Sunday, May 18, 2008
Speaking of Persistent Popular Misconceptions...
which we were in the ID thread, what's up with the persistence of the idea that Einstein's formulation of E=mc2 led 'to the development of the atomic bomb and nuclear power', as I just read a book called A Perfect Mess? The energy released from atomic fission and fusion is due to the fact that the elementts in the middle of the periodic table tend to have lower potential energy than those above or below them -- I think Iron-56 is the trough -- so that converting a very light or very heavy element to one closer to the middle releases the energy difference. E=mc2 has no more to do with the process than it does with the release of energy from a fire -- which is to say it is useful in calculating the energy released, but not for understanding the basic process. In some alternate universe, the atomic bomb could have been developed before E=mc2 was discovered. And you don't need to study advanced physics to figure this out-- just have access to Wikipedia.
Is shaping up nicely .