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So how does nuclear science make our lives better?

Nuclear science means more than power plants and national security. ORNL researchers use nuclear science in the areas of fission, fusion, radioisotopes, and advanced computer modeling and simulation to develop advances in human health, energy, and scientific applications that benefit our nation.

Remote hot cell operation manipulators
Ever wonder how scientists safely handle radioactive materials? No introduction to nuclear science would be complete without testing your skills in the “hot cell” simulator. Because many sources of radiation are dangerous to humans, scientists must wear more than just gloves when handling highly contaminated materials. A “manipulator” allows an operator to safely handle highly radioactive and radioactively contaminated materials and components. Ready to give it a try? You’ll need concentration and a steady grip as you use remote robotic “hands” to safely move mockup radioactive materials in a research hot cell.

Radiation detection
Radiation is not always dangerous—especially if it’s at the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum. We’re exposed to lower-energy, non-ionizing radiation daily when we use a microwave for heating our lunch, text our friends using a smartphone, or finish our homework using a laptop computer. While this exposure is generally safe, there are situations where detecting dangerous levels of radiation is essential to ensuring public and worker safety. Find out what happens when you use special “roadside tracker” technology to detect a simulated elicit shipment of special nuclear material on a model train. Then watch as you use handheld radiation detectors in a glovebox to measure and identify naturally occurring, low-level radioactive materials.

Nuclear power technology
Watch a 3D visualization of fission power reactor data that demonstrates the power of advanced computing on understanding and improving our power reactor technologies. Also see a fusion reactor pellet injector that fires cryogenic pellets into a fusion reactor and learn about “fueling, tickling and terminating” the fusion plasma. Then learn from ORNL scientists how a spinning centrifuge separates isotopes and other materials—such as the way cream is separated from the milk at dairy farms.

"Tiny Atoms... Big Science" trailer

Visit the "Tiny Atoms... Big Science" trailer to learn more about radiation detection and how scientists handle radioactive material!