Difference between revisions of "Nuclear fusion"

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'''Nuclear fusion''' is the process by which two or more nuclei fuse to make a larger nucleus.<ref>Wile, Dr. Jay L. ''Exploring Creation With Physical Science''. Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. 1999, 2000</ref> The successful fusion of two nuclei releases large amounts of [[energy]], but to start the reactions large amounts of energy must be input to overcome the repulsive electrostatic forces.
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In chemistry and physics, '''Nuclear fusion''' is the reaction by which two or more nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus, albeit one that is lighter than the sum of the constituent nuclei. The missing mass is converted to energy as per the famous <math>E=\frac{m}{c^2}</math> formula.
  
In the center of most stars, hydrogen fuses together to form helium. Fusion in stars releases so much heat that the process alone keeps their mass from collapsing in on itself due to [[gravity]]. It is the reason that stars are so stable as well. If the core of a star starts to collapse, more fusion reactions occur and it expands again from the heat. If the core expands too far, less fusion reactions occur and it collapses back down.
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The fusion of nuclei lighter than iron, which has the highest binding energy alongside nickel, releases more energy than was used to start the process, while fusion of post-iron elements requires more energy than is released.
  
Scientists here on earth are trying to make nuclear fusion in the laboratory a useful energy source. One example is the European Toroidal Reactor near Cambridge in England. If successful fusion would supply a vast amount of clean energy, as the fuel would be derived from seawater and the by-product would be helium. Uncontrolled fusion causes thermonuclear explosions, which are used in the [[hydrogen bomb]].  
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Fusion occurs naturally in stars, where the process is started by gravitational contraction and the resulting heating. Once a threshold is reached in mass (roughly {{convert|0.08|solar mass|kg|abbr=on}}), a proton-proton reaction starts, due to the core reaching temperatures in excess of ten million Kelvins, and quickly becomes self-sustaining due to gravitational confinement.
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Nuclear fusion was first observed by Mark Oliphant in 1932, building on experiments in nuclear transmutation by Ernest Rutherford. Currently, nuclear fusion is under research as an alternative energy source, with leading experiments in Europe.
  
== Sources ==
 
[http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/lib/glossary.html#fusion APOD Glossary]
 
  
 
==See Also ==
 
==See Also ==

Revision as of 14:39, 14 June 2010

In chemistry and physics, Nuclear fusion is the reaction by which two or more nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus, albeit one that is lighter than the sum of the constituent nuclei. The missing mass is converted to energy as per the famous formula.

The fusion of nuclei lighter than iron, which has the highest binding energy alongside nickel, releases more energy than was used to start the process, while fusion of post-iron elements requires more energy than is released.

Fusion occurs naturally in stars, where the process is started by gravitational contraction and the resulting heating. Once a threshold is reached in mass (roughly Template:Convert), a proton-proton reaction starts, due to the core reaching temperatures in excess of ten million Kelvins, and quickly becomes self-sustaining due to gravitational confinement.

Nuclear fusion was first observed by Mark Oliphant in 1932, building on experiments in nuclear transmutation by Ernest Rutherford. Currently, nuclear fusion is under research as an alternative energy source, with leading experiments in Europe.


See Also

Nuclear fission

References