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Nuclear power can be a fickle thing. What other substance on Earth is powered by uranium, supplies energy to Mars and is in one in five U.S. households? Scary as it may sound, the answer is nuclear energy. As of 2014, there are 435 nuclear power plants operating in 30 countries around the world. The controversial energy source comes to life when microscopic atoms unleash a powerhouse of energy through either fusion (combining with other atoms) or fission (splitting from other atoms). When harnessed and wielded for public utilities, factories and even to power cars, the radioactive fuel source can have both amazing and devastating potential. (Sufficed to say, if all nuclear safety inspectors were like Homer Simpson, we'd all be in a lot of trouble.)
So what's the big deal about nuclear energy? Well, in the same way it can stimulate a prosperous alternative energy economy, it can also be used to build weapons and destroy lives. Opponents also question the negative health effects nuclear energy can expose to the public, in addition to the workers who interact with the matter on a daily basis. Still, nuclear energy is produced with a 91 percent rate of efficiency, and without emitting any greenhouse gasses. Are the benefits worth the risks? Jump into your HAZMAT suit and explore for yourself.