[FOUNTAIN]Plutonium, like IAEA, has 2 faces

Home > Opinion > Columns

print dictionary print

[FOUNTAIN]Plutonium, like IAEA, has 2 faces

A common map of the solar system depicts nine planets revolving around the Sun,: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
However, the map is a trick to include all nine planets on a piece of paper. If we consider the relative size and distance to each other, it is nearly impossible to draw the diagram of the solar system.
If the earth were represented as the size of a pea, Jupiter would be drawn 300 meters (930 feet) away from Earth, and Pluto, the furthest outer known planet in the solar system, would be 2.4 kilometers away from the sun.
Pluto, which is 5.9 billion kilometers away from Earth, was discovered in 1930. Neptune’s orbit suggested it was there, but it took over 80 years for astronomers to find Pluto because it was surprisingly dark and small, just half the area of the United States. It was named after the god of the underworld because it was so dark.
When a new element with atomic number 94 was discovered in 1940, the scientists followed the custom of the time and named it plutonium; element 92 is uranium, after Uranus, and element 93 is neptunium.
A man-made element created by bombarding uranium with deuterium atoms, plutonium is one of the most toxic substances in the world.
Along with uranium, plutonium can be used as an ingredient for a nuclear bomb. The atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945 was made from plutonium. It was coincidental that the deadly element was named after the god of the underworld, but plutonium fits the bill.
At the same time, plutonium is a highly efficient fuel for generating atomic energy. Plutonium is an element with two very contradictory faces.
The International Atomic Energy Agency sent a second inspection team to Korea this year to investigate a plutonium experiment in the 1980s.
In contrast, the nuclear watchdog announced a few months ago that it would halve the number of inspections set to Japan, a country that holds several dozen tons of plutonium.
It decided that Japan’s use of atomic energy held no concerns for diverting the plutonium to make nuclear weapons. The international community’s worrisome attitude toward Korea’s nuclear situation is as dark as Pluto.


by Lee Se-jung

The writer is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

More in Columns

Who’s laughing now?

Fighting Chinese patriotism

The curse of the presidency

You must talk science

[20th Anniversary] A new form of globalism is on the rise

Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now