While neutron halos were discovered 30 years ago, this is the first book written on the subject of this exotic form of nuclei that typically contain many more neutrons than stable isotopes of those elements. It provides an introductory description of the halo and outlines the discovery and evidence for its existence. It also discusses different theoretical models of the halo's structure as well as models and techniques in reaction theory that have allowed us to study the halo. This is written at a level accessible to graduate students starting a PhD in nuclear physics.

Halo nuclei are an exotic form of atomic nuclei that contain typically many more neutrons than stable isotopes of those elements. To give you a famous example, an atom of the element lithium has three electrons orbiting a nucleus with three protons and, usually, either 3 or 4 neutrons. The difference in the number of neutrons gives us two different isotopes of lithium, Li6 and Li7. But if you keep adding neutrons to the nucleus you will eventually reach Li11, with still 3 protons (that means it's lithium) but with 8 neutrons. This nucleus is so neutron-rich that the last two are very weakly bound to the rest of the nucleus (a Li9 core). What happens is a quantum mechanical effect: the two outer neutrons float around beyond the rest of the nuclear core at a distance that is beyond the range of the force that is holding them to the core. This is utterly counterintuitive. It means the nucleus looks like a core plus extended diffuse cloud of neutron probability: the halo.

The author of the book, Jim Al-Khalili, is a theoretician who published some of the key papers on the structure of the halo in the mid and late 90s and was the first to determine its true size. This monograph is based on review articles he has written on the mathematical models used to determine the halo structure and the reactions used to model that structure.

While neutron halos were discovered 30 years ago, this is the first book written on the subject of this exotic form of nuclei that typically contain many more neutrons than stable isotopes of those elements. It provides an introductory description of the halo and outlines the discovery and evidence for its existence. It also discusses different theoretical models of the halo's structure as well as models and techniques in reaction theory that have allowed us to study the halo. This is written at a level accessible to graduate students starting a PhD in nuclear physics.

Halo nuclei are an exotic form of atomic nuclei that contain typically many more neutrons than stable isotopes of those elements. To give you a famous example, an atom of the element lithium has three electrons orbiting a nucleus with three protons and, usually, either 3 or 4 neutrons. The difference in the number of neutrons gives us two different isotopes of lithium, Li6 and Li7. But if you keep adding neutrons to the nucleus you will eventually reach Li11, with still 3 protons (that means it's lithium) but with 8 neutrons. This nucleus is so neutron-rich that the last two are very weakly bound to the rest of the nucleus (a Li9 core). What happens is a quantum mechanical effect: the two outer neutrons float around beyond the rest of the nuclear core at a distance that is beyond the range of the force that is holding them to the core. This is utterly counterintuitive. It means the nucleus looks like a core plus extended diffuse cloud of neutron probability: the halo.

The author of the book, Jim Al-Khalili, is a theoretician who published some of the key papers on the structure of the halo in the mid and late 90s and was the first to determine its true size. This monograph is based on review articles he has written on the mathematical models used to determine the halo structure and the reactions used to model that structure.

「史蒂芬霍金科學傳播獎」首屆得獎者
暢銷書《悖論》、《解開生命之謎》作者吉姆.艾爾卡利里
邀請各領域頂尖科學家,針對科技未來撰寫十八篇深度導文
讓我們思考人類會將地球的未來帶向何方?

你覺得未來會是什麼模樣?

街上人們踩著懸浮滑板,出門再也不用自己開車;科學家發明能讓人感到幸福的藥丸,基因改造讓人們永遠不再生病;AI就是你的管家,生活大小事都靠機器人打理;蜘蛛絲能建造出比鋼筋更堅固的橋,有記憶的金屬能夠自動修復;週末搭太空船去月球旅行;時光機讓你回到過去挽回曾經犯下的錯……

也有可能,人們努力發展科學與經濟,想讓大家未來都過上更好的生活,卻忘了保護我們的現在,導致大自然的各種反撲……

在未來,上述的一切都有可能發生。科學家每天都有新的發現,但未來之所以充滿各種可能,不是因為科技會有出人意表的發展,而是取決於我們如何運用科技。

本書集結了各方領域的頂尖專家,帶著我們了解人口、氣候、能源、醫學、人工智慧、生物科技和宇宙探索的研究現況與未來展望。然而真正洞察未來走勢的科學作品,往往能善用對於未來的想像來反映世人當下的焦慮。

當基因檢測日漸普遍,你真的想知道自己有無罹患不治之症的風險嗎?
當自動車面臨兩難抉擇,它該撞上推著嬰兒車的孕婦,還是犧牲自己的乘客?
當物聯網全面上線,駭客有辦法從你的水壺進而控制你的整個房子嗎?
我們是第一個能自主自決的物種,為世上所有生物保全一個適宜居住的地球?
又或者人類只是自然循環的一部分,當繁殖過頭便隨著大自然一起「重置」?

與其將本書看作是對未來的預測,不如說是「人類渴望的未來」。科學家們所提出的科技道德問題,讓身為科技使用者的我們有機會深度思考,在下一個五十年,我們的意圖與行動可以如何讓人類過得更幸福。 

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