Radioactivity : The Pros and Cons
Since its discovery by Henri Becquerel in 1896 much has been learned about
radioactive elements and their properties. This knowledge has led to
many beneficial applications of the numerous radioisotopes.
Did you know that some of the foods we eat have been treated by
exposure to radiation?
Have you ever wondered how we know the age of dinosaur bones?
Have you ever known anyone who was treated for cancer with radiation
Have you ever wondered how a nuclear submarine is powered?
Have you ever had an x-ray to look for a broken bone or a cavity?
All of these beneficial applications are due to scientific research,
discovery and development of nuclear chemistry
Although nuclear chemistry has provided numerous beneficial applications
to our society there is also a dark side to nuclear chemistry that was
must be aware of. The legacy that nuclear disasters such as Three Mile
Island and Chernobyl have left us has brought some societies to question
the continued use of nuclear energy. Why did these disasters happen?
How do we protect ourselves form these types of disasters? How do we
dispose of nuclear waste? Why don't we just use coal or petroleum to
furnish our energy needs?
The use of the atomic bomb to end World War II has been studied and
re-evaluated for 50 years since its use in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Should the US have use the A-bombs? Were there any other choices?
No doubt you have heard other stories of people being exposed to nuclear
radiation and developing cancer - sometimes in the name of
scientific research and medical development. Were these studies
ethical? Were they worth it?
These questions are all important and of no small significance. We must
use the past to teach us valuable lessons about the continued use of
nuclear chemistry. Explore on in this module to gain a better
understanding of nuclear chemistry. Then come back to this page and think
about the questions raised.
Return to the beginning of the Nuclear
Return to the Cruising Chemistry