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Conservation of Mass and Energy in Nuclear Reactions

When atoms break apart, energy and matter become interchangeable.

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Einstein and Mass Defect

How is Einstein's famous E = MC2 used in nuclear chemistry?

License: CC BY-NC 3.0


Did you know that during nuclear reactions, the end products weigh slightly less?  How is this possible?  The law of conservation of mass claims that mass cannot be created nor destroyed.  Hey, is that you Einstein?  Wow, you’re telling me your formula can be used here?  Which one?  E=MC? Wow you mean that’s actually useful?

Creative Applications

  1. What do the symbols stand for in Einstein’s famous E=MC2 formula?
  2. Using your answer from above, what does this seem to indicate?  What does it say about the relationship of mass and energy?
  3. So where has the tiny mass defect (mass lost) gone?  How does this explain why nuclear energy is popular and efficient?
  4. How could we get this mass defect back?

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  1. [1]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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