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The Nuclear Reaction - 2 of 2 - DtaS





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Uploaded on Feb 4, 2009

Dr. Richard A Muller leads a discussion on a controversial word: Nuclear. Nuclear terrorism, nuclear power, nuclear proliferation, the mispronunciation of the word nuclear...all have been fervently discussed. But When it comes to the nuclear discussion, isn't the science a key component?

He discusses the difference between a Uranium bomb, a Plutonium bomb, and a Hydrogen bomb, the real dangers of nuclear waste, and the danger of radiation. Consider it a crash course on nuclear physics that the next president would appreciate.

Here are some nuggets to chew on:
* Of those killed in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attacks, less than 2% died of cancer induced by the radiation.
* 1 square mile of sunlight with current solar cells would provide as much peak power as a nuclear power plant.
* Plutonium is a thousand times less poisonous than botulism toxin, the active ingredient in botox.
* Purified uranium is hard to get, but easy to design into a bomb. Plutonium is relatively easy to get, but hard to make into a bomb. So different kinds of nuclear bombs are difficult to make, but for different reasons. Terrorists are unlikely to be able to make one; the bigger danger is that they could buy one.

Richard A. Muller is professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley (and my former physics teacher!). He is a past winner of the MacArthur Fellowship. He is the author of Physics for Future Presidents, based on his renowned course for non-science students.

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