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Isotopes in Nuclear Weapons Testing

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Nita Xavier

on 29 October 2013

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Transcript of Isotopes in Nuclear Weapons Testing

Isotopes in Nuclear Weapons Testing
What is nuclear weapons testing?
Types of Nuclear Weapons
What is an Isotope?
Isotopes are atoms of an element that are
chemically similar, they have equal number
of protons but different number of neutrons
in the nuclei. Therefore, they differ in mass.
Ex. Mg-24 , Mg-25 , Mg-26

They have similar chemical properties
but different masses.
Stable Isotopes
Stable Isotopes maintain constant concentrations on Earth over time. They do not decay!
Unstable Isotopes
Unstable Isotopes are atoms that
spontaneously disintegrate to form
an atom of another element. They
emit particles and radiation. These isotopes continue to decay until they reach stability.
Natural Abundance
In chemistry, natural abundance is
the measure of the average amount
of a given isotope naturally occurring
on Earth.
How can you calculate the
atomic mass of an element
containing a mixtures of
Nuclear weapons testing are experiments that are carried out to identify the yield, effectiveness and explosive capability of nuclear weapons.
Effects of nuclear weapons testing ?
The effects of nuclear weapons testing ranges from the weapons producing large amounts of high temperatures and radiation. Also other nuclear weapons that produce mass amounts of radiation can cause a person long term effects on their health. When a nuclear weapon detonates the explosive energy produces large amounts of thermal radiation which is heat. For these very reasons nuclear weapons testing are done in remote areas to avoid any contact with people.
Where and when was a nuclear weapon first tested?
The first nuclear weapon that
was detonated as a test was by
the United States at the trinity
site on July 16th 1945.
Other countries involved in nuclear weapons testing include:
- United States (1054)
- Sovient Union (715)
-France (210)
- United Kingdom (45)
- China (45)
- India (6)
- Pakistan (6)
- North Korea (3)
Main Isotopes in Nuclear Weapons Testing
Plutonium (Pu)-239
Uranium (U)-235
Plutonium (Pu) - 239
Uranium (U) - 235
Uranium is one of the heaviest of all naturally occurring elements. It is found in a mixture of mainly two isotopes, U-238 which makes up 99.3% and U-235 which makes up about 0.7%.
Uranium 235
92 protons
143 neutrons
= 235 atomic mass
When U-235 absorbs a moving neutron it splits into two (fission) and releases some energy (heat), as well as dislodging 2-3 extra neutrons. If enough these dislodged neutrons cause the nuclei of other U-235 atoms to split, releasing even more neutrons, a fission "chain reaction" occurs. This repeats, many millions of times to produce a large amount of thermal energy from a very small amount of uranium (nuclear fission).
What causes the reaction?
Here is a picture
of Uranium fission
Plutonium is the most common isotope used for testing and creating nuclear weapons. Plutonium has at least 15 different isotopes, all of which are radioactive. The most common ones are Pu-238, Pu-239, and Pu-240. Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,100 years and is very radioactive.

Plutonium (Pu)-239
94 protons
145 neutrons
239 atomic mass
What causes the reaction?
Plutonium-239 is created through
this process.
Plutonium-239 is commonly
used to make nuclear weapons.
In fact, it was used in the bomb
dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945.
Plutonium undergoes fission when it
is bombarded with a neutron which
creates a "chain fission" reaction
creating enormous energy generation
and has great destructive potential.
Atomic Bombs
Hydrogen Bombs
Atomic Bombs
Hydrogen Bombs
A hydrogen bomb is the most destructive weapon invented by
mankind . It is the most powerful type of nuclear bomb. in some
cases reaching more than 2,000 times the yield of the nuclear
bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. A hydrogen
bomb is the result of the fusion light nuclei like tritium or
deuterium, which releases a large amount of energy.A hydrogen
bomb releases the same power that fuels the Sun (sun uses
Thanks for listening!
-atomic bomb or atom bomb,
has great explosive power which
results from the sudden release
of energy upon the splitting, or
fission, of the nuclei of heavy
elements such as plutonium or
What happens?
-atoms of isotopes uranium-235 and plutonium- 239 is struck with neutron
- nucleus splits into two, each fragment has about half the amount of protons and neutrons of the original isotope
- the splitting causes the release of a huge amount of thermal energy and gamma rays, as well as 2 or more neutrons.
- the escaping neutrons strike, causing more fission and emitting even more neutrons that split more nuclei
- rapidly multiplying fissions create a chain reaction
- the chain reaction consumes all fissionable material, creating an explosion.
- uranium-238, uranium-235, and plutonium-239 are the primary
fissionable material used in atomic bombs, as the readily undergo fission.
What happens?
-Nuclear fusion involves creating heavier elements out of lighter ones by joining atomic nuclei together.
-It is extremely difficult to start a fusion reaction, because nuclei are positively charged and they'll strongly repel each because of their strong electromagnetic forces.
- to start the fusion reaction nuclei must come very close to each other, this is achieved with the extreme temperature and pressure released by a fission reaction
- So in order to start the fusion reaction, a fission reaction is detenated, to trigger the fusion reaction
What comes to mind when
you hear the word "radioactive"?
How are isotopes the same or different in terms of physical and chemical properties?
Isotopes of the same element are usually the same in terms of physical and chemical properties. Isotopes have different numbers of neutrons but are identical in amount of protons and electrons. Chemical behavior is largely determined by electronic structure, so if the electronic structure remains the same then the properties don't change either. (their are exceptions to this rule - deutrium)
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