George H.

asked • 07/31/14

Where does the mass to energy conversion take place?

As I understand, the nuclear bomb "little boy" detonated over Hiroshima converted about the mass of a paper clip into energy during the explosion. Now, as far as I understand what was going on, uranium 235 atoms were exposed to californium, an element whose radiation takes the form of neutrons. The neutrons smashed into the uranium 235 atoms, causing fission, and a chain reaction because after one atom was split it would make all the atoms around it split, et cetera. However, in all the explanations I have seen for this, there was never anything about where mass --> energy conversion happened. There is no account for particular neutrons turning into energy, and I would like to know where and when that happened. I know little about the topic, but I thought maybe it happened when a neutron got a "head on collision" with another neutron, but of course that would lead you to assume a lot more than the mass of a paper clip turning into energy, as the bomb was a couple tons in weight. On a broader note, I would just like to know where this mass --> energy conversion happens in everyday (or every other day) reactions such as sodium and water, baking soda and vinegar, mentos and coke, Thermite, Nuclear Fusion (like in our sun) etc. Once again, I would like to know where and when mass is converted into energy in the above. Thank you.
-- George 

1 Expert Answer


Philip P. answered • 08/01/14

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