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Introduction

The Sun is the source of energy for most of life on Earth. As a star, the Sun is heated to high temperatures by the conversion of nuclear binding energy due to the fusion of hydrogen in its core. This energy is ultimately transferred (released) into space mainly in the form of radiant (light) energy.

In physics, energy is the quantitative property that must be transferred to an object in order to perform work on, or to heat, the object. Energy is a conserved quantity; the law of conservation of energy states that energy can be converted in form, but not created or destroyed. The SI unit of energy is the joule, which is the energy transferred to an object by the work of moving it a distance of 1 metre against a force of 1 newton.

Common forms of energy include the kinetic energy of a moving object, the potential energy stored by an object's position in a force field (gravitational, electric or magnetic), the elastic energy stored by stretching solid objects, the chemical energy released when a fuel burns, the radiant energy carried by light, and the thermal energy due to an object's temperature.

Mass and energy are closely related. Due to mass–energy equivalence, any object that has mass when stationary (called rest mass) also has an equivalent amount of energy whose form is called rest energy, and any additional energy (of any form) acquired by the object above that rest energy will increase the object's total mass just as it increases its total energy. For example, after heating an object, its increase in energy could be measured as a small increase in mass, with a sensitive enough scale.

Living organisms require energy to stay alive, such as the energy humans get from food. Human civilization requires energy to function, which it gets from energy resources such as fossil fuels, nuclear fuel, or renewable energy. The processes of Earth's climate and ecosystem are driven by the radiant energy Earth receives from the sun and the geothermal energy contained within the earth.

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Selected article

Ranger Uranium Mine in Kakadu National Park.jpeg
Nuclear testing, uranium mining and export, and nuclear energy have often been the subject of public debate in Australia, and the anti-nuclear movement in Australia has a long history. Its origins date back to the 1972–73 debate over French nuclear testing in the Pacific and the 1976–77 debate about uranium mining in Australia.

Several groups specifically concerned with nuclear issues were established in the mid-1970s, including the Movement Against Uranium Mining and Campaign Against Nuclear Energy (CANE), cooperating with other environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and the Australian Conservation Foundation. But by the late 1980s, the price of uranium had fallen, and the costs of nuclear power had risen, and the anti-nuclear movement seemed to have won its case. CANE disbanded itself in 1988.

As of 2010, Australia has no nuclear power stations and the current Gillard Labor government is opposed to nuclear power for Australia. Australia has three operating uranium mines at Olympic Dam (Roxby) and Beverley - both in South Australia's north - and at Ranger in the Northern Territory. As of April 2009, construction has begun on South Australia's third uranium mine—the Honeymoon Uranium Mine. Read more...


Selected image

NesjavellirPowerPlant edit2.jpg

Photo credit: From an image by Grétar Ívarsson
Geothermal power, the harnessing of geothermal heat to generate electricity, is used in over 20 countries.


Did you know?

  • Despite projections of producing four times as much power as it used in heating, the Riggatron fusion reactor was never built due to a lack of funding?

Selected biography

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Marion King Hubbert (1903–1989) was a geophysicist who made several important contributions to geology and geophysics, most notably the Hubbert curve and Hubbert peak theory (or peak oil), with important political ramifications.

Born in Texas, Hubbert studied geology, mathematics, and physics at the University of Chicago. He pursued his Ph.D. while working for the Amerada Petroleum Company, then worked for the Shell Oil Company from 1943 until 1964. On leaving Shell he became a senior research geophysicist for the United States Geological Survey until retiring in 1976. Hubbert was also a professor at Stanford University and at UC Berkeley.

Hubbert is most well-known for his studies on the capacities of oil fields and natural gas reserves. He predicted that, for any given geographical area, the rate of petroleum production over time would resemble a bell curve. At the 1956 meeting of the American Petroleum Institute, Hubbert predicted that United States petroleum production would peak in the late 1960s or early 1970s. He became famous when his prediction came true in 1970.

In 1974, Hubbert projected that global oil production would peak in 1995 "if current trends continue". Various subsequent predictions have been made by others as trends have fluctuated in the intervening years. Hubbert's theory, and its implications for the world economy, remain controversial. Read more...


In the news

11 January 2020 – Politics of Northern Ireland, Executive of the 6th Northern Ireland Assembly
Following a deal brokered by the British and Irish governments, the Northern Ireland Executive is restored with Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster as First Minister and Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill as deputy First Minister, ending three years of political deadlock. The previous government had collapsed in 2017 as the result of a renewable energy scandal involving Foster. (Euronews)
2 December 2019 –
International Atomic Energy Agency approved Rafael Grossi as the new Director General.(IAEA)

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