How did nuclear elements form and why are they so powerful?

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How did nuclear elements form and why are they so powerful?

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5 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Nuclear elements are powerful because they hold potential energy that can be released through fission (The act of cracking the nucleus apart).

They were formed in super novas, as the incredibly high energy that is produced is enough to fuse matter to high atomic weights.

The super high powered isotopes that we use for nuclear energy and weapons are actually so reactive that they don’t actually last very long. And since it has been a long time since the material was created, the only way for it to still be around, is due to it actually being quite stable.

This stability actually limits its potential energy. This requires us to refine and alter the elements to more unstable elements/isotopes. This makes it easier for us to harness the energy on command.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Stars start off by fusing hydrogen into helium. In doing so, the helium nucleus has slightly less mass than the hydrogen it started with. This missing mass was converted to energy (E=mc^(2))

Eventually, the core starts fusing helium into heavier elements, again turning a small amount of mass to energy.

This process repeats until, eventually, it reaches iron. Iron is the first element that you get less energy out than you put in. That extra energy grts stored as mass. When this happens, the energy output of the star drops and the outer layers of the star collapse in and the slam into the core with so much energy that it makes all of the other elements up to plutonium. (Neptunium and plutonium are only made in trace amounts)

Those elements larger than iron, when you break them apart, they release that extra energy they stored as mass, giving us a massive amount of energy from E=mc^2

Larger elements store more energy, and eventually, they have so much energy that they spontaneously release some along with a particle through radioactive decay. Splitting an atom just releases a ton of it at once.

Anonymous 0 Comments

What do you mean “nuclear” elements? I bet you mean radioactive elements!

Ok, how elements are formed.
The three lightest/simplest elements; hydrogen, helium, and a little bit of lithium were created shortly* after the Big Bang, The “start” of the universe*. Everything else on the periodic table was created via stars. Either in the heart of stars, star explosions, or star collisions.

Touching on radioactive decay.
Some elements aren’t very happy the way they are and they end up changing. This is what we call radioactive decay. Radioactive decay can mean a lot of things in this field, but the easiest to visualize is an Atom / element splitting in half.

Both stellar physics and particle physics are crazy huge fields of study. You could spend your whole life learning about either one and you could still learn new things at the end. I highly recommend you check out some YouTube videos on either topic. Really interesting stuff.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Not a scientist but it’s related to the number of electrons in the outer shell. 

When a supernova happens the energy produced is that high protons overcome their repulsion and are smashed together. At some point in the 18th century it was found out that different elements were just different quantities of protons, neutrons and electrons where protons and electrons are equal in number to form an atom with no electric charge. Bohr (along with a few others) then found out that the way the electrons were configured were in distinct shells of quanta around the nucleus.

Due to the maximum number of electrons found in these shells it was found that there are certain elements with slightly more electrons than what would fit in a shell. As natural processes dictate that full shells are more stable and require less energy to keep the same than none full shells, the atom then wants to get into a stable configuration. 

To do this it emits various particles which are radioactive and over time the element transforms from an unstable one to a more stable one.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Okay, let’s imagine atoms are like tiny LEGO blocks. Some of these LEGO blocks have even tinier parts called “nuclei” inside them.
Now, when certain atoms, like uranium or plutonium, break apart or bump into each other, they release a ton of energy. This energy is super powerful and comes from a process called “nuclear fission.”
Nuclear elements are powerful because they can release this energy, which we can use for things like making electricity or even bombs. But we have to be really careful with nuclear power because it can be dangerous if we don’t handle it properly.