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Nuclear Reactions - Concept

Teacher/Instructor Kendal Orenstein
Kendal Orenstein

Rutger's University
M.Ed., Columbia Teachers College

Kendal founded an academic coaching company in Washington D.C. and teaches in local area schools. In her spare time she loves to explore new places.

Nuclear reactions differ from other chemical reactions in that they involve changing the structure of the nucleus. Types of nuclear reactions include alpha decay, beta decay and gamma decay. Often particles such as electrons, neutrons, or protons are emitted during nuclear reactions.

Alright so let's talk about nuclear reactions. Nuclear reactions are different from chemical reactions in the whole Chemistry class and your inorganic Chemistry class you've been taking all year you have been learning about just plain old chemical reactions well nuclear reactions are different because they're reactions that occur inside the nucleus okay so let's talk about some differences between chemical reactions and nuclear reactions.

One of the main differences is, is that in chemical reactions bonds are broken and formed and that's what makes the chemical reaction occur. They're broken and formed between two different atoms while nuclear reactions they are nuclei that emit particles and or rays into the atmosphere around us so it might be one single atom that's changing and emitting something that changing the nucleus inside and emitting something out in the atmosphere around it so it might not having anything to do with other atoms at all just one atom alone.

In a chemical reaction atoms are unchanged but rearranged, so they may be breaking breaking and rearranging other ways but the atoms themselves are unchanged whereas the nuclear reactions because we're changing the composition of the nucleus, we might be changing other protons. If we're changing number of protons, we know the protons [IB] the number of protons is unique for each atom so if we're going to change the number of protons in there we're actually going to change from one type of atom to another type of atom so you might have you know uranium might go from [IB] uranium to lead they can the atom actually completely changes it's identity because it's changing the number of protons or changing the things inside the nucleus.

In chemical reactions they involve valence electrons we know that. In nuclear reactions they involve protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons and neutrons are inside the nucleus so these are the guys that actually are going to affect or make the chemical reaction or the nuclear reaction occur.

Chemical reactions relatively chemical reactions have small energy changes relative to nuclear reactions. Nuclear reactions have extremely extremely large chemical chemical changes. I mean if you think about chemical reaction they will you know something might blow up and that's, that's that a lot to you and me that a lot of energy being released. However, nuclear reactions can if you think about an atom bomb, nuclear reactions can be blow up cities and possibly even countries off of the map whereas chemical reactions might have a small explosion comparatively so they'd actually a ton of energy within them.

Chemical reactions are, the rate of the chemical reactions influence the concentration, temperature, pressure and catalysts. The nuclear reactions are unaffected by these things. The nuclear reaction rates can are as large as millions and millions of years like uranium decay or thousands years like carbon decay or like milliseconds so these guys are not affected by the temperature doesn't make it different by the concentration by the any catalysts can't help it nothing can actually increase or decrease the rate of nuclear decay like you can with chemical reactions.

So these are the main differences between nuclear and chemical equations and if you want to learn more of there's more videos to come.