What are the characteristics of uranium, neptunium and plutonium?




                          Uranium is named after the planet Uranus and the Greek god of the heavens. The element is radioactive; and therefore, exposure to the element by humans can pose immediate threat to life. Uranium, a silvery white metal, was discovered and identified in 1789 by a German chemist, Martin H. Klaproth. This important element is used as fuel in nuclear reactors to generate electricity. It has the atomic number 92, and its atomic symbol is U.




                        Neptunium is the element number 93. It was discovered by Edwin McMillan and Philip Abelson, American physicists, in 1940. Compared to uranium, neptunium is not very radioactive. Neptunium’s current applications are limited. \The element is represented as Np.






                           Under standard conditions, plutonium is a hard, brittle, silvery metal. Plutonium is an extremely rare element in the earth’s crust. It is so rare that for many years, it was thought that it did not occur naturally.

                           Plutonium is used in both nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. It was plutonium that was used in the creation of the second nuclear weapon deployed during World War II known as the ‘Fat Man’, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, on 9th August 1945. Plutonium has the atomic number 94, and it is represented as Pu.


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