Synopsis: Order out of chaos

Experiments point to order in parts of the nuclear spectrum believed to be chaotic in nature.
Synopsis figure
Illustration:Alan Stonebraker

The quest for order in nuclear spectra is an exciting problem in nuclear and particle physics. An extreme example of spectroscopic complexity is provided by the highly excited states of intermediate- to heavy-mass nuclides. For several decades, the dominant belief has been that this part of the nuclear spectrum is completely random in nature, leading to the development of several stochastic approaches to its study.

In a paper in Physical Review Letters, P. E. Koehler, J. A. Harvey, and K. H. Guber (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US) in collaboration with F. Bečvář and M. Krtička (Charles University, Czech Republic), show that new data from the Oak Ridge Electron Linear Accelerator (ORELA) strongly disagree with this dominant lore. The data, which resulted from precision measurements of widths of neutron resonances, suggest collective, as opposed to chaotic, behavior of the constituent nucleons. This result challenges several nuclear models currently employed throughout nuclear physics, and even parts of astrophysics, while providing valuable clues into the mechanisms that produce the baffling complexity of nuclear energy levels. – Abhishek Agarwal


More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Nuclear Physics

Previous Synopsis

Atomic and Molecular Physics

One relation to rule them all

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Semiconductor Physics

A flattened cone

Read More »

Related Articles

Viewpoint: Cavity with Iron Nuclei Slows Down X Rays

Viewpoint: Cavity with Iron Nuclei Slows Down X Rays

Slow light effects have been measured for x rays using a cavity filled with iron nuclei, where the speed of light was reduced by a factor of 10,000. Read More »

Viewpoint: Cyclotron Radiation from One Electron
Particles and Fields

Viewpoint: Cyclotron Radiation from One Electron

An electron’s energy can be determined with high accuracy by detecting the radiation it emits when moving in a magnetic field. Read More »

Synopsis: Fixing a Million-Year Clock

Synopsis: Fixing a Million-Year Clock

A better measure of an iron isotope’s half-life may lead to new ways of dating astrophysical events that unfold over millions of years. Read More »

More Articles