AP Physics 2 : Fusion and Fission

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Physics 2

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Fusion And Fission

__________ is the process of combining two or more atoms into a single, larger atom. __________ is the process of splitting a single atom into two or more smaller atoms. __________ can occur in nature—in a star, for example. __________ doesn't normally occur in nature.

Possible Answers:

Fission . . . Fusion . . . Fission . . . Fusion

Fission . . . Fusion . . . Fusion . . . Fission

Fusion . . . Fission . . . Fission . . . Fusion

None of the other answers is correct

Fusion . . . Fission . . . Fusion . . . Fission

Correct answer:

Fusion . . . Fission . . . Fusion . . . Fission


Fusion is the process of combining two or more atoms to form a larger atom. To remember this, think of how welders fuse metals together. (Though the term is the same, they aren't actually the same thing; this is just to help you remember.). Fusion is a very energetic reaction that takes place in high-heat, high-pressure environments, like the inside of stars. Fusion releases lots of energy, which is why stars are so energetic.

Fission is the process of splitting a signle atom into multiple atoms. It doesn't normally occur in nature, though some super heavy elements, like plutonium, can be spontaneously fissile, which means they can undergo fission seemingly at random. This is a rare thing for an element to do, which is why it's said that fission doesn't normally occur in nature.

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