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Misconceptions about Nuclear Science

Radioactivity first appeared during World War II.

    Radioactivity has been around since the Big Bang. Humans have known about radioactivity and used it since the 19th century.

Atoms cannot be changed from one element to another.

    Atoms can be changed to new elements with the addition or subtraction of a proton. We see atoms change in alpha decay, fission and fusion reactions.

Fission and fusion are the same; fission is more powerful than fusion.

    Fission is the splitting of atoms and fusion is the combining of atoms.

Neutrons and protons have no internal structure.

Nuclear power plants produce harmful radioactive waste while other forms of electrical generation do not.

    Mining for coal brings uranium to the surface of earth. That radioactivity can have a greater effect on the environment than nuclear waste.

Radiation causes cancer. Thus, it cannot be used to cure cancer.

    Excessive radiation can cause cancer. However, Utilizing the destructive power of radiation on cancerous cells can cure cancer.

Once a material is radioactive it is radioactive forever.

    One can physically remove the radioactive particles from the material or wait for it to decay. Some radioactive decay in a short time while other decays might last longer than 10,000 years.

  last updated: August 9, 2000 webmaster