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Nuclear Fusion

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Harnessing Nuclear Energy

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You are probably aware of the detrimental effects that nuclear reactions can have in warfare and in power plant accidents, but despite these drawbacks, nuclear energy is an energy source that would prove very beneficial if we can fully harness it.

There are two types of main nuclear processes that are used to produce energy: fission and fusion.

Nuclear fission occurs when a neutron collides with the nucleus of an atom, creating two isotopes. Some of the original mass from the atom is converted into energy as described by Einstein's famous equation. What is this equation?

What circumstances are necessary for a nuclear fission reaction to occur?

What are some drawbacks to producing energy via fission?

Nuclear fusion is the process in which two isotopes are combined into a larger isotope. Energy is released during the collision.

What circumstances are necessary for fusion to occur?

What about fusion makes it a subject of heavy research today? (Hint: Think about what benefits fusion has over fission).

For guidance in answering these questions or for more information about fusion and fission, check out the links embedded above.

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