Introductory Neutronics/Nuclear Processes

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Though the exact nature of the atomic structure is still debated among physicists, for the purposes of designing and analyzing nuclear reactors, the "classic" model of an atomic nucleus (consisting of N neutrons and Z protons) surrounded by a cloud of electrons is sufficiently accurate. While the exact mechanism by which the neutrons and protons are bound together is irrelevant, it is important to note that (being electrically neutral) neutrons are not repelled by the strong positive electric field generated by the protons but are only attracted to the nucleus by the nuclear force which is strongly dependent on distance.