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8.01 Half-Life and Radioactive Decay Honors

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Alexis Bailey

on 24 July 2014

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Transcript of 8.01 Half-Life and Radioactive Decay Honors

Uranium is commonly found in Earth's crust and plays a major role in Earth's convection and continental drift. Uranium acts as the leading heat source for the inside of Earth. Also commonly found in rocks, uranium occurs in 2 to 4 parts per million.
What can be done to protect against the radiation produced by this isotope?
People exposed to high levels of uranium are usually caused by any of the following:
Living near a uranium mine
Living near a coal-fired power plant
Drinking water that has a high degree of uranium
Breathing air that has a high degree of uranium
Eating foods grown in soil that has a high degree of uranium
If you are exposed to high levels of radiation, contacting a medical expert immediately is the best thing to do. To prevent from being exposed to high levels, avoid living near uranium mine and near coal fired power plant.
What type of decay does this substance undergo, and how harmful can it be to those exposed?
There are two different isotope forms of uranium, U-235 and U-238. U-238 isotopes decay very slowly with a half-life being the same age as Earth while U-235 decays slightly faster. U- 238 generates approximately 0.1 watts of heat from decaying. Under specific conditions U-235 splits very easily and produces a lot of energy which is why we use the term "nuclear fission" when speaking of U-235. Being radioactive and occurring naturally in Earth, people are always exposed to some radioactivity from uranium. However, when exposed to high levels can be very dangerous to health. If a person comes in contact to exposure high enough, damage to skin tissue, kidney problems, respiratory difficulties, cataracts, and cancer are all possible side effects among many others.
Where is this substance most likely found, and how abundant is it?
What waste materials, if any, are produced by the use of this substance, and how is the waste handled and disposed of?
The fission reaction that occurs within the nuclear plant produces gamma radiation and radioactive waste that requires a special disposal procedure. As of yet, scientists have not found the most ideal way to dispose of this waste without there being any form of risk or hazard.
What careers or fields use this type of radiation, and why is it used?
Nuclear power plants use the reaction of uranium fission to boil water that turns a turbines, which in turn produces energy. An estimated one kilogram of uranium is needed to produce more electricity than 30 freight-car loads of coal.
What are the benefits and risks associated with using this material, and how common is its use?
Uranium fission within power plants generates approximately 7 million times more energy than that of a TNT molecule. In past years energy coming from uranium fission from power plants fueled 20% of America. Uranium fission also doesn't produce harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases that destroy our atmosphere like the burning of fossil fuels.
The use of uranium in nuclear power plants
8.01 Half-Life and Radioactive Decay Honors
What practical uses, if any, are there for this type of radiation? Is it used in the medical, industrial, scientific, or other fields?
Uranium is commonly used in the following:
Pottery Glazes
Photographic Chemicals
High-Energy X-Rays
Fuel for Commercial Power Plants (nuclear)
What other important information should we be aware of regarding this particular material and its use?
Uranium is commonly used in the military for various items. A small list is below.
High Density Bullets
Missile Ballasts
Aircraft Control Counterweights
Gyroscopic Compasses
Armored Plates on Tanks & Combat Vehicles
Fashioned into containers for transport of radioactive materials
Google Images
"What Is Uranium? How Does It Work?" What Is Uranium? How Does It Work. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2014. <http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-fuel-cycle/introduction/what-is-Uranium--How-Does-it-Work-/>.
N.p., n.d. Web. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.globalhealingcenter.com%2Ftoxic-metals%2Fdangers-of-uranium>.
N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2014. <http://learn.flvs.net/educator/student/frame_toolbar.cgi?ecarson7*3h88students*mpos=1&spos=0&option=hidemenu&slt=9GpCeIQ2EAFME*3065*http://learn.flvs.net/webdav/educator_chemistry_v10/index.htm>.
"Nuclear Fuel Processes." Nuclear Energy Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2014. <http://www.nei.org/Knowledge-Center/Nuclear-Fuel-Processes>.
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