Certain fundamentals of nuclear physics and beyond may become subject to revision
Why is our Universe as it is? How did our Universe originate and how is it developing? How will the Universe look in the future? Questions like these have always held great interest for the humankind. Some periods of our history have provided better answers than the others, until, it seemed, a series of scientific developments have come up with satisfactory explanation. We know nowadays that our Universe has emerged as a result of Big Bang; we know how the chemical elements came to be and how the Universe is evolving. Yet is seems still that all this knowledge at our disposal is but a general outline of the great Knowledge waiting for the humankind in the future. Many puzzles and mysteries remain that we still barely understand.
These days the scientists all over the world are busy researching cosmological aspects of the Universe. The consequences of the Big Bang are of particular interest, including the formation of light elements, such as hydrogen, deuterium, lithium and beryllium. According to the modern theory, the so-called Big Bang Nucleosynthesis had to last about 200 seconds to cause formation of the amount of light elements that we can observe in the Universe today. For every one million atoms of hydrogen the following would be formed: about 80 thousand atoms of Helium-4, ten atoms of deuterium and tritium as light isotopes of hydrogen, as well as one ten thousandth of a lithium-7 isotope atom. At least, that’s the theory.
In practice, however, our Universe registers about three times less of lithium-7 and about thousand times more of lithium-6 than the respective amounts anticipated by the theory of primary nucleosynthesis. All attempts to adjust the expected amount of certain elements in favour of the others within the modern nucleosynthesis theory have been unsuccessful so far. This situation is known in cosmology as the “lithium problem”. One way to solve it would be to include an additional particle to nucleosynthesis. Hypothetical and mostly virtual until today, this particle is known as dineutron.
The search for dineutron has been ongoing for about 70 years, until the end of June 2016. This is when Prof. I.M. Kadenko, the Head of the Nuclear Physics department of the Faculty of Physics/Director of the International Centre of Nuclear Safety of our University, published his article in the EPL (Europhysics Letters) magazine. This article, naturally if its findings will be independently confirmed by other scientists, will hopefully put an end to the search for dineutron – a bound particle consisting of two neutrons only. Such configuration may signify the presence of neutral atoms without the electrons. If fruitfully confirmed by a number of independent researchers, this fact will prompt for revision of some basic principles of atomic and nuclear physics, of the formation of some light elements in the Universe, as well as increase the chance of formation of the living matter.
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