A is for Atom
A is for Atom, a 20-minute video produced by General Electric in the early 1950’s is a great animated depiction of what makes atoms radioactive. While a few scientific concepts are represented differently that you would see today, an educated teacher can use this video to supplement any unit on nuclear science.
I recommend showing this video to your students at the beginning of a nuclear unit or before you talk about the atomic bomb. The propaganda and assumptions present, especially in part two, are a great discussion starter.
- Who created this video?
- This video was made after what monumental nuclear event?
- Where did scientists find a giant of unlimited power?
- ________________ are the tiny _______________ ______________ that make up everything in the world.
- What is the atom’s binding force?
- How do scientists identify an atom?
- What does the word radioactive mean?
- The radium nucleus threw off an __________ particle consisting of 2 _________ and 2 _____________. One of the protons was ______________ into the nitrogen nucleus, turning it to _______________. This was _________________ ___________________________, man changing the elements.
- What’s another term used for particle accelerators?
- What happened when a neutron was fired at a uranium nucleus?
- What happens to the leftover “binding force" in nuclear fission?
Part One Answers
- The video was created by General Electric.
- This video was made after the nuclear bombs were dropped on Japan in World War II.
- Scientists found a giant of unlimited power in the atom
- Atoms are the tiny building blocks that make up everything in the world.
- The atom’s binding force is the “cosmic glue" that holds the nucleus together.
- Scientists identify an atom by the number of protons in the nucleus.
- The word radioactive means that the nuclear structure will be spontaneously altered.
- The radium nucleus threw off an alpha particle consisting of 2 protons and 2 neutrons.One of the protons was absorbed into the nitrogen nucleus, turning it to oxygen.This was artificial transmutation, man changing the elements.
- Another term used for particle accelerators is atom smashers.
- When a neutron is fired at a uranium nucleus the atom splits into two-nuclear fission!
- What happens to the leftover “binding force" in nuclear fission is that it explodes as energy.
Part 2 continues the great animation. You will find discussion and depiction of a nuclear chain reaction, references to historical sites Oakridge and Hanford, and well as allusions to possible uses for nuclear power in the future.
Additionally, medicinal and industrial uses are shown, with emphasis on man’s ability to control nuclear reactions. These videos are a great way to stimulate critical thinking and discussion in the science classroom.
This is second is a series of video question and answers.
- Describe the second “miracle" described in the video.
- What happened at Oakridge?
- How can a nuclear reactor itself be a source of fuel?
- What are some things that could run on nuclear power?
- What are radioactive isotopes used for?
- What propaganda or assumptions did you find in this video?
- Why do you think that GE made this video at this particular point in history?
- The second “miracle" described in the video is that one fission of uranium produces three more neutrons, that induce more fissions. Essentially, they considered a “chain reaction" to be a miracle.
- It was at Oakridge that enough U-235 was separated from U-238 to build the first atomic bomb.
- A nuclear reactor itself can be a source of fuel by converting U-238 into plutonium, which will fission when struck by a neutron.
- Some things that could run on nuclear power include locomotives, submarines, ships, and even airplanes!
- Radioactive isotopes used for tracing elements as they travel through plants and the human body. They are also applied in industry.
- Propaganda or assumptions in this video included a slant toward belief that humans, together with science, could solve any problem. Additionally, it was assumed that all people were “men of good will" and would not find interest in seeking out nuclear weapons.
- One reason GE may have created this video was to sway the public opinion on nuclear power. GE is involved in energy production and they may have wanted to build nuclear power plants. It would be much easier to do so if the public supported this move.