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Nuclear Installations Safety
Devoted specifically to the safety of nuclear installations and the health and safety of the public, this division seeks a better understanding of the role of safety in the design, construction and operation of nuclear installation facilities. The division also promotes engineering and scientific technology advancement associated with the safety of such facilities.
2021 Student Conference
April 8–10, 2021
The Standards Committee is responsible for the development and maintenance of voluntary consensus standards that address the design, analysis, and operation of components, systems, and facilities related to the application of nuclear science and technology. Find out What’s New, check out the Standards Store, or Get Involved today!
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NC State celebrates 70 years of nuclear engineering education
An early picture of the research reactor building on the North Carolina State University campus. The Department of Nuclear Engineering is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its nuclear engineering curriculum in 2020–2021. Photo: North Carolina State University
The Department of Nuclear Engineering at North Carolina State University has spent the 2020–2021 academic year celebrating the 70th anniversary of its becoming the first U.S. university to establish a nuclear engineering curriculum. It started in 1950, when Clifford Beck, then of Oak Ridge, Tenn., obtained support from NC State’s dean of engineering, Harold Lampe, to build the nation’s first university nuclear reactor and, in conjunction, establish an educational curriculum dedicated to nuclear engineering.
The department, host to the 2021 ANS Virtual Student Conference, scheduled for April 8–10, now features 23 tenure/tenure-track faculty and three research faculty members. “What a journey for the first nuclear engineering curriculum in the nation,” said Kostadin Ivanov, professor and department head.
Nuclear science is far-reaching in the fabric of modern life. It can help explain the origins of the universe or how x-rays reveal the bones in your body. In fact, nuclear science is at the heart of so many of the technologies that improve our lives, that it’s easy to take for granted how those technologies came to be. But behind every innovation and discovery in the nuclear fields, is a scientist or engineer researching the atomic nucleus and how to use it to improve our lives.
Look around you. Everything you see, including you, is made of the same stuff—elements. Each of those elements has its own unique characteristics, but all elements are made of atoms—the smallest unit of an element that still has the characteristics of the element.
Scientists used to think there was nothing smaller than an atom.
Today, we know the atom is made of smaller particles, and those are made of even smaller particles.
The nucleus is made of protons and neutrons; each has the same mass: 1 amu (atomic mass unit).
Protons and neutrons aren’t exactly alike, though; protons have a positive charge while neutrons don’t have a charge.
Electrons are so small that they have nearly no mass at all. A single electron has only 1/1836 amu. Electrons are also negatively charged.
Organizing the Elements
All of the known elements are organized on the periodic table of the elements. They are arranged by atomic number, from smallest to largest, and labeled with their element symbol, atomic number, and atomic mass.
Standard Nuclear Notation
To easily communicate information about the elements, scientists use standard nuclear notation.
Nuclear notation is formed by writing an elemental symbol preceded by a subscript indicating its atomic number—the number of protons—and a superscript indicating its mass number—the number of protons and neutrons combined.
For example: Carbon has 6 protons, so it’s atomic number is 6.
Carbon's mass number is 12. How many neutrons does it have?
The mass number of an element is a round number; the atomic mass usually isn't. Atomic mass is an average mass of all of the isotopes of an element. We use the mass number, which is always a round number, to make calculations easier.
Think about clover. Clovers can have three, four, or even more leaves. The four-leaved clovers are rare, but they are still clovers. In a similar way, two atoms of an element can have different numbers of neutrons. Because they still have the same number of protons, though, they are the same element. These “varieties” of the same element are called isotopes.
Learn more about radioactivity
Last modified February 1, 2021, 10:04am CST