On completion of this unit the student should be able to describe the uses and hazards of radioactivity and nuclear energy in industry and the general community. Option 1:
You are a newspaper reporter investigating radioactivity or nuclear energy for a special feature in a weekend newspaper. After thoroughly investigating your topic, you are to explain the relevant physics principles to the paper’s non-scientific but intelligent readers. Include several (at least three) relevant diagrams or pictures. You should also include a comprehensive list of references and at least three web sites used in your research. Set out your report in newspaper format. Word Limit: 500 words
You are a reporter investigating radioactivity or nuclear energy for a special section in your paper’s website. After thoroughly investigating your topic, you are to explain the relevant physics principles to the site’s non-scientific but intelligent viewers. As a website needs a good range of graphics, make sure you include plenty of relevant diagrams or pictures. You should also include a comprehensive list of references and links to at least three web sites used in your research. Word Limit: 500 words (Note: You may use PowerPoint or produce a Web Site for this option)
How can radioactive substances be used for medical treatment? Which radioactive elements can be used? How are they used? Are they , or sources? What safety precautions are needed? Which diseases can be treated this way?
Properties of Nuclear Radiation:
How does radiation affect living cells? How can it be detected? How do , or sources differ? What happens to atoms when each sort of radiation is emitted?
Nuclear power plant in Monbulk:
Imagine that plans for a nuclear power plant to be built in Monbulk have just been released. Prepare a detailed report and response to these plans. Include details about the type of plant, how it would work, the fuel used, advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power plants as well as opinions about the proposal.
Uses of Radiation for Medical Diagnosis:
Which radioactive elements can be used? How are they used? Are they , or sources? What diseases can be detected this way? What safety precautions are needed?
Where and how is uranium mined in Australia? Are there restrictions and controls on uranium mines? Explore the arguments for and against uranium mining.
Is nuclear power a safe and viable alternative to the methods of power generation currently used in Australia? Compare the environmental and economic advantages and disadvantages of using coal, hydro and nuclear power for electricity generation.
Investigate the methods of disposal of nuclear waste materials over the years. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each method?
Production of Radioisotopes:
Where do hospitals in Australia obtain radioactive materials needed for medical diagnosis and treatment? Where and how are they produced? What precautions are needed during transport and disposal?
Nuclear energy is used in medical diagnosis, prevention and therapy, particularly in cancer patients. Where do the nuclear sources come from? How is the waste disposed of? Explain how radiotherapy is used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
What are the main arguments of Greenpeace and other antinuclear organisations? Are these refutable?
Investigate the immediate and long-term effects of the atomic bomb explosion at Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
The Manhattan Project
Investigate the development and testing of the first atomic bomb and the scientists involved.
Is Carbon dating a reliable method of age determination? Explain how it is used.
Chernobyl/Three Mile Island:
Investigate the events leading up to the disaster at Chernobyl or Three-Mile Island. Could either of these have been avoided? What environmental or health effects resulted from this disaster? How was the area cleaned up afterwards?
Is sterilisation and preservation of food using nuclear sources dangerous to humans? Describe the advantages and disadvantages. Should the Australian Government support and encourage food irradiation? Should irradiated food be specially labelled?
How can a nuclear fission reaction be initiated and controlled? What can it be used for? Explore the arguments for and against.
A friend is undergoing radiotherapy for cancer of the thyroid. Investigate how the treatment works and the underlying theory. Write a human-interest story for the paper, which will help readers understand the physics involved.
Effects of Radiation on Humans:
What are some of the effects of radiation on humans? How is radiation dose measured? List some long and short term effects from high and low doses, external and internal sources.
Consequences of Scientific Discoveries:
Robert Oppenheimer said, “A scientist cannot hold back progress because of fears of what the world will do with his discoveries”. How do you feel about such a statement? Investigate Einstein’s theory of relativity and the developments that followed. If Einstein had known that his mass-energy equation would be used later in the design of the bomb, would it have been “right” to falsify or withhold his theory so that nuclear weapons might be delayed or avoided?
How does a smoke detector work? What radioactive source does it contain? Is it safe?