The atom is the smallest particle of matter. It is made up of still smaller particles called electrons (negatively charged), protons (positively charged) and neutrons (with no charge). The main part of the atom lies at its center and is called the nucleus. It consists of protons and neutrons. When the nucleus is broken up, energy is produced. This breaking up of a heavy nucleus into parts with the release of energy is called nuclear fission. Atomic energy means the tremendous (very great) energy released from the atomic nucleus.
Radioactive elements like uranium, having a large number of protons and giving out radiations, are commonly used for producing nuclear energy. The nuclei of these elements are bombarded with highspeed particles resulting in atomic fission. Thus, a small amount of radioactive substance is converted (changed) into a tremendous amount of nuclear energy.
Scientists, first of all, made use of atomic energy for destructive purposes. They developed the atomic bomb, and then the hydrogen and cobalt bombs, which can destroy whole cities and kill millions of people. There is the danger that all our modern civilization and most human beings may get destroyed if there is an atomic or nuclear World War.
Atomic or nuclear energy can be of great benefit if it is used for peaceful purposes alone. Scientists have started using it for the good of society. The advanced countries already produce a great deal of their electricity from the atom. Now other countries are trying to produce electricity at cheap rates from atomic power plants. We have such a plant at Karachi and may have more at other places. Small · amounts of radioactive materials are used in these plants to produce electricity on a very large scale.
Scientists are also trying to find ways of using atomic power as fuel for ships, airplanes, motorcars, and so on. They think most of the oil and coal may finish in 100 years. In their place, uranium and thorium can be used. At present atomic reactors for boiling water are in use in various countries. Huge quantities of water can be boiled quickly and at low costs for industrial and other purposes.
The radiations given out by atomic reactors are sometimes used for the treatment of diseases like cancer. These radiations are also used to kill dangerous germs and insects in foods and cultivated fields. All countries should enter into agreements for the use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes alone. We should make the best use of atomic energy for the benefit of all human beings.