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Inverse Variation Models

Identify and solve y=k/x form equations

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Laws of Attraction

Credit: Laura Guerin
Source: CK-12 Foundation
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Opposite electric charges attract (and like charges repel), so how do atoms work? In the nucleus of an atom, positively charged protons are stuck together. As it turns out, the strong nuclear force that holds atoms together is stronger than the electric forces that threaten to tear them apart. When scientists overcome this force, they are able to release enormous amounts of energy.

Smashing Atoms

The strong nuclear force varies inversely with distance, which means that it has a very strong hold on particles that are very close together. However, it fades quickly as the distance between particles grows. In a nuclear reaction, a fast-moving neutron hits the nucleus of an atom, deforming the nucleus. The distance created between the two sides of the nucleus is enough to disrupt the strong nuclear force. The electric force dominates instead, and the two halves fly apart because their positive charges repel each other. This collision produces radiation, stray neutrons, heat, and two new atoms. The stray neutrons fly off at high speeds. They hit more atoms and cause more splits. Soon, a chain reaction runs wild.

Credit: Petr Kratochvil
Source: http://www.public-domain-image.com/architecture/tower/slides/cooling-towers-of-a-nuclear-power-station.html
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Nuclear power plants use the heat from these chain reactions to boil water. The steam from the boiling water turns turbines, which generates electricity. Nuclear plants release water vapor into the atmosphere, in contrast to the carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Some scientists believe nuclear power may provide a sustainable, alternative way to generate electricity that would help stem global warming.

See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGj_aJz7cTs

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Laura Guerin; Source: CK-12 Foundation; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Petr Kratochvil; Source: http://www.public-domain-image.com/architecture/tower/slides/cooling-towers-of-a-nuclear-power-station.html; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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