Most people only know of the nuclear power that went to nuclear warfare and the bombs that were a part of World War II. However, nuclear has made a name for itself in the last seventy years or so. There are plants all over the country, most are east of the Mississippi, but there is quite a bit to the west as well. There is a total of one hundred in the country, the quad cities alone has two nuclear power plants. All over the world plants have been built, the world has seen what an asset nuclear energy can be. (“Operating Nuclear Power Reactors”, 2014).
Nuclear energy’s first developments were from chemists and physicists learning about the atom. The actual nuclear energy would come later. In 1895, Wilhelm Röntgen found that when he put an electric current in an evacuated tube, x-rays were produced. Rontgen called this ionizing radiation because the x-rays were a result of electrons coming off of an atom making the atom an ion. In the following year a man named Henri Becquerel took an ore containing uranium and radium, pitchblende, and saw that it caused to darken a sheet of silver salts on a piece of glass finding alpha particles and beta radiation. In 1902, Ernest Rutherford found that he could change what element an atom is by getting an alpha or beta particle to come off of the nucleus. Seventeen years later he proved this by making a nitrogen atom into oxygen from shooting alpha particles off of radium. By 1938 many scientists were able to gain understanding of radioactive isotopes and prove atomic fission occurred. At the time nuclear fission was described as a neutron being injected into the nucleus causing enough vibration that the atom splits into two close, but uneven parts and released about 200 million electron volts. Two scientists, Hahn and Strassmann, soon found that not only does fission create a lot of energy, but also sends neutrons out to other nuclei creating a chain reaction of nuclear fission. The development of nuclear fission and what isotope was best created the elements neptunium and plutonium and the discovery that U-235 was the best isotope for nuclear fission along with slow moving neutrons (“Outline History of Nuclear Energy”, 2014).
In 1941, a committee in England, the MAUD, came up with two conclusions. The first was that uranium could be used for a bomb, the second was that uranium could be used as a source of power. The committee said in their report of the power source that further development should be put on hold to focus on the developments of the bombs because of World War II occurring. The report did say that uranium could be a source of energy in the form of heat, and could be used to make radioactive isotopes that could be used instead of radium (“Outline History of Nuclear Energy”, 2014).
The first nuclear reactor that was used for electricity was done in a laboratory in Idaho, the Argonne National Laboratory in december of 1951. It did not produce a lot of electricity, but was successful. The first...