Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Isotope science to have wide-ranging impact

20.02.2007
Nuclear science – and a host of other endeavors that involve the production, study and use of rare isotopes – is undergoing a quiet but dramatic revolution.

That's the conclusion of Brad Sherrill, professor of physics at Michigan State University, who says that the relatively new ability to create novel forms of atomic nuclei may be one of the great, underappreciated transformations in the physical sciences today. Sherrill is based at MSU's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL).

In today's symposium titled, "Femtoscience: From Nuclei to Nuclear Medicine," organized by Sherrill at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in San Francisco, researchers from NSCL and other laboratories will describe the potential effects in several familiar fields: astrophysics, medicine and national security.

Ernest Rutherford discovered the nuclear nature of matter in the early 1900s. For most of history that followed, scientists curious about the dense knots of protons and neutrons that comprise atomic nuclei have for the most part been limited to studying the roughly 300 stable isotopes that exist in nature.

That's not the case anymore.

Thanks to existing and planned accelerator technology in physics laboratories around the world, scientists may soon have several thousand isotopes at their disposal.

"We're starting to realize that the future of many different disciplines is going to be impacted by this," said Sherrill.

David Dean, a scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, will address the links to the decidedly unfamiliar and fuzzy world of mesoscopic science – the study of self-organization and complexity arising from elementary interactions among many dozens or hundreds of particles. A better grasp of mesoscopic science may help advance the field of quantum computing, among others.

The symposium's title is an allusion to the fact that nuclear scientists currently can tinker with nature on the femtometer scale, roughly one million times smaller than what is used to make measurements in the field of nanotechnology.

The comparison to nanotechnology, or at least to the broader realm of nanoscience, is apt in another sense, Sherrill said. Today, examples abound of basic and applied research in nanoscience. To

the casual observer the field may seem to have arrived all of a sudden – a perception that's likely the result of excessive hype by companies hoping to cash in on the latest buzzword – though in fact it is the result of decades of slow, steady advances in physics and engineering.

"In nanoscience, there wasn't one day where scientists said 'okay, now we can do nanoscience,'" said Sherrill.

Similarly, during the last few decades, scientists at facilities such as NSCL and others in Germany and Japan have been using accelerators to create new forms of nuclei with ratios of protons of neutrons that don't exist on Earth. Plans for new, more powerful accelerators will only add to the stable of isotopes at researchers' disposal. Recently, the National Academies released a draft report in December that lent strong support to the idea a new U.S. radioactive beam facility.

For now, the proliferation of such exotic nuclei is mostly helping to rewrite the physics textbooks that Sherrill read as a graduate student. But soon, he said, the potential impact of this work may be far more dramatic.

"Sometime revolutions develop slowly," he said. "You get in the middle of them before you realize it's really happened."

Brad Sherrill | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nscl.msu.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form
18.08.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht Astrophysicists explain the mysterious behavior of cosmic rays
18.08.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>