Science: Breeding Atoms

Experts called it the biggest atomic news since the end of World War II. The Atomic Energy Commission revealed last week that it is now considered practical to build a nuclear reactor which will "breed" more atomic fuel than it consumes.

Uranium is a tricky element. As it comes from the mines, it contains only .7% of the active isotope U-235, whose atoms "fission" (split in two) with a big release of energy. Nearly all the rest is 11-238, an idle isotope which will not fission naturally, though its heavy nucleus contains about the same energy as 11-235.

When natural uranium is put...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!