PHYS 142: The Nuclear Age

Study of the interrelationships between science, society, and Christianity. Analysis of political and social topics in which science plays a critical role in contemporary life. One hour lecture and three hours lab each week. Liberal Arts.

Choose one:
1.  Nuclear technology will usher in an age of progress, peace and well-being by providing nearly unlimited inexpensive and clean energy through nuclear fission and fusion, by creating new treatments and ways to diagnose diseases using radioisotopes and tomography, by safeguarding food supplies with irradiation and by keeping us safe by detecting contraband and terrorist’s bombs.

2.  Nuclear technology is inherently unsafe and the risk of accidents is unacceptable. If used, these technologies will contaminate the Earth with radioactivity, lead to accidents and release radiation into populated areas causing birth defects, cancer and even death on a large scale. Moreover, all Christians agree nuclear weapons should be immediately destroyed.

What is the truth? How do these technologies work? Is it possible to have the benefits without the risks? Are the risks sometimes worth it? Do all Christians agree? This class will provide you with historical background, scientific information, and relevant experiences that will allow you to better address these questions.

Useful Information

Class Time                         TR 2:30-4:20 PM, Paine 118
Instructor                          Dr. Yuly
Office Hours                      
MWRF 10:00-11:00 AM
Location                             Paine 105
Teaching Assistant           Katelyn Cook

“Transmutation of the elements,–unlimited power, ability to investigate the working of living cells by tracer atoms, the secret of photosynthesis about to be uncovered,–these and a host of other results all in 15 short years....  This is the forecast for an age of peace.” -- Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Lewis Strauss,  1954.

In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose. -- J. Robert Oppenheimer, First Director of the Los Alamos Laboratory.


Course Schedule
Poster Assignment
Poster Template


Problem Set #1
Problem Set #2
Problem Set #3


#0 -- Introduction
#1 -- Atomic Nucleus
#2 -- Nuclear Reactions
#3 -- Radiation
#4 -- Radioactive decay
#5 -- Radioisotopes
#6 -- Radiation Detectors
#7 -- Radiation Background
#8 -- Biological effects
#9 -- Uses of radiation
#10 -- Future
#11 -- Energy and power
#12 -- Electricity and power plants
#13 -- Energy from the nucleus
#14 -- Posters and fallacies
#17 -- Nuclear fission


Lab #1 -- Cloud Chamber
Lab #2 -- Reactions Worksheet
Lab #3 -- Is it Radioactive?
Lab #4 -- Radioactive half-life
Lab #5 -- Gamma ray attenuation
Lab #6 -- Detectors
Lab #7 -- Dose Estimator
Lab #8 -- Irradatiated seeds
Lab #9 -- Make a radiograph
Lab #10 -- Energy worksheet
Lab #11 -- Electric generator
Lab #12 -- E=mc2 worksheet
Lab #13 -- Logical fallacies
Lab #14 -- Historical timeline

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