United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

What Do You Know?

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Science 101: What Do You Know?

Image of a blackboard with a professor-person figure wearing a graduation cap and holding a pointer to the blackboard and with the words NRC's Science 101How much do you know about radiation, nuclear energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission?

Test your knowledge with these 10 questions. Select the question to view the answer. No cheating!

What is the basic building block of matter?


The atom!

What is "background radiation"?


The natural radiation that is always present in the environment, including radiation from the sun, stars and the earth itself. The typical average exposure in the U.S. from background radiation is about 310 millirems per year.

What is a chemical?


Any substance that has a defined composition. In other words, a chemical is always made up of the same "stuff."

What does a nuclear power plant make?



What does nuclear fuel start with?


Uranium ore.

What is a Geiger counter?


The Geiger counter is an instrument sensitive enough to detect ionization (radiation).

What is atomic number 94?


Plutonium is a radioactive, metallic element discovered in 1940 by scientists studying the process of splitting atoms. Plutonium is created in a nuclear reactor when uranium atoms, specifically uranium-238, absorb neutrons.

Why is spent fuel put in a pool?


Spent fuel is very hot and radioactive, and put in pools when it's taken out of the reactor.  These pools contain an enormous quantity of water—enough to cover the fuel by about 20 feet. The water cools the fuel and shields workers at the plant from radioactivity.

What are PWRs and BWRs?


Both are types of nuclear power plants — pressurized water reactor and boiling water reactor.

What is the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission?


An independent federal government agency responsible for regulating the commercial use of nuclear materials.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is an independent federal government agency responsible for regulating the commercial use of nuclear materials. This document is free of copyright and can be reproduced for educational purposes.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, October 19, 2018