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Dr. Robin Smith, Lecturer in Physics at Sheffield Hallam University, UK, delivers an insightful overview of his work in nuclear physics research topics and experiments in nuclear physics.

Dr. Smith earned his Ph.D. in nuclear physics at the University of Birmingham under the guidance of Dr. C. Wheldon and Prof. M. Freer. He is a distinguished lecturer in physics and specializes in multiple fields, including the following: nuclear data, nuclear structure, nuclear astrophysics, radiation detection, atomic nuclei and more.

Dr. Smith talks about nuclear physics and general physics and how he came to his areas of specialty. As he explains, he undertook projects in his senior year at university that involved smashing nuclei, which really got his interest moving in the direction of nuclear physics. Dr. Smith explains why he studies the atomic nucleus in detail, discussing the building blocks—atoms, and historical perspectives on the atom. He explains the atom’s structure and the density of the atomic nucleus, citing examples for comparison. Dr. Smith goes on to explain that in nature we have four fundamental forces that govern all matter within the universe—gravity, the electromagnetic force, the weak force, and the strong force. Dr. Smith details how these forces work, discussing gravity and its effects and the binding structures. 

The nuclear physics expert discusses quantum mechanics, and how it is derived from the Schrödinger equation, which is a linear partial differential equation that precisely describes the general wave function, or state function, etc., of a quantum-mechanical system. Continuing, Dr. Smith discusses stars in our galaxy, the heavy elements, and the forces that exist, detailing how his research relates. He discusses carbon and excited states within nuclei and some of the theories that exist regarding molecules and molecular physics in general. 

As Dr. Smith extends his discussion, he explains some of the methods they use to gather their scientific data. He explains how they study energies and what the data reveals in regard to decay processes. Regarding his research in colliding, Dr. Smith states that decay behavior, specifically regarding carbon-12, the most common of all-natural carbon isotopes, does appear to change dependent upon what projectile is being fired at the carbon-12. In essence, the environment does appear to affect the outcome of the reaction.

Wrapping up, Dr. Smith discusses the work and theories of Sir Fred Hoyle, the English astronomer who famously formulated the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis.

In this podcast:

  • What exactly is quantum mechanics?
  • An overview of the atomic nucleus
  • What are the forces that exist in our galaxy?

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