europe, Japan, and the USA . . includes maps of facilities by country, graphs on electricity generation by fuel source, back issues of their newsletter, current news articles, and more.
Secrets, Lies, and Atomic Spies from PBS NOVA
This program chronicles the lives and covert activities of the so-called "atom spies" in the 1940's, including the big one that got away, Theodore Alvin Hall.
Related Websites:
2) Bombshell Atomic Espionage Website http://www.bombshell-1.com/index.html
3) Historians, Physicists Mobilize to Refute Spy Stories from American Institute of Physics
Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water (1963)
Read this landmark 1963 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union that prohibited nuclear testing in outer space and under water.
Uranium Information Centre (Melbourne, Australia)
This site focuses on information about nuclear energy for electricity and the uranium for it.
Virtual Nuclear Tourist by J. Gonyeau
This website provides basic information about the different types of nuclear power plants and their principle of operation.
What You Need to Know About Radiation by L.S. Taylor
This is a good overview of radiation and what you should know to protect yourself, your family, and make reasonable social and political choices.
Related Sections:
2) Radiation and Life http://www.uic.com.au/ral.htm
3) Radiation Information Network http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/
4) Radiation Related Frequently Asked Questions http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/qanda.htm
Related Websites:
5) Little Lesson on Radioactivity http://www.no-nukes.org/prairieisland/lesson.html
6) Radiation Leak from Learners Online http://www.learnersonline.com/weekly/archive99/week39/index.htm
7) Radioactivity is 100 Years Old http://wwwlapp.in2p3.fr/neutrinos/centenaire/rada.html
World Nuclear Association
This is the website of the global industrial organization that seeks to promote the peaceful worldwide use of nuclear power as a sustainable energy resource for the coming centuries.
Not-To-Be-Missed Sections:
2) Articles and Opinions http://www.world-nuclear.org/opinion/opinion.htm
3) Information and Issue Briefs http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/info.htm
4) Introduction to Nuclear Energy http://www.world-nuclear.org/education/education.htm
A-Bomb Museum
The website is neither meant to condemn nor condone the bombing, but is meant as a way for people to express their views on how to achieve peace, on what peace is, and other thoughts about peace.
Bradbury Science Museum (Los Alamos, NM) operated by Univ. of California for National Nuclear Security Administration of the US Department of Energy
The museum's primary mission is to interpret Laboratory research, activities, and history.
National Atomic Museum Virtual Tour (Albuquerque, NM)
The goal of the museum is to provide a readily accessible repository of educational materials and information reflecting the Atomic Age, and to preserve, interpret, and exhibit to the public memorabilia of this Age.
Websites For Teachers
Building a Historical Perspective of the Nuclear World from Los Alamos National Laboratory
Before students can make decisions regarding the futures of nuclear things, they must be well versed in what led to our present situation and confrontations. During this semester course, students will develop a historical perspective of how the world arrived at this point in time regarding nuclear science.
Other Curriculum Materials from LANL:
2) Future of a Nuclear World http://set.lanl.gov/programs/cif/Curriculum/Future/futrmain.htm
3) Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation vs. Nonproliferation from Los Alamos National Laboratory
4) Storage and Disposition of Radioactive Materials http://set.lanl.gov/programs/cif/Curriculum/Storage/stormain.htm
Fallout from Chornobyl (Grades 9-12) from National Geographic
Students will read and analyze several articles describing consequences of the 1986 explosion and fire at a nuclear power plant in Chornobyl, Ukraine. They will then create a map showing which countries were affected by this disaster and how they were affected.
Low-level Nuclear Waste: A Geographic Analysis (Grade 9-12) from National Geographic
Students will learn how to analyze the problems surrounding nuclear waste and to make decisions concerning it.
Manhattan Project
The events surrounding the invention and use of two atomic weapons by the United States on Japan during WWII are among the most controversial and significant developments in modern American history. For this reason, the topic provides a superb lesson for exploring the role of technology in society.
Nuclear Reactors
This lesson (partial lesson at site) examines the application of the fission process to nuclear reactors. It focuses on light water reactors (LWRs), the type used in the United States for electrical power production.
Nuclear World
This lesson has learners examine the reasons for and against nuclear arms escalation, describe the climate of fear surrounding nuclear confrontation, and examine the emotions elicited by the thought of nuclear confrontation.
Related Lesson Plan:
2) Cold War and Beyond (Grades 9-12) by J. Lamb from Discovery School
One Step Closer to a Treaty (Grades 6-12) by A. Zimbalist & L. Driggs from The New York Times
This lesson plan is designed to allow students to speak objectively about the nuclear disarmament issue and to interpret sections of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Related Lesson Plans from The New York Times:
2) Balance of (Nuclear) Power (Grades 6-12) by D. Lerman & J. Khan
3) Defense Mechanisms (Grades 6-12) by A. Hambouz & J. Khan
4) Explosive Knowledge (Grades 6-12) by A. Zimbalist & L. Driggs
5) Nuclear Reactions (Grades 6-12) by M. Sale & T.Y. Chin
6) Surrounded by Radiation (Grades 6-12) by G. Scurletis & A. Perelman
7) There Must Be Something in the Water (Grades 6-12) by B. Holmes Scott
Radiation Protection: How Much Is Enough (Grades 10-12) by R. Trei & F. Brown
The objective of this laboratory exercise is to study the effects of shielding on the amount of detectable radioactivity from a gamma source.
Related Lessons:
2) Radioactivity (Grades 6-8) by K. Dugger & L.A. Parks
3) Surviving a Cosmic Invasion (Grades 6-8) by J. Bartholomew
Submarines: Underway on Nuclear Power (Grades 9-12) from National Geographic
This lesson introduces students to the role of nuclear submarines during the Cold War. Students will explore the uses of nuclear submarines, the dangers faced by their crews, and the legacy left to their generation by the Cold War buildup.
What Is A "Dirty" Bomb? (Grades 6-10) from PBS NewsHour
In this lesson, students determine what identifies a bomb as a "dirty" bomb, identify threats and responses specific to "dirty" bombs, examine government and medical preparedness for dealing with "dirty" bombs, and survey members of the community for their understanding.
What's Wrong With Nuclear Power, Anyway? (Grades 6-9) by by M.C. Phelps-Borrowman
For many years now, the production and use of nuclear energy has been both praised and condemned as a source of electrical power for our daily living. This lesson will give students the opportunity to find out the reasons for the conflict of opinions in our society.
nuclear energy
atomic explosion
chain reaction
Geiger counter
gamma ray
"Cold War"
nuclear generating station
radioactive decay
atomic bomb
carbon-14 dating
atomic structure
spent fuel
quantum mechanics
Curie (Ci)
Atomic Energy Commission
depleted uranium
beta ray
spent fuel
nuclear medicine
thermonuclear weapon
Manhattan Project
alpha particle
radioactive waste
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 1/03.