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Many decades ago, Thomas Alva Edison wrote thesewords in his diary:
I am much interested in atomic energy, but so far as I can see, we have not yet reached the point where this exhaustless force can be harnessed and utilized. . . . The energy could be turned into electricity. . . . The force residing in such a power is gigantic and illimitable.
Unfortunately, Edison didnít live long enough to see his words come true. He died 11 years before Enrico Fermi succeeded in producing the first controlled nuclear chain reaction in 1942. But Edison was right. The forces residing in atomic, or nuclear, energy are gigantic, and these forces can be turned into electricity.
In 1975, for example, 54 power plants across the United States were using nuclear energy to generate electricity. They supply almost one tenth of all the electricity consumed by the country. In the years ahead, we can look forward to even greater development of nuclear power.
This booklet is an introduction to nuclear energy. The eight experiments presented in the text will help you understand a few of the basic facts about the tremendous energy locked inside atoms. Before you begin to experiment though, you should know a bit more about atoms:
Whatís an Atom?
All matter is made up of atoms . . . different kinds ofatoms joined in different combinations. The page you are reading is made up of zillions of atoms. So are you. And so