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Question about which branch of physics this would be

  1. Jun 23, 2011 #1
    Question about which "branch" of physics this would be...

    I posted this in General since I wasn't sure... and it's not an actual problem, per se, just an inquiry about the fields of physics... (sorry if this is the wrong forum >_>)

    During work at lunch one day, I was stumbling through wikipedia articles and found myself reading about nuclear power plants, reactor cores, and how they are powered through the fusion of uranium and plutonium.

    As a mechanical engineer, this was all very interesting to me, even though I don't know much about the "fusion" of said materials - but I'd like to learn. I began clicking on things like nuclear decay, and radioactivity, half life, etc etc....

    My question is - what kind of book or source can I buy/go to that would be a good "starter" guide for understanding radioactivity and related topics like this? Radioactive energy and such.

    Thanks guys!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2011 #2
    Re: Question about which "branch" of physics this would be...

    You're probably wondering about nuclear fisson processes, not fusion.

    With regards to radioactivity, half-life etc., these can be relatively simple concepts to understand in a macroscopic sense. We have simple statistical models that describe radioactive decay very well.

    If you want to know the mechanics of radioactive decay, things can easily become very, very complicated. If you're looking for clarity on a subject, and unless you're especially dedicated with a lot of time on your hands, quantum mechanics is rarely the answer.

    The introductory, classical stuff on radioactivity, that's usually included in most of the general physics texts available to undergrads. As an engineer, don't you have some of these books lying around?
  4. Jun 23, 2011 #3
    Re: Question about which "branch" of physics this would be...

    Unfortunately, not a general physics book. The only books I kept from college were books regarding fluid mechanics, heat transfer, manufacturing process, materials, and static/dyanmic related books.

    I've read a few books on quantum physics before, and so I know how mind-numbing those can be. I should've clarified - I'm just looking for a slightly more simple, or basic, means by which to understand radiation, decay, fission (my mistake for the fusion typo), etc, basically to understand how the heat/energy is produced through the uranium in reactors. And granted, I could just look that up on the internet, but after having read a bit on reactor cores through various wikipedia articles and such, I'm growing more curious about radioactive stuff in general - not just uranium.
  5. Jun 23, 2011 #4
    Re: Question about which "branch" of physics this would be...

    Pick up any "Modern Physics" book. They should all have sections on basic nuclear physics. Beyond that, the book we used for my Nuclear Physics class is WSC Williams "Nuclear and Particle Physics," it certainly has all the information you're looking for, but I found it difficult to read.
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