Cyclotron; Nuclear Physics - Experimental
640 S. Shaw Lane, Room 1035
Professional Activities & Interests / Biographical Information
For the past 20 years I have been living with neutrons. Although neutrons are neither good nor bad (they are neutral), it has been difficult to live with them because they are so standoffish, so hard to interact with. Having no electric charge, they don't so much as wink at an electron. They only have eyes for the tiny nuclei of atoms. Even stranger, on the loose they live for only about 15 minutes. Most of them avoid that danger by staying safe within atomic nuclei. Here at the NSCL we are often interested in those unfortunate neutrons that live within radioactive isotopes for less than a second. We produce these isotopes with our cyclotrons and immediately study them. Some of my favorites are helium-6, helium-8 and lithium-11. The nuclei of these isotopes are almost pure neutron matter. When we study such nuclei, some of their neutrons are bound to fly off, carrying information about the subatomic world they left behind. That's the world of interest to a nuclear physicist. Elusive as they are, we catch them — and their message — in one of our massive Neutron Walls. Having become an emeritus professor in September 2001, I presently focus my activity on writing about the experiments a group of us have done with some of these neutron-rich radioactive nuclei.