The mass of a nucleus is given by: $$ Mc^2=n M_n c^2+zM_pc^2-B(z,n) $$ And we were told that nuclei want to maximise the binding energy per nucleon. However, I don't see why they don't want to minimise mass per nucleon, that seems more logical to me.

  • $\begingroup$ $E = mc^2$, maximize bounding energy $\equiv$ minimize mass ? $\endgroup$ – patta Apr 17 at 8:47
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    $\begingroup$ They are almost the same, but the small difference in the mass of the proton and neutron do change things slightly $\endgroup$ – Toby Peterken Apr 17 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ ok, now I understand the problem; why all neutrons do not decay to proton? $\endgroup$ – patta Apr 17 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ I understand that, you have the asymmetry term. My question is, why is stability at the maxima of $B$ not at a minima of $Mc^2$ (I doubt they always coincide) $\endgroup$ – Toby Peterken Apr 17 at 15:07

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