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The foundation of nuclear energy is harnessing the power of atoms. Both fission and fusion are nuclear processes by which atoms are altered to create energy, but what is the difference between the two? Simply put, fission is the division of one atom into two, and fusion is the combination of two lighter atoms into a larger one. They are opposing processes, and therefore very different.
The word fission means “a splitting or breaking up into parts” (Merriam-Webster Online, http://www.m-w.com). Nuclear fission releases heat energy by splitting atoms. The surprising discovery that it was possible to make a nucleus divide was based on Albert Einstein’s prediction that mass could be changed into energy. In 1939, scientist began experiments, and one year later Enrico Fermi built the first nuclear reactor.
Nuclear fission takes place…
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