Modern Physics Unit NP Nuclear Physics
Overview: This unit gives an introduction to nuclear physics. It begins with some of the basic facts about atomic nuclei and how they can be understood as consequences of the properties of the nucleon-nucleon interaction. It then discusses some more detailed nuclear models and nuclear decays and reactions.
R. Eisberg and R. Resnick Quantum Mechanics of Atoms, Solids, Nuclei and Particles (2nd Ed.) , Chapt. 15 - Nuclear Models, Sec. 1-9; Chapt. 16 - Nuclear Decay and Nuclear Reactions, Sec. 1-3,5,7.
COMMENT: The physics we study can be divided into two classes:
A majority of physicists work in just one of the above classes, but study what happens when a certain collection of particles behave as determined by (a) under forces determined by (b). It is a long step from understanding the principles of quantum mechanics and Maxwell's equations to understanding all of solid state physics, even though we believe all of know solid state physics should follow from these two fundamental theories.
If the underlying forces are unknown, or cannot be simply expressed, the problem of how a collection of many particles interact with each other becomes even more difficult. Ideally, on should first try to arrange systems where the effect of the forces on the motion is simple. For example, we would not have discovered Maxwell's equations by trying to discover which of all possible force laws explained the properties of large chunks of, say, iron. They were in fact discovered by measuring the forces between two charged spheres as a function of their separation, and similar simple systems.
Unfortunately we cannot hold a neutron and a proton 10^(-13) cm apart and measure the force between them to determine the propertied of the nuclear forcee. There is an unavoidable mix in nuclear physics between the problem of what the forces are and the problem of how nucleons behave under given forces. Perhaps in the future a way to understand the application of QCD to systems like nuclei will be found. In the meantime nuclear physics consists of somewhat vague understandings and approximate models.
Quesions:Eisberg and Resnick, Chapter 15: 3,9,12,14,18 ; Chapter 16: 1,3,6 .