Nuclear physics is the branch of physics that deals with atomic nuclei, their constituents, and interactions. Nuclear physics comprises the study of the general properties of nuclei, interactions between the nuclear particles, radioactivity, and nuclear reactions. The discoveries in Nuclear physics have led to many applications like nuclear power, nuclear medicine, agricultural and industrial isotopes, radiocarbon dating, magnetic resonance imaging, and nuclear weapons.
The history of nuclear physics starts with the discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel in 1896. The radioactivity was extensively investigated by Pierre Curie, Marie Curie, Ernest Rutherford, and others. Then three types of radiations from atoms, alpha, beta, gamma were discovered. The 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to Becquerel, for his discovery and to Marie and Pierre Curie for their subsequent research into radioactivity. Rutherford was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 for his 'investigations into the disintegration of the elements and the chemistry of radioactive substances'.
Nuclear fission of heavy elements was discovered on December 17, 1938, by German Scientists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann. It explained theoretically in January 1939 by Lise Meitner and Otto Robert Frisch. Arthur Eddington anticipated the discovery and mechanism of nuclear fusion processes in stars. In 1920, Arthur Eddington suggested hydrogen-helium fusion could be the primary source of stellar energy, at that time, the source of stellar energy was a complete mystery.
Nuclear power is the proper use of nuclear reactions to release nuclear energy to generate heat, that is used to work steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power plant. Nuclear medicine is the medical application of radioactive substances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body. Radiocarbon dating is a method for determining the age of an ancient object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon. In a nuclear weapon like in a nuclear bomb that used the destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or fusion. These bombs can release large quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of the matter!
Join the Nuclear Physics classroom to learn the fundamental of the nucleus and to know how these techniques are working.
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