Good Nukes, Bad Nukes
Nuclear power produces needed energy, but nuclear waste threatens our future. Nuclear weapons make us strong, but dirty bombs make us vulnerable. Nuclear medicine can cure us, but nuclear radiation can kill us. Radiocarbon dating tells us about the past, but it can challenge religious faith. This course is designed to give each student the scientific knowledge necessary to understand and participate in public discussions of nuclear issues. The concepts include classification of nuclei, the types of energy (radiation) released in nuclear reactions, the interactions of that radiation with matter, including human health effects, and the design of nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Hands-on demonstrations and experiments will explore radioactive decay, antimatter, transmutation of atoms, nuclear detectors and interactions of radiation with matter. We will apply the core concepts to understanding contemporary issues, such as electric power generation using nuclear energy, including its environmental effects; advances in nuclear medicine; the challenges of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation; the threat of "dirty bombs"; and dating the universe. We also will cover the history of the Manhattan Project and the use of nuclear weapons that brought an end to World War II. The course will offer a field trip to at least one significant nuclear site in Ohio. This course is designed to be accessible to any student. No prerequisite.