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: First in-situ images of void collapse in explosives

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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

First in-situ images of void collapse in explosives

Jul 25, 2014

While creating the first-ever images of explosives using an x-ray free electron laser in California, Los Alamos researchers and collaborators demonstrated a crucial diagnostic for studying how voids affect ...

New approach to form non-equilibrium structures

Jul 24, 2014

Although most natural and synthetic processes prefer to settle into equilibrium—a state of unchanging balance without potential or energy—it is within the realm of non-equilibrium conditions where new possibilities lie. ...

Nike krypton laser achieves spot in Guinness World Records

Jul 24, 2014

A set of experiments conducted on the Nike krypton fluoride (KrF) laser at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) nearly five years ago has, at long last, earned the coveted Guinness World Records title for achieving "Highest ...

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