1 result for month: 09/2010


The Pea and the Beach-Ball

Nuclear physicists describe the propensity of a nuclide to absorb a neutron in terms of a very small area, called a "barn". A barn is a trillionth of a trillionth of a square centimeter (10-24 cm2). Now imagine if we could inflate the size of a couple of nuclides, brothers actually, by a factor of two-and-a-half trillion. These two nuclides, despite being from exactly the same element, would look very very different in their "size" to a thermal neutron. Image Removed One would be really big, about the size of a 36" beachball. We would accurately conclude that a neutron would have a very good chance of being absorbed by this big guy. I...