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Energy released from atomic nuclei in significant amounts. In 1919 Ernest Rutherford discovered that alpha rays could split the nucleus of an atom. This led ultimately to the discovery of the neutron and the release of huge amounts of energy by the process of nuclear fission. Nuclear energy is also released as a result of nuclear fusion. The release of nuclear energy can be controlled or uncontrolled. Nuclear reactors carefully control the release of energy, whereas the energy release of a nuclear weapon or resulting from a core meltdown in a nuclear reactor is uncontrolled. See alsochain reaction, nuclear power, radioactivity.
Variants of NUCLEAR ENERGY
nuclear energy or atomic energy
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on nuclear energy, visit Britannica.com.
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