Scientists develop way to predict properties of light nuclei

May 21, 2008

Scientists have spent 70 years trying to predict the properties of nuclei, but have had to settle for approximate models because computational techniques were not equal to the task.

In the 1990s, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and elsewhere succeeded in breaking through the computational barrier to provide accurate predictions of light nuclei based on how individual neutrons and protons interact with each other. Now they are learning to compute what happens when nuclei collide.

"We have new tools that should allow us to compute nuclear reaction rates that determine how the stars work and how the nuclei around us are made in the universe," physicist Ken Nollett said.

Predicting nuclear properties requires elaborate calculations in light elements such as helium, but it becomes increasingly complicated in heavier elements. Using advanced mathematical models and sophisticated computers, Argonne scientists have been able to predict the properties of elements up to carbon 12.

Extending these calculations to include colliding nuclei will help to understand the origins of the elements and the insides of stars, where such collisions occur. Studies of stars and element production rely on collision properties provided by complicated experiments. Nollett’s calculations will supplement these experiments, maybe even making some of them unnecessary.

"Astrophysics depends on these difficult experiments," Nollett said. "Our calculations should provide another way to get that information."

Source: Argonne National Laboratory

Explore further: Uncovering the forbidden side of molecules

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tests confirm nickel-78 is a 'doubly magic' isotope

Sep 05, 2014

The stability of atoms can vary considerably from one element to the next, and also between isotopes of the same element (whose nuclei contain the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons). ...

The first building blocks of the universe

May 14, 2014

The first galaxies evolved only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. But why do they have such a great variety of shapes and structures? How did the universe evolve as a whole? Two German-Chinese ...

Recommended for you

Uncovering the forbidden side of molecules

Sep 21, 2014

Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland have succeeded in observing the "forbidden" infrared spectrum of a charged molecule for the first time. These extremely weak spectra offer perspectives ...

How Paramecium protozoa claw their way to the top

Sep 19, 2014

The ability to swim upwards – towards the sun and food supplies – is vital for many aquatic microorganisms. Exactly how they are able to differentiate between above and below in often murky waters is ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3 / 5 (2) May 27, 2008
I urge Ken Nollett to study the "Cradle of the Nuclides" that shows the properties of the 3,000 different types of nuclei that comprise all of the visible matter in the universe:" title="http://" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.omatum...Data.htm

We used the "Cradle of the Nuclides" eight (8) years ago to show that repulsive interactions between neutrons power the Sun and the cosmos.


O. Manuel, Michael Mozina, Hilton Ratcliffe, " On the cosmic nuclear cycle and the similarity of nuclei and stars", J. Fusion Energy 25 , 107-114 (2006).

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel