E equals em cee sq…oh look, a squirrel!

WARNING: I am easily distracted by shiny objects.

New commenter Dave (not to be confused with new commenter submandave) asks “how nuclear power plants work”? They work exactly like coal plants, except for the heat source.

Cliff’s Notes–Both heat water into steam. The pressure generated from this propels the steam, which keeps massive turbines spinning, which provide the motive force for the electric generators. Circle the steam back around, reheat it as necessary, and keep them turbines spinnin’.

Coal plants use chemical energy. Nuke plants exploit binding energy. Nuclear binding energy, as there are many different types.

I’ll hold off on more details, pending further questions. But here’s a question: does a molecule of water have less mass than one atom of oxygen and two of hydrogen?

My dad is also an RCT, and he refuses to accept my argument that it does. I don’t know why. He understands nuclear binding energy as well as I do. If you reduce binding energy the same exact amount of energy is released.

Well, if you burn hydrogen you get heat and light. If it wasn’t mass that was converted…what was?

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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8 Responses to E equals em cee sq…oh look, a squirrel!

  1. the botnet says:

    Interesting question.

    Veit Elser, Professor of Physics at Cornell has an interesting discussion of energy and mass.
    http://www.ccmr.cornell.edu/education/ask/index.html?quid=1256

  2. Billy says:

    I agree with your Dad; same mass. I don’t have a good, clear answer to your question though.

    • wormme says:

      And the amount of energy is so small that the loss of mass might not be detectable even if it is true. I could look things up and calculate that value, but…it’s gonna be small.

  3. steve says:

    Two questions:
    Do you happen to know or have access to how the Fukushima Daiichi plant is mapped out? It would be helpful to know where certain things are and how they relate to other parts of the reactor. If one knew where things were in relation to each other and how they impact each other it may help make a bit more sense. For instance, I read reports today that the “suppression pool is saturated.” Okay, that’s nice, what does that mean to the situation? What is under the reactor core? What holds up the core? How do you flood the reactor core with seawater if you have no electricity to run pumps? Hopefully you get the idea.

    Second, how do microsieverts relate to rems?

    This is all new to me. Keep up the great work trying to educate.

    • wormme says:

      Hi steve, welcome!

      A Sievert is exactly 100 rem. So a microSievert is 100 microrem, or 0.1 millirem.

      With radiological terms for dose, sievert and rem are the most informative. They account not only for the energy deposited (a Gray or 100 rad, respectively) but for the type of radiation. Some forms of energy are more biologically dangerous than others. Then we multiply rads/Grays by “Quality Factors” to account for the it.

      The QF goes as high as 20 for alpha. But for gammas/x-rays it’s just 1. For those, “rem” and “rad” are synonymous.

      Tomorrow I’ll try to post a little on mechanics and infrastructure. I don’t know the specific engineering of these reactors but I do know how they must work.

      I’m not certain what’s meant by “supression pool”, but it’s probably a water reservoir used as a heat sink to condense steam. At Brown’s Ferry it was called the “torus”.

      They’re venting steam to relieve pressure. But if you can condense steam within containment you reduce pressure without venting to the outside. So steam is blown into water reservoirs to condense it.

      If that’s what it is, “saturation” could mean one of two things. You could physically fill it up with water as steam condenses. But more likely is heat saturation. Once the pool gets heated to the boiling point, what good is it to throw more steam at it? You’ve stopped relieving pressure.

  4. Billy says:

    I have the answer, and it’s in your heading – E=MC2

    Those H’s and Os really want to bond; sort of a path of least resistance thing. But they can’t bind without some energy – the initial spark, and enough energy to break the bind of them existing side by side unconnected. Because a change of state cannot occur without energy.

    When enough energy/spark is given to two H’s and the O, the change occurs. The two H’s and the O “hit”, thus mass times velocity squared yields energy. And that energy is enough to cause more H’s and O’s to bind – boom. They really must want to be together, because they must be moving really fast to produce all that energy when they hit.

    Change needs energy – Have you every put a bottle of water in the freezer overnight, or left one in a car in sub-freezing temps. If there is no motion, you will find the water still liquid even though its temp is well below freezing. Then pick it up. That movement is enough to cause it to turn solid in front of your eyes; takes about 1 second.

    I’ve always thought there is a static amount of mass in the universe and that cannot change; I may be wrong – no expert for sure. Energy may be limited if the universe is forever expanding – eventually, nothing will be close enough to hit anything else.

    ps. Congrats on all the blog’n activity. Lot’s of new and interesting posts this past week. Thanks.

  5. Bart says:

    Billy is right. But, it can be stated more comprehensively. Energy is mass. They are completely equivalent, just in different states of being. Maybe it makes it easier to visualize as: Energy is unbound mass. Energy is the thread, and mass is the knot.

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