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The isotopes uranium-235 and plutonium-239 were selected by the atomic scientists because they readily undergo fission. Fission occurs when a neutron strikes the nucleus of either isotope, splitting the nucleus into fragments and releasing a tremendous amount of energy. The fission process becomes self-sustaining as neutrons produced by the splitting of atom strike nearby nuclei and produce more fission. This is known as a chain reaction and is what causes an atomic explosion.
When a uranium-235 atom absorbs a neutron and fissions into two new atoms, it releases three new neutrons and some binding energy. Two neutrons do not continue the reaction because they are lost or absorbed by a uranium-238 atom. However, one neutron does collide with an atom of uranium-235, which then fissions and releases two neutrons and some binding energy. Both of those neutrons collide with uranium-235 atoms, each of which fission and release between one and three neutrons, and so on. This causes a nuclear chain reaction.
1) Matter can be created and destroyed (it's energy that you're thinking of. It can't be created or destroyed, just changed from one form to another).
originally posted by: feldercarb
a reply to: Gothmog
Like I said previously. The Law of Thermodynamics was change to include nuclear reactions. Thus, the combination of matter and energy is conserved but they can convert between the two using Einstein's E=MC(squared). Until Meitner reviewed her former partner Hahn's experimental work; there had never been a situation where mass had been converted to energy. Hahn had thought his experiment had been contaminated originally. Meitner and her nephew were the ones to show that Hahn's experiment had followed according to Einstein's proposal of E=MC^2.
As long as you are not dealing with nuclear fission or fusion, then the original laws of Thermodynamics hold true. You cannot create or lose mass. You also can not create or lose energy. Only during nuclear reactions can mass be lost and energy created.
originally posted by: vonclod
They weren't sure the plutonium device would work, kind of a test I suppose. They knew of course the uranium device(simpler) would work.