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On the night of the incident, at 1.23am local time, Reactor Four of the Soviet power plant suffered two deadly explosions. But should we stop trying to do so? The most important segment of the reactor is the nucleus , a huge piece of graphite, interspersed between two "biological shields" like meat in a hamburger.

In the early hours of April 26, 1986, the reactor was undergoing a safety test which aimed to fix this issue.Valery Legasov, the chief of the commission tasked with investigating the disaster, takes part in the trial of three power plant officials responsible for the explosion and its immediate aftermath. The uranium atoms cast a net in the core and as rogue neutrons ping around inside they pass through the solid graphite that surrounds them.

It may have taken some artistic liberties for the sake of story, but refused to sweep the truth of the catastrophe under the rug. And the positive void coefficient, though it still exists in the design, has been dramatically reduced to prevent the possibility of a repeat low-power meltdown.After Chernobyl, a number of changes were implemented in the RBMK reactors across Russia. No power means water is no longer being pumped to cool down the reactor -- and that can quickly lead to disaster. Control rods move in and out of the reactor, water is constantly pumped through to keep the whole thing cool and the power plant produces energy.At every step, Chernobyl touched on the ineptitude of Russian governance, the uncompromising courage of the liquidators tasked with cleaning up the site, the weight that hung over the shoulders of every scientist investigating the disaster and the stark reality of atomic power.The safety test is the starting point for a chain of errors which ultimately resulted in reactor 4's explosion.So we will continue to harness the power of the atom and we will get better. "In this accident they were operating outside their rules and defeating protection which was designed to keep the reactor safe." The RBMK reactor that exploded at Chernobyl, No. Well, they were right. Things are messy and confusing. the water's ability to control neutrons is reduced, therefore the nuclear reactions increased. It's not a nuclear explosion, but a steam explosion, caused by the huge buildup of pressure within the core. The core temperature also dropped so much it stopped boiling water away and producing steam.What is a positive void coefficient and how did it contribute to the reactor explosion on April 26, 1986?In a perfect world the systems, and men controlling the systems, ensure that the scales never tip too far one way or the other. Harnessing the power of the atom and mitigating the risks of nuclear energy as best we can is one of the ways to a cleaner energy future.The only thing the plant workers could do was hit the emergency stop button. The fuel rods feature slightly more enriched uranium which helps control the nuclear reactions a little better. The graphite "slows" these neutrons down, much like the water does, which makes them more likely to be captured by the uranium atoms net. Thus, more steam.Once the plant workers shut down the reactor at 1:23:04 a.m., water is no longer pumped into the core. So we've dug through the radioactive quagmire to bring you the science behind Chernobyl's RBMK reactor explosion -- and the reasons we're not likely to see it happen again.The steam makes the nuclear fission more efficient, speeding it up. Colliding with this net can knock more neutrons loose. This positive void coefficient is unique to the Russian RBMK reactors.We hear the term "positive void coefficient" bellowed by Jared Harris' Legasov in Chernobyl's final episode and it is key to the explosion -- but it's not exactly explained.Those sites were retrofitted with safety features which aim to prevent a second Chernobyl. It can explode, but not in a nuclear way an atom bomb does. It rendered historical truths, and the countless lies, in a harrowing light.The safety test shuts down the reactor and the remaining water boils away. Thus, the water in the channel boils, turns to steam and is used to create power.But we're talking about nuclear physics here. A steam explosion followed by graphite fire that destroyed an RBMK nuclear power reactor, dispersing most of the radioactive material in the reactor's core across the Ukraine and much of Europe. However, the team in the control room at Chernobyl attempted to do just that and disregarded the safety protocols in place.Moments after the reactor explosion, Chernobyl burns.A schematic of the plant used in HBO's Chernobyl showing the graphite core and the biological shields.The core is where the fission reaction takes place. Today, 10 such reactors still exist in operation across the country -- the only place where they are currently operating.The low-power state in the RBMK reactor is not like putting your computer in sleep mode. The catastrophic cascade at Chernobyl is set in motion.But if the plant itself loses power, then what happens? It cannot be returned to its usual power state quickly. That's one of the RBMK reactor's shortcomings. It melted.
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