Atomic Enegy

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade May 2001

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An atom is the smallest and most simple particle known to man. Yet the atom contains so much energy that it can destroy cities by splitting a mass of atoms a little larger than a baseball ( Microsoft Encarta "˜98 ) or it can power a nation with a couple of power plants. The atom and its mysteries have been on the mind of scientists and man since Dalton came up with the Atomic Theory in the early 19th century.

To get in perspective the size of the atom and its nucleus here are a few mind boggling facts and comparisons. The diameter of Pluto's orbit is about seven billion miles while the diameter of the sun is nearly a million miles. So the solar system has an external diameter of 7,000 times the diameter of the sun. Comparing the nucleus to the sun and the outermost electron orbitals to Pluto's orbit, the atoms outer most diameter is 10,000 times that of the nucleus.

The volume of the nucleus is one thousandth of a billionth ( .000000000001 ) of the volume of the atom, but the nucleus has all the mass. One cubic inch of pure nuclear material, without any of the external electrons or empty space, would weigh more than a billion tons ( 2,000,000,000,000 pounds )( Wendt, 50). Since the nucleus is so dense to weigh that much, the attractive forces in the nucleus must be tremendous. Splitting an unstable nucleus with a neutron would release an awesome amount of energy, therefore creating the destructive power of the atomic bomb.

In the early morning of August the sixth, 1945, a message was sent to the B-29 Enola Gay, which was carrying the atomic bomb.

The message read, "fair weather, ready for an air raid". The Enola Gay released...