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The History of Nuclear Power - Research Paper Example

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The History of Nuclear Power Abstract This paper reviews the invention of nuclear energy and the development of the two concepts of its application, namely the military and civil nuclear power. Three sections, besides the introductory one, expound on the phases in nuclear power invention: the first of them follows the breakthroughs in exploration of the atom; while the second and the third ones trace the development of nuclear science to the discovery of nuclear fission…
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Download file to see previous pages As a general rule, most of these crucial factors actually denote natural phenomena, whether discovered by sheer chance or due to meticulous research, possessing enormous potential for both destruction and creation; while others appear a genuinely human invention. Notwithstanding their origin, however, the way these factors have been mastered and harnessed to humanity’s advantage reflects the very human nature to test, to observe, and to dream (US Department of Energy/US DOE/, n.d.). Having played their crucial part in the development of Egypt’s ancient societies – the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms – the Nile River annual floods could be considered, beyond any doubt, one of the above-mentioned core phenomena; while the institution of slavery in ancient Rome brought about that little-known settlement on the River Tiber to be transformed into the hub of the then world. Without the driving force of spice trade in medieval times, there might have not come about the Age of Discovery, and neither would the Industrial Revolution without the steam engine. In turn, the commercial drilling for petroleum, which had started at some point in the mid-nineteenth century, not only drove the world into the modernity, but also became the mainspring of present-day geopolitics of the world. The late 1890s, however, witnessed the discovery of a natural phenomenon, which have been given the name ‘radioactivity’ by Marie and Pierre Curie, and later defined by Ernest Rutherford as a spontaneous event emitting alpha or beta particles from the atomic nuclei, and creating a different element (World Nuclear Association /WNA/, 2010). The consequent exploration of this phenomenon had involved many scientists from different countries across the world – from Niels Bohr, Frederick Soddy, James Chadwick, and Enrico Fermi, to Otto Frisch, etc. – and produced major breakthroughs, including the discovery of radionuclides and neutron, as well as the experimental conformation of Albert Einstein’s concept of mass-energy equivalence (WNA, 2010). Exploration of the Atom The idea that invisible particles constitute all matter in the universe is being first developed by ancient Greek philosophers (US DOE, n.d.). The name of those particles – atoms – comes from one of the meanings of the Greek word ?????? (atomos), or indivisible (US DOE, n.d.; Liddell and Scott, 1940). This idea reigned supreme at least until the late eighteenth century, but it was not earlier than the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the concept had been revised by scientific experiments (US DOE, n.d.). Following the discovery of Uranium in 1789 by the German chemist Martin Klaproth, who named it after the recently discovered planet Uranus (Herschel and Hoskin, 2003; WNA, 2010), there was a gap of nearly 100 years during which nothing in this field of science was to get excited about. In November 1895, Professor Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen of the Wurzburg University had unintentionally produced “a hitherto unknown form of radiant energy that was invisible, could cause fluorescence, and passed through objects opaque to light”, which he named x-rays (Novelline, 2004); six years later Wilhelm Rontgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of ionizing ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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