Nuclear Science

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Nuclear Science
Science Course
Course CodeNUSC
Years Of Operation2006-2013
Sites OfferedBRI, SCZ
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Course Description

From the CTY Course Catalog (2006):

In 1905, Einstein published the special theory of relativity from which he derived the famous equation E=mc2. This celebrated equation led scientists to the idea that it may be possible to convert a tiny amount of mass into a large amount of energy. During World War II, Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt alerting him to the possibility that Nazi Germany was developing a terrifying new weapon based on the energy stored in an unimaginably small source, the nucleus of an atom. Thus began the secretive work in laboratories across the United States that produced the atomic bomb and initiated the peacetime field of nuclear science.

Today, nuclear science permeates our lives. The uncontrolled fission reaction of an atomic bomb is now controlled in nuclear power plants to provide electricity to our communities. Radioactive atoms are commonly used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, including cancer. Fresh foods have longer shelf lives because of irradiation.

In this course, students first learn the principles of natural and artificial radioactivity, nuclear reactions, half-life, and isotopes. Next they use these principles to understand nuclear technologies such as carbon-14 dating, stress tests, and radiation treatments for cancer, as well as the effects of radiation exposure and safety standards. In addition to lecture and discussion sessions, students participate in activities such as simulating half-life decay and measuring background radiation.