One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The chemical element of atomic number 94, a dense silvery radioactive metal of the actinide series, used as a fuel in nuclear reactors and as an explosive in nuclear fission weapons. Plutonium only occurs in trace amounts in nature but is manufactured in nuclear reactors from uranium-238.
- ‘The waste from a defunct reactor is full of plutonium, a highly toxic metal used as the explosive in atomic bombs.’
- ‘Some had received large doses of densely ionizing radiation while processing plutonium.’
- ‘No one is going to steal our plutonium - it is too well guarded, too hard to handle, too dangerous.’
- ‘Experts say that breathing in even the tiniest amounts of plutonium can increase the risk of cancer, especially among children.’
- ‘Part of the research involved injecting a number of people with radioactive plutonium.’
- ‘Thus, even today, it has only enough plutonium for one or two crude nuclear devices.’
- ‘Reprocessing is only for the purpose of harvesting plutonium to make weapons.’
- ‘The plant reprocesses deadly plutonium to make fuel for nuclear power stations.’
- ‘Given enough plutonium or enriched uranium, he thought they might have been able to produce a bomb in two to three years.’
- ‘No one is proposing to make bombs out of the small amount of plutonium produced.’
- ‘Workers at the facility were exposed to radiation as well as the chemicals uranium, plutonium and fluorine.’
- ‘The only manufacturing left on the site when reprocessing goes will be the plant for making nuclear fuel from plutonium and uranium oxides.’
- ‘The use of Australian uranium always involves the production of plutonium.’
- ‘The difference is the commercial grade is different from the weapons grade plutonium.’
- ‘To develop a comprehensive set of nuclear weapons, enriched plutonium and uranium are needed.’
- ‘These were bombarded with neutrons which converted the uranium to plutonium.’
- ‘A highly radioactive solution of water, plutonium and uranium is constantly leaking out.’
- ‘While plutonium can be used in nuclear weapons it also has civilian purposes, including power generation.’
- ‘The amount of plutonium you need for a bomb is the size of a grapefruit and weighs about 20 pounds.’
- ‘Accidents could result in explosions which could spread plutonium and other harmful radioactivity over large areas, it says.’
1940s: from Greek ‘Pluto’, on the pattern of neptunium, being the next planet beyond Neptune.
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