Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
A nuclear power plant located in the small town of Byron, Illinois.
Enormous Energy
To really understand what happens in fi ssion, you need to look at
the mass, or amount of matter, of the particles involved. When
a nucleus splits, the particles that result have less mass than
the original nucleus did. In other words, some mass disappears.
Actually, it gets turned into energy—a great deal of energy. The
famous scientist Albert Einstein came up with a formula that
described this. The formula is e = mc 2 . Here, e is energy, m is mass,
and c is the speed of light, which must be squared, or multiplied by
itself. This formula can tell how much energy is produced in fi ssion.
All you have to do is multiply the amount of mass that was lost by c 2 ,
which is a very, very big number. If you measure the speed of light in
meters per second, then c is about 300 million, or 300,000,000.
So c 2 is 300 million x 300 million (300,000,000 x 300,000,000),
which equals 90 quadrillion (90,000,000,000,000,000)!
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