Printer Friendly

Hurrying a nuclear identity switch.

Radioactive beryllium-7 atoms locked inside molecular cages decay extraordinarily quickly, Japanese researchers have found. The speedup is the largest such artificial hastening of an atom's decay rate ever observed.

Tsutomu Ohtsuki of Tohoku University in Sendai and his colleagues recorded a nearly 1 percent hike in the decay rate of beryllium-7 atoms that were each trapped inside a spherical shell-like, 60-carbon molecule known as a buckminsterfullerene, or buckyball.

A beryllium-7 nucleus decays into a lithium-7 atom by absorbing an electron, which converts a proton into a neutron. Inside a buckyball, the cage's electron cloud may hem in the beryllium-7's electrons so tightly that the chance of an electron-proton interaction goes up, the scientists propose in the Sept. 10 Physical Review Letters.

Such a large boost is remarkable because conditions that influence matter on the scale of atoms or larger--such as pressure and the chemical environment--typically exert almost no influence at the smaller scale of nuclear matter.--P.W.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Physics
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Oct 9, 2004
Words:158
Previous Article:Turmeric component kills cancer cells.
Next Article:Global warming won't boost carbon storage in tundra.
Topics:


Related Articles
A new entrant in the war.
PHYSICISTS PRODUCE FIRST COMPLETE ATOMS OF ANTIMATTER.
New information re: SSNs on tax planners. (Tax Practitioner Alert).
The gipper and the hedgehog.
IRAQ - Saddam's Nuclear Ambition.
Nuclear fallout.
Precision Measurements with Slow Neutrons: April 5-7, 2004.
Superconducting UCN polarizer for a new EDM spectrometer.
A silicon UCN detector with large area and with analysis of UCN polarization.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters