Nuclear fission of stable elements in human body

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Curiosity Science Chemistry Nuclear fission of stable elements in human body

  • Okay, so I understand that fission is when you seperate an atoms nucleus which sets off a great amount of energy. I understand that the body is made up of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, sodium,  chlorine, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, manganese, iodine, molybdenum, lithium, chromium, cobalt. My question is which one or which ones are able to go through a nuclear fission and how much energy is produced by this. Ultimately I want to know how much electricity does a human body contain considering we split the atom to make energy. Thanks

    – Asked by Christopher via the ask a science question page.

  • Hi Christopher,

    To expand on what’s nuclear fission is, it’s the reaction where you split an atom into two or more atoms by bombarding a neutron into it. However, only heavier elements (that have 92 or more protons) can undergo nuclear fission as they are unstable and easy enough to ‘break’ them.

    The ones you listed are lighter elements (with less than 92 protons) and are very stable, hence they wouldn’t undergo fission. And if you split them, it would only absorb energy rather than release it.

    Maybe you can fuse hydrogen to create a fusion reaction, but you’d need the temperature and pressure conditions to be like the one at the core of the Sun to do that.

    Still, for the sake of curiosity, you can get the total energy from the mass of the human body. Considering an average of 60 kg, using e = mc2, the energy from the elements that make up an average human body is 5.3 x 1018 J. Compared to this, the energy from the Tsar Bomba detonation is 2.1 x 1017 J.

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