Surf the Atomic Superhighway!
ATOMS AT WORK
Since scientists first learned how to split the atom, the uses of nuclear technology have multiplied in a continuous chain reaction. Today, those technologies play essential and even life-saving roles in our society. Radiation, for example, is a vital and versatile medical tool used in both the detection and treatment of cancer, as well as more routine procedures, such as X-rays and scans. One-third of the 30 million Americans hospitalized every year undergo medical processes that use radiation. It also is indispensable in medical research as a "tag" or tracer to diagnose disease and to study the effectiveness of new drugs.
Not only does nuclear technology help keep us healthy, it also helps feed us and keeps many parts of the world from going hungry. In the field ofagriculture, farmers and scientists use radioactive materials to grow hardier crops and more nutritious food products, breed disease-resistant livestock, and control insect pests without polluting the soil with chemicals. Today, food irradiation is recognized as one of the most effective weapons in the fight against the dangerous salmonella and E.coli microorganisms. More than 35 nations, including the United States, allow food irradiation to destroy dangerous bacteria and parasites in spices, wheat and flour, pork, fruits, vegetables and chicken.
Canada and more than 30 other countries throughout the world rely on splitting atoms for power generation. Today, the United States gets 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy, second only to coal. In 1996, nuclear energy was responsible for about 17 percent of all the electricity produced in the world.
Nuclear energy also generates the power to propel Navy submarines.
On land, radioactive materials are commonly employed in industrial and manufacturing processes to ensure product quality and safety. The airline industry uses radiation to test aircraft for structural cracks and stress, as well as for baggage scanning systems. It also is used to measure and control the thickness of paper, sheet metal and plastic. Radiation or radioactive isotopes help assure that hundreds of everyday consumer products, ranging from cosmetics to sterilized baby powder, are safe and pure. Household smoke detectors rely on a tiny radioactive source to sound the alarm, and radiation is even used to control the amount of air whipped into ice cream.
Not only has nuclear technology improved the quality of life on this planet, it also has made it possible for us to explore other planets. Twenty-four space probes and satellites have been powered by small radioactive sources for generating electricity to operate instruments, take pictures and transmit data back to Earth.
NUCLEAR POWER NEWS