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Binding energy per nucleon as function of the nuclear mass
Image courtesy of Contemporary Physics Education Project (CPEP)

Binding Energy

A plot of the binding energy per nucleon vs. atomic mass shows a peak atomic number 56 (Iron). Elements with atomic mass less then 56 release energy if formed as a result of a fusion reaction. Above this threshold in order to release energy a fission reaction must occur.


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Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Atomic Mass

One way scientists measure the size of something is by its mass. Scientists can even measure very, very tiny things like atoms. One measure of the size of an atom is its "atomic mass". Almost all of the...more

Binding Energy

A plot of the binding energy per nucleon vs. atomic mass shows a peak atomic number 56 (Iron). Elements with atomic mass less then 56 release energy if formed as a result of a fusion reaction. Above this...more

Fusion Experiments

There are several experiments where nuclear fusion reactions have been achieved in a controlled manner (that means no bombs are involved!!). The two main approaches that are being explored are magnetic...more

The Hydrogen Bomb

In the Hydrogen bomb the explosion of a nuclear fission charge (atomic bomb) produces the temperature and density so fusion can occur. This fusion results in a sudden release of a large amount of energy...more

Creating Elements up to Iron

When the temperature in the core of a star reaches 100 million degrees Kelvin fusion of Helium into Carbon occurs. Oxygen is also formed from fusion of Carbon and Helium together when the temperature is...more

The Big Bang

All of the matter and energy in the Universe was initially confined in a very small region. An explosion occurred which caused the Universe to begin expanding. This expansion continues today. ...more

Neutrinos

The neutrino is an extremely light particle. It has no electric charge. The neutrino interacts through the weak force. For this reason and because it is electrically neutral, neutrino interactions with...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA