The Fascinating Properties and Uses of Plutonium

TLDR Plutonium, discovered by Glenn Seaborg, is a highly toxic and radioactive element that can be used in nuclear weapons and reactors. However, it also has valuable properties such as high radioactivity and the ability to generate heat, making it useful for deep space probes.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Plutonium, the non-natural element with atomic number 94, was discovered by Glenn Seaborg and has fascinating properties that make it both useful and dangerous.
02:14 Plutonium, element 94, was discovered by Glenn Seaborg and named after the planet Neptune, and while it is not naturally occurring, there are trace amounts found on Earth and it is primarily created through nuclear fission.
04:09 Plutonium 239 is fissile and can be used in bombs and reactors, while plutonium 238 is highly radioactive with a short half-life and is not fissile, but both forms of plutonium are highly toxic.
06:09 Plutonium is highly toxic, radioactive, and can burst into flames, and has been involved in criticality accidents resulting in massive radiation exposure, but its initial purpose was for nuclear weapons and demand has decreased since the end of the Cold War.
08:05 Plutonium is used for deep space probes because of its high radioactivity and ability to generate heat for a long period of time, which is necessary for powering spacecraft beyond the reach of solar panels.
10:03 Plutonium-238 is the only isotope that can practically power an RTG, and it has been used in various applications such as nuclear-powered lighthouses and pacemakers, but its main use is in deep space probes due to its ability to generate heat for long periods of time.
11:51 Plutonium-238 is extremely valuable and difficult to produce, with current production at only 400 grams per year, but NASA hopes to triple that amount by 2025.
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