Nuclear physics is the study of the composition, behavior and interaction of atomic nuclei and their constituent parts.

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Why do electrons occupy the space around nuclei, and not collide with them?

We all learn in grade school that electrons are negatively-charged particles that inhabit the space around the nucleus of an atom, that protons are positively-charged and are embedded within the ...
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401 views

What are the average matter, antimatter, and binding energy composition of protons and neutrons?

For a free baryon at rest at room temperature, how much of its ~1Gev (rest) mass can (on average) be considered as matter, as antimatter, and as binding energy? For a baryon in a nucleus, I assume ...
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Protons' repulsion within a nucleus

Do the protons inside the nucleus repel each other by the electrostatic force? If they do, why doesn't the repulsion drive the protons apart so that the nuclei get disintegrated?
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How do we know that some radioactive materials have a half life of millions or even billions of years?

If a radioactive material takes a very long time to decay, how is its half life measured or calculated? Do we have to actually observe the radioactive material for a very long time to extrapolate its ...
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References on the non-compositeness of the known elementary particles

What paper(s) or theory(s) describe or prove that the elementary particles that we have determined today cannot be made up of smaller more fundamental particles?
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Conversion of mass to energy in chemical/nuclear reactions

Is mass converted into energy in exothermic chemical / nuclear reactions? My (A Level) knowledge of chemistry suggests that this isn't the case. In a simple burning reaction, e.g. $C+O_2\to ...
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Age of the Earth and the star that preceded the Sun

One of the great unheralded advances made in the history of science was the ability to determine the age of Earth based on the decay of isotopic uranium. Based on the apparent abundance of uranium in ...
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224 views

What is the percentage of useful energy do we get from matter-antimatter annihilation?

This is a theoretical question since we haven't made enough antimatter to try it in reality of course. But I am asking about the physics part in this. Also, by "useful energy" I mean the energy we ...
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What practical issues remain for the adoption of Thorium reactors?

From what I've read on thorium reactors, there's enormous benefit to them. Their fuel is abundant enough to power human civilization for centuries, their fission products are relatively short-lived, ...
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How to explain $E=mc^2$ mass defect in fission/fusion

What is the nature of nuclear energy? This is closely related to the correct explanation of mass defect. I did some research of that topic and cannot come to a single comprehensive and consistent ...
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How do we know that C14 decay is exponential and not linear?

In my previous question I asked Please explain C14 half-life The OP mentioned that I was thinking of linear decay and C14 was measured in exponential decay. As I understand it, C14 is always in a ...
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What is an intuitive picture of the motion of nucleons?

I understand the "motion" of electrons within an ordinary atom (say argon at room temperature and pressure). They are moving in "orbits" defined by quantum mechanical wavefunctions where the "orbits" ...
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What is the the Ehrenfest-Oppenheimer rule on the statistics of composite systems?

Ehrenfest 1931 gives an argument to the effect that the application of the spin-statistics theorem to composite systems is valid, but only as an approximation and under certain conditions. ...
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What happens if we put together a proton and an antineutron?

A hydrogen nucleus consists of a single proton. A 2-hydrogen (deuterium) nucleus consists of a proton and a neutron. A tritium nucleus consists of a proton and two neutrons. This makes me wonder how ...
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Why is the nucleus of an Iron atom so stable?

Lighter nuclei liberate energy when undergoing fusion, heavier nuclei when undergoing fission. What is it about the nucleus of an Iron atom that makes it so stable? Alternatively: Iron has the ...
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6answers
883 views

Is there any thing other than time that “triggers” a radioactive atom to decay?

Say you have a vial of tritium and monitor their atomic decay with a geiger counter. How does an atom "know" when it's time to decay? It seems odd that all the tritium atoms are identical except with ...
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2answers
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Why is technetium unstable?

Is there a simple account of why technetium is unstable? From the Isotopes section of Wikipedia's article on Technetium: Technetium, with atomic number (denoted Z) 43, is the lowest-numbered ...
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How often does nuclear fusion occur within the human body?

I'm just curious. I figure atoms fuse occasionally just by chance, like quantum tunneling or rogue waves. Is this true? If so, any idea how often?
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Why are alpha particles such a prominent form of radiation and not other types of nucleon arrangement?

It is said in many textbooks that alpha decay involves emitting alpha particles, which are very stable. Indeed, the binding energy (~28.3 MeV) is higher than for $Z$-neighboring stable isotopes. But ...
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Are the protons and neutrons in the nucleus arranged in any particular way?

I was wondering this: suppose you have two oxygen atoms. They will both have 8 protons and 8 neutrons in the nucleus (at least if they are the most common isotope). Now, will all those particles be ...
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Do neutron stars reflect light?

The setup is very simple: you have a regular ($1.35$ to $2$ solar masses) evolved neutron star, and you shine plane electromagnetic waves on it with given $\lambda$. Very roughly, what shall be the ...
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1answer
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Why doesn't orbital electron fall into the nucleus of Rb85, but falls into the nucleus of Rb83?

Rb83 is unstable and decays to Kr-83. Mode of the decay is electron capture. Rb85 is stable. The nuclei Rb83 and Rb85 have the same charge. Rb85 is heavier than Rb85, but gravitation is too weak to ...
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Strongest force in nature

Possible Duplicate: What does it mean to say “Gravity is the weakest of the forces”? It is said nuclear force is the strongest force in nature.. But it is not true near a black ...
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1answer
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Fusion vs. Fission

I understand why fission generates large amounts of energy when the nucleus is split, but then why does fusion generate such large amounts of energy. If fission releases energy when some mass is lost ...
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504 views

With what probability does nuclear fusion occur at energies far below the Coulomb barrier?

Even at the core of the sun, the temperature of $\sim 10^7$ K only results in $kT\sim1$ keV, which is about a thousand times less than the electrical potential energy of $\sim1$ MeV needed in order to ...
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Why are pear-shaped nuclei possible?

In a recent question, Ben Crowell raised an observation which really puzzled me. I obtained a partial answer by looking in the literature, but I would like to know if it's on the right track, and a ...
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1answer
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Island of Stability

When I was much younger, I remember being fascinated by the thought of an Island of Stability at very high atomic numbers. However, I have not heard much on this and I was wondering Did this idea ...
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1answer
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What is so special about iron?

I remember reading something about how iron was a highly stable element. Ever since then, I have looked at iron fry pans with new-found respect. However, in a recent discussion I was unable to ...
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2answers
218 views

nuclear fission and half life

Why is the alpha, beta or gamma decay of an unstable nucleus unaffected by the chemical situation of an atom, such as the nature of the molecule or solid in which it is bound? The chemical situation ...
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1answer
472 views

Why are synthetic elements unstable?

So far 20 synthetic elements have been synthesized. All are unstable, decaying with half-lives between years and milliseconds. Why is that?
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How does Positronium exist?

I've just recently heard of Positronium, an "element" with interesting properties formed by an electron and positron, and I was shocked to hear that physicists were actually working with this element, ...
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How can a proton be converted to a neutron via positron emission and yet gain mass?

The mass of a neutron is greater than mass of a proton so how is it possible in positron emission for a proton to form a neutron and a positron?
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Having the same number of neutrons

Sorry if this is a silly question. If I understand correctly, for two atoms "having the same number of protons" is equivalent to "being of the same element", while "having the same number of protons ...
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Can we excite a nucleus by means of very intense low energy gamma-photon irradiation?

The phenomenon of multi-photon ionization of atoms has been studied, both theoretically and experimentally, for several decades. Intense laser beam devices are the apparatuses used for the ...
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Tunneling of alpha particles

Consider this explanation of the alpha decay: It says The Coulomb barrier faced by an alpha particle with this energy is about 26 MeV, so by classical physics it cannot escape at all. ...
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Do some half-lives change over time?

I was recently doing some physics tuition on radioactivity and the student claimed her chemistry teacher had said that radioactive substances can be grouped into two divisions: those whose half-life ...
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Origin of elements heavier than Iron (Fe)

In all the discussions about how the heavy elements in the universe are forged in the guts of stars and especially during a stars death, I usually hear that once the star begins fusing lighter atoms ...
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1answer
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Is it possible that nuclear fission contributes to climate change?

This is probably a really stupid question, please forgive me. Is it possible that the use of nuclear fission on earth contributes to the increased energy in the Earth's system as according with the ...
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Is there an equation for the residual strong nuclear force?

First of all, note the qualifier "residual". The present question is not the same as that asked, and answered, in the StackExchange question "Is there an equation for the strong nuclear force?" which ...
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4answers
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Where do electrons get their ever-lasting circulating energy?

We all know (or maybe know) that to move, we need to spend energy. If you want to drive a car, you gotta spend gasoline. We also know that energy can't be created (first law of thermodynamics, and ...
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Hamiltonian Nuclear collective model

Let $\mathscr{I}_3$ and $\mathscr{I}$ are the moments of inertia for rotations about symmetry axis 3 and about an axis perpendicular to it , and I is the angular momentum operator with components ...
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1answer
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What is the lowest possible theoretical temperature that nuclear fusion can occur at?

I am not talking about the pseudo-science of so called cold fusion I am interested in what temperature you can get away with to produce fusion reaction. I was thinking in terms of micro-fusion or at ...
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Please explain C14 half-life [duplicate]

I understand that C14 decays at a given rate. I also interpret this to mean that 100% of the atoms of C14 in an object will all decay at the same right, individually. So if I have 4 C14 atoms, will ...
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On the theoretical aspects of the development of the first nuclear bombs

I've just read that 68 years ago Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, which made me wonder about some rather historical facts about the development of the first nuclear bombs; they seem to be several ...
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7answers
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Is there any reproducible tested evidence for Ni-H cold fusion?

The main replications of cold fusion, the ones that are beyond reproach, used Pd/d as the system. But commercial developers have often claim to use Ni-H to achieve similar effects. The claims include ...
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1answer
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Radioactive nuclear fuel?

I suppose this is a not-too-bright question but, in a nutshell: why are nuclear fuels radioactive? With this I mean, which is the connection between being a fissile (or fertile, for that matter) ...
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Why some nuclei with “magic” numbers of neutrons have a half-life less than their neighbor isotopes?

It's easy to find the "magic" numbers of neutrons on the diagrams of alpha-decay energy: 82, 126, 152, 162. Such "magic" nuclei should be more stable than their neighbors. But why some nuclei ...
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1answer
837 views

Turned to steel in the great magnetic field

This is obviously a "fun" question, but I'm sure it still has valid physics in it, so bear with me. How great of a magnetic field would you need to transmute other elements into iron/nickel, if ...
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Long time deviations from exponential decay in radioactivity

Are there any examples of common substances whose decay is not exponential? We're used to thinking about radioactivity in terms of half-lives. This is a concept that makes sense only for a decay that ...
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Why does it take so long to make a nuclear bomb?

So as I know nuclear bombs are derived from fission reactions: By providing the nucleus with enough power to trigger a chain reaction. If uranium was present why does it take so much to make a nuclear ...