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AC Geophysical Science Study Guide
Chapter 10 – Nuclear Physics
Date_________ Date Due_________ Hour____________
Read the following pages in Chapter 10 and answer the following questions completely and compute the following problems.
Place your answers on separate sheets of paper. For the problems show all formulas used and your setup. Use all home
resources, not just the textbook in answering the following. You must show all your work (Dimensional Analysis) for all
problems! LABEL ALL UNITS!
10.1 Symbols of the Elements - (p.251 - 253)
1. What original “elements” did Aristotle think composed all matter on the Earth?
2. Why are some element symbols very different from their names? For example carbon is C but silver is Ag.
3. When and by whom was the symbol notation for elements first introduced?
4. Name an element that is named after: (a) a city; (b) a country; (c) a state; (d) a planet; (e) a dwarf planet; (f) a scientist; (g) a group of
countries; (h) a prize; (i) a laboratory.
5. Why do chemists call helium, curium and barium the medical elements?
6. What do you call a joke that is based on cobalt, radon, and yttrium?
7. What is the dullest element?
10.2 The Atomic Nucleus - (p.253 - 256)
1. Describe the electric charge, organization, and different particles found in the nucleus of an atom.
2. Do electrical forces tend to hold a nucleus together or push it apart?
3. Describe Ernest Rutherford's famous metallic foil experiment that determined the composition of the nucleus on an atom.
4. Describe how Rutherford's results might have been different if he used beta particles instead of alpha particles.
5. Distinguish between an ion and an isotope.
6. Which of the following are nucleons--protons, neutrons, or electrons?
7. What is a nuclide? What are the nuclide symbols for the three isotopes of hydrogen?
8. How does the number of electrons in a normal atom compare to the number of protons in its nucleus?
9. In what ways are the isotopes of an element similar to one another? In what ways are they different?
10. Why are the atomic masses as found on the periodic table shown with decimal numbers? Is it possible to have an atomic mass that includes half a
proton or neutron?
11. Which element(s) has the highest proton to neutron ratio? What is that ratio?
12. Which element(s) has the lowest proton to neutron ratio? What is that ratio?
13. Which element(s) has the lowest proton to electron ratio? The highest ratio? What is the ratio?
14. Describe the strong force. What role does it play in the nucleus of an atom?
15. Describe the weak force. What role does it play in the nucleus of an atom?
16. Provide the nuclide symbol and the name of the element for the following atomic numbers: 7; 11; 12; 17; 19; 26; 38; 82; 90; 92; 94.
10.3 Radioactivity and Half-Life - (p.256 - 265)
1. Define radioactivity. Who is the first individual to discover radioactivity? Why is radioactivity dangerous to humans?
2. What is radioactive decay? Does it require energy or is energy given off during this process?
3. Why does the presence of neutrons in a nucleus make it more stable?
4. Why do too many neutrons in the nucleus make it unstable?
5. Distinguish between an alpha particle, a beta particle, and a gamma ray.
6. Distinguish between alpha decay, beta decay, gamma decay, and electron capture using a balanced nuclear equation for each.
7. When an atom undergoes radioactive decay, does it turn into a completely different element?
8. What is the meaning of radioactive half-life?
9. If the radioactive half life of a certain isotope is 1620 years, how much of that substance will be left at the end of 1620 years? After 3240 years?
10. X-rays are most similar to which of the following: alpha particle, beta particle, or gamma rays.
11. One-sixteenth of a sample of Na-24 remains undecayed after 60 hours. Find the half-life of this radioisotope. Show your work!
12. Why are there deposits of lead in all deposits of uranium ores?
13. What is the difference between a radioisotope and an isotope?
14. Describe carbon-14 dating. What types of materials is it used for?
15. An animal bone is found to be approximately 28,650 years old using the C-14 dating method. How many half-lives is this? What percentage of the
original C-14 is still present?
10.4 Nuclear Reactions - (p.265 - 268)
1. Define transmutation.
2. In a nuclear reaction, what two things are conserved?
3. How does the nucleus of an atom change when an alpha particle is emitted? A beta particle? Describe in words and show the nuclear reaction in
the appropriate nuclear symbols.
4. (a) What element does thorium become if it emits an alpha particle? (b) What if it emits a beta particle instead? Show both nuclear reactions.
5. When radium, atomic number 88, decays by emitting an alpha particle, what is the atomic number and name of the daughter nucleus? Show the
nuclear reaction.
6. When plutonium, atomic number 94, decays by emitting an alpha particle, a beta particle, and then another alpha particle. What is the atomic
number and name of the daughter nucleus? Show the complete nuclear reaction.
7. When actinium, atomic number 89, decays by emitting three beta particles, and then two gamma rays, what is the atomic number and name of the
element for the resulting nucleus? Show the complete nuclear reaction.
8. How are radioactive nuclei used in medical applications?
10.5 Nuclear Fission - (p.268 - 273)
1. What is fission?
2. What is the role of electrical forces in nuclear fission?
3. What is the role of a neutron in nuclear fission?
4. Of what use are the neutrons that are produced when a nucleus undergoes fission?
5. What is a chain reaction? What controls the chain reaction in a nuclear reactor?
6. Why does a chain reaction not occur in uranium mines?
7. Why does helium not yield energy if fissioned?
8. How can plutonium be created? Is plutonium an isotope of uranium or is it a completely different element?
9. A nucleus of Li-6 is struck by a nucleus of H-2, and a nuclear reaction occurs in which two identical nuclei are produced. State the atomic number,
mass number, and chemical name of these nuclei.
10. What is the concept of “critical mass?”
11. Can a nuclear reactor explode like a nuclear bomb?
12. Describe briefly how a nuclear reactor and power plant works.
13. What was the Manhattan Project? Explain.
14. Describe the two well known nuclear accidents of the modern age, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
15. What is a breeder reactor?
10.6 Nuclear Fusion - (p.273 - 277)
1. Define nuclear fusion.
2. Describe the mass to energy conversion that occurs in the Sun each second.
3. Why are the conditions in the interior of a star favorable for nuclear fusion reactions?
4. Why is the development of nuclear fusion so important?
5. Has nuclear fusion for peaceful purposes been achieved on Earth?
6. What are the major obstacles to building a fusion-powered electric-producing power plant? Why is a fusion reactor not in use?
7. Why does uranium not yield energy if fused?
8. What are two advantages and two disadvantages to the eventual use of fusion reactors?
9. Calculate the amount of energy liberated if 1.0 kg of mass were completely transformed into energy.
10. A nuclear reaction produces 9.0 x 1011 J of heat energy because of the conversion of mass into energy. What mass was converted?
11. The loss of mass in a fusion reaction is 0.010 g. How much energy will have been produced?
12. What are the two products of a fusion reaction that joins one deuterium nuclei and one tritium nuclei?
13. What is a mass defect? Where does it come from?
14. What is an atomic mass unit (µ)? What is the mass of a proton and a neutron in µ and kg?
15. (a) What type of a unit is an electron volt? (b) Is an electron volt a big or small unit? (c) How about a MeV? (d) What do these units represent and
what are they used for in the scientific world?
16. Compare the atomic mass of an atom with the atomic mass of the constituent particles that make up that mass.
17. What is binding energy? How do you determine binding energy?
18. The hydrogen isotope H-3 has a nuclear mass of 3.0155 µ, and the helium isotope He-3 has a nuclear mass of 3.0149 µ. Find the mass
discrepancy for each nucleus in µ and calculate the energy equivalent of this discrepancy in MeV.
19. Pick the most stable nuclei from Figure 10.18.
20. Distinguish between a hydrogen bomb and a fission bomb like the ones used during WWII.
10.7 Hazardous Effects of Radiation - (p.277 - 279)
1. What is ionizing radiation and why is it harmful to living things?
2. What is the S.I. unit of radiation dosage? List the major sources of radiation dosage in the United States. What is the radiation dosage limit for the
average American before the risk of contracting cancer is approached?
3. Why is radiation more intense at high altitudes and near the Earth's poles?
4. How do the penetrating powers of the three types of radiation compare?
5. Distinguish between the different types of nuclear waste.
6. How do the countries of France and the United States treat their nuclear waste differently?
7. Where is the current national waste repository site for nuclear waste?
8. Explain the science and dangers of radioactive radon.
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