Tuesday, July 8, 2008

JJNN 44 July 8th, 2008

Welcome again to JJNN for Tuesday July 8th, 2008. Today I will be talking about concrete walls.

I found the this story here. This is a story of a slightly different concrete wall produced by Japan's Atomic Energy Agency and a research laboratory that is based in Kumagaya. A few of you may be wondering what the Atomic Energy Agency would want to produce a new type of concrete wall. Well, the goal of this wall is to absorb neutron radiation.

Neutron radiation is another try of nuclear radiation that occurs during radioactive decay. I talked about radioactive decay on July 5th. In neutron radiation the nucleus of an atom releases one high energy neutron. This type of radiation can be found in places like nuclear power plants and around places that give PET scans.

The best way to protect people from neutron radiation is to hide them behind thick walls of concrete. Neutrons don't really interact with anything that is not organic so a neutron will go right though a thin wall. The fact that thick concrete walls are needed places limits on the construction of nuclear power plants and medical facilities. There is where the new type of concrete comes to the rescue. This new type of concrete will absorb a lot of the neutrons that try to pass though it. This means that thinner walls give the same protection as the traditional thick walls. This discovery may lead to a construction revolution. I would like to see where this goes.

I would also like to tell you more about the wall, but not a lot of information was given. I would like to think that the lack of information was because the company is still testing the wall, not because Yomiuri does not know how to report on science. I really want to know what is in that wall that helps to stop the neutrons.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 中性子(ちゅうせいし). It is pronounced chuuseishi and means neutron. Neutrons are particles that don't have a net electric charge. They are made up of smaller particles called quarks. The quarks that make up the neutron are the up quark and 2 down quarks. I know that sounds funny, but it is really interesting. Maybe I will poke at quarks in a post some time.

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.

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