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Class Syllabus

Class Syllabus

January 13, 2014 00:061 comment

UPDATE (2014/1/20): I have created a Table of Contents page based on this outline. I will be updating it with links and more topics as I write them.


As a future nuclear engineer, one of my goals for this blog is to use it to educate others about radioactivity, nuclear energy, and radiation protection. There is an astounding amount of misinformation out there about these subjects, and it pains me whenever I hear or read something that is so incorrect that I don’t even know where to start correcting its mistakes. To combat this (and save future-me a lot of needless exasperation), I have decided that I will attempt to write a Layperson’s Guide to Nuclear Stuff (yeah, that title still needs a lot of work) so that a reader will be able to understand enough of the basic concepts that he or she will be able to critically assess the veracity of  a general interest piece about radiation or nuclear energy, such as a newspaper or magazine article, news report, viral video, ravings of a deranged homeless person, etc.

Judging by the shocked looks that I always get when I tell people what I study, most people think that nuclear engineering is amazingly difficult and hopelessly incomprehensible to them.

It really isn’t nearly that bad, I swear.

I will do my best to write using plain language whenever possible and to not go into too much unnecessary detail. The pace of this course will ultimately be dictated by the availability of my schedule, but I would like to aim for two articles per month.

Here is the tentative outline of topics that I would like to write about:

What is radiation?

Nuclear structure

Radioactive decay

How radiation is measured

Geiger counters

Solid state detectors

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear reactions

Fission reactors

Health effects of radiation

Units of exposure

Mechanisms of action

Deterministic effects

Stochastic effects

Principles of radiation protection

Radiation safety precautions

Exposure limits

Nuclear accidents

Three Mile Island

Chernobyl

Fukushima

If there are any missing topics that you are interested in, feel free to write them in the comments section below.

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