Skip to comments.Mercury serves up a nuclear surprise - The discovery of a new type of fission turns a...
Posted on 12/04/2010 10:40:33 AM PST by neverdem
The discovery of a new type of fission turns a tenet of nuclear theory on its head.
The observation of an unexpected nuclear reaction by an unstable isotope of the element mercury has thrown up a rare puzzle. The enigma is helping theorists to tackle one of the trickiest problems in physics: developing a more complete model of the atomic nucleus.
Nuclear fission, the process in which a nucleus heavier than that of iron breaks into pieces, is generally observed to be symmetric, with the resulting fragments being roughly equal in size. Although instances of asymmetric fission are known, they are usually attributed to the preferential formation of 'magic' nuclei, in which shells in the nuclear structure are filled to capacity.
So when researchers on the ISOLDE experiment at CERN, Europe's particle-physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, set out to study the decay of mercury-180 containing 80 protons and 100 neutrons they expected it to break into two nuclei of zirconium-90, each containing 40 protons and 50 neutrons. They assumed that outcome would be particularly favoured because 40 and 50 are magic numbers for which shells would be exactly filled.
But the mercury dealt a surprise, splitting instead into ruthenium-100 and krypton-80. "A symmetric split should be dominant and we show that it doesn't happen," says ISOLDE member Andrei Andreyev, presently of the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley. The result is in press at Physical Review Letters.
ISOLDE is unique in being able to create pure beams of unstable heavy elements, the reaction products of which can be collected and studied. Andreyev and his colleagues started with a beam of thallium-180. This mostly decayed by capturing an electron, turning one of its 81 protons into a neutron to form mercury-180, which then performed the...
(Excerpt) Read more at nature.com ...
May be they accidentally banked off the rail first.
LOL. One of the oldest on FR. It actually started on stone tablets in JimRob's cave.
Uh, I don't think that's really how it works. From what I recall, you don't "add" an electron to a proton to get neutron. Am I mis-remembering things, or is the reporter as stupid as he sounds?
The real question here is can we use it to kill muzzies?
My way of bumping for later
The future of nuclear is cold fusion.
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The sound of one hand clapping.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
Up quarks have charge +2/3,and down quarks have charge -1/3.
So "two ups and a down" yield +2/3 + 2/3 - 1/3 = +1
"two downs and an up " yield -1/3 -1/3 + 2/3 = 0
0: Knock knock.
1: Who's there?
1: Heisenberg who?
0: I'm uncertain.
Tip your waitress. Good night.
They assumed that outcome would be particularly favoured because 40 and 50 are magic numbers for which shells would be exactly filled. ... But the mercury dealt a surprise, splitting instead into ruthenium-100 and krypton-80.
Hey buttheads, never assume.
(Sheesh. And they brainiacs are getting paid big bucks? I want a refund.)
“They should try the experiment without observing it and see what happens.”
Philosophy majors should avoid those sciences requiring labs and maths.
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