Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

Probably he got caught in a steel trap like this one over here," their dad said, pointing to an exhibit in the next case.
"But how could he get free from that?" Julie asked.

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– posted 12.04.2009

#60- Chain Reactions

A Character story about love.

"Hey, what's it between you and Jonathan?" Julie asked as the twins walked up the snowy driveway after school Tuesday.
"Ah, I don't know," Jason shrugged. "I think he's jealous because we got a computer for Christmas. Ever since I told him about it, he has acted cool toward me."
"Why would he be jealous about that? I thought you were best friends."
"We are, or I should say- were. Anyway, he only got a pocket calculator for Christmas. He probably thought it wasn't much compared to what we got."
"Maybe. But it doesn't seem to me that Jonathan would be mad at you for that."
"That's what I had thought. Anyway, I told Steve, Mike, and Tom how he was acting and they said they'd stay clear of him too. Maybe the cool treatment in return will show him how immature he's acting."
At the supper table that night, Jason asked, "Dad, I have to do a science report on nuclear reactors. I haven't got a clue about them. Can you get me started?"
"I'd be glad to try, Son. When is it due?"
"In two weeks, but I don't want to wait till the last minute."
"And, Mom," Julie inserted, "I'm going to do mine on baby care. Will you work together with me on it? I've learned so much since Joshua was born and I know it will help make my report interesting."
"Sounds good to me," Mrs. Jensen responded. "You've been such a help to me. I'd be glad to help you in return. Maybe we can work on it a little after I get Joshua in bed."
When the dishes were finished, Julie sat down at the kitchen table and began to page through some books while she waited for her mom. Mr. Jensen got some stick matches and some play dough from the cupboard. He then inserted 28 of the matches close together in a diamond-shaped pattern. "A nuclear reactor works on the principle of a controlled chain reaction, Jason," he began. "First, I'll demonstrate an uncontrolled chain reaction." He lit a match and held it to one corner of the match pattern. Almost immediately the fire spread across the heads and all 28 matches were blazing. "You see, one match lit others around them and these lit others around them, and so on, until everything was ablaze. This is called a chain reaction."
"Do nuclear reactors have matches in them?" Jason asked.
"No," Mr. Jensen answered with a grin. "But the principle is the same. Let me explain it this way. The atoms of the fuel in a reactor have extra particles in them called neutrons and the atoms of fuel want to get rid of them. When these particles fly out from the atom, it is called radiation. If the particle hits another atom and knocks particles out of it, and they in turn hit another atom, and so on, then you have a nuclear chain reaction. If the speed of this is not controlled, it will quickly get out of hand. This is what happens in an atomic bomb. Only about 20 pounds of fuel is needed to blow up an entire city this way."
"Wow!" Jason responded. "Is that what happened in Japan in the second world war?"
"Exactly. Just a small chain reaction out of control can do a lot of damage."
"So why doesn't a nuclear reactor blow up?" Jason asked.
"Good question. You see, in order for this chain reaction to take place, you must have a certain quantity of pure radioactive fuel. This quantity is called the critical mass. A reactor has enough pure fuel for a small chain reaction but not enough for an explosion. Control rods are inserted into the fuel to limit the number of particles that are flying around. This keeps the chain reaction from getting out of control."
"Oh. I understand now," Jason beamed. "That's neat. Thanks."
"That reminds me of what Jason did today," Julie commented.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Jason scowled.
"When you were mad at Jonathan, you told the other guys and now they're mad at him too. It sounds just like a chain reaction."
"Oh? What's this about, Son?" Mr. Jensen asked gravely.
"It's nothing. I don't know why Sis had to mention it at all. It's just that Jonathan got jealous of me because we got a computer so now we're giving him a taste of his own medicine."
"And you talked with him about it?"
"Uh, no, not exactly. But ever since I told him about the computer, he's acted cool toward me. So I figured-"
"So you decided why he was mad at you and then told others what you thought?"
"Uh, yeah . . . I guess so." A long silence followed, a silence that made Jason even more uncomfortable. Finally, he said, "I-I guess that wasn't too good, was it?"
"No, Son, it wasn't very good at all. Jesus said, if your brother, or friend, has something against you, you should go to him alone and seek to be reconciled."
"But I can't help it if I got a better Christmas present than he did," Jason protested.
"True, but just make sure you don't give him the idea that you think you're better because of it. And you surely don't need to go tell others that someone isn't acting right. That just isn't Christian love."
"Yeah. I know you're right. Do you think I should apologize to the other guys?"
"What will happen if you don't?" Mr. Jensen asked.
"I-I guess they'll just stay mad at Jonathan."
"Yes, even after you're gotten your differences worked out. When we're mad at someone for something they did to someone else, it is called 'taking up a reproach' and the Bible forbids this in Psalm 15."
"O.K. I'll take care of it first thing in the morning. I hate to be the cause of a reaction. And, uh, Julie, I'm sorry for being mad at you for telling Dad. I know you were right."
"That's O.K.," she grinned. "I really wasn't trying to tattle."
"Yeah, I know."
"Well," Mr. Jensen said with a smile, "that's one reaction that has been defused already!"


HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT NUCLEAR REACTORS?
1. What is the name of the most common fuel used in reactors?
2. One pellet of fuel the size of a pencil eraser gives as much heat as a) 20 gallons of oil b) 100 gallons of oil c)150 gallons of oil.
3. In an emergency, engineers must be able to shut down a nuclear reaction in a) an hour b) a minute c) a second d) less than a second.
4. The fuel pellets (sometimes over 4 million of them) are replaced how often? a) every week b) every month c) every year d) every three years e) every 10 years f) they do not ever run out.






ANSWERS: 1. Uranium 2. c 3. d 4. d