Monday, February 8, 2010

Quantum dynamics of nuclei

John Negele wrote a really nice Physics Today article in 1985 on the role of mean-field theory in nuclear physics.
Ideas discussed include:
-nuclei are small drops of a dense, strongly interacting quantum liquid
-why the success of mean-field theory is astonishing
-but it works because of Landau's Fermi liquid theory
-in nuclei the density varies smoothly (they are not billiard balls)
-instantons (imaginary time trajectories) provide a natural way to describe tunneling effects such as fission and fusion
-the effective nucleon-nucleon interaction is density dependent
-as the density of nuclear matter increases the effective interaction increases and neutrons can escape the nucleus and form a "gas". this is what happens in neutron stars

I have been reading this in preparing for the visit of Cedric Simenel to UQ this week. I am looking forward to hearing his seminar which will feature the picture above and discuss significant advances in dynamical simulations since Negele's article.

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