Nuclear Science Quiz

Staff

4 Min Quiz

The word "atom" comes from the Greek word "atomos," meaning:

The ancient Greek philosopher Democritus named the smallest elemental particles atomos, meaning "unable to be cut."

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True or false: Atoms are the smallest possible parts of an element that "is" that element.

Though the name "atom" was originally intended to mean "a particle that cannot be broken," science has come a long way since the time of the ancient Greeks. An atom now refers to the smallest possible bit of silver or carbon or oxygen, for instance, on Earth. However, break any atom down further and you find the subatomic particles. The number of them, and the way they are arranged, gives the chemical blueprint of that element.

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Which of the following subatomic particles is never found in the nucleus of an atom?

Electrons are found in a cloud (sometimes referred to as successive "shells," though there is not the hardness associated with a shell) around the nucleus of an atom, which contains neutrons and protons.

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How do you figure out the charge of a charged particle, or ion?

Electrons carry a negative charge. Protons carry a positive charge. And neutrons are neutral; they don't carry a charge. An ion (a charged particle that is singular and not bonded to any other particles) with an excess of electrons will be negatively charged. If its protons outnumber its electrons, it's positive.

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How are molecules formed out of atoms?

Electrons orbit each atom's nucleus in what are referred to as shells. Each shell has a maximum number of electrons it can hold. For instance, the first shell holds two. If an atom had three electrons, two would exist in the first shell and one in the second. Atoms tend to behave as if attempting to achieve the state of having a full outer shell, and will lose or gain electrons accordingly. In the case we just described, the atom would be considered relatively unstable. The second shell can hold eight electrons, but it only has one. That electron will be likely to be drawn to another atom, an atom that only needs one electron to complete its outer shell, perhaps. Atoms with a full outer shell are more stable and less likely to bond.

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Which of the following is NOT the name of a molecular bond?

The two most common types of molecular bond are ionic bonds and covalent bonds. Molecular bonds that are formed by the exchange of electrons from one atom to another are called ionic bonds, because the result of the exchange will be two ions (charged particles) that will be drawn to each other (bonded), by the attraction between their opposite charges. A covalent bond is formed when two atoms share electrons.

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True or false: Nuclear energy is created through splitting molecules.

Nuclear energy is created by splitting atoms.

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Which of the following is a hazard of using nuclear energy as a power source?

Nuclear waste disposal is a major drawback to the use of nuclear energy. Even setting aside tragic nuclear power plant accidents like the ones at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima Daiichi, the long-term storage of waste that will be deadly poisonous for thousands of years is one of the major reasons its opponents give for trying to end its use.

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Which article of clothing was oddly named for a nuclear testing site?

Bizarrely, when French designer Louis Reard debuted his risqué two-piece bathing suit for the first time in Paris, he chose to name it after a well-publicized nuclear weapons testing site, the Bikini islands. Perhaps it was because he was in competition with a second designer, Jacques Heim, who had named his suit (which was a bit less revealing) the Atome, and claimed that it was "the smallest bathing suit in the world." When Reard made his, he claimed to have "split the atom." Too bad he didn't name it something nice like the Einstein.

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About This Quiz

Want to learn about the Large Hadron Collider? Do you know which item of clothing was named after an event in nuclear physics? Take the quiz, and the gaps in your knowledge will get smaller, and smaller. And smaller. And smaller…

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