Hadrons and Nuclear Physics - what makes life possible
Over 99.9 per cent of the mass of matter is concentrated in atomic nuclei. As far as we know today, there are less than 300 atomic nuclei which are stable - that is, which are not subject to decay processes. This makes them crucial elements for the structure of our world. These stable elements are created in reactions between cores of atoms within stars which provide the energy that enables our life in the first place. They cause the development of chemical elements.
The Smallest Building Blocks in the World
By searching for new elements, scientists hope to gain new, deeper insight into the structure of nuclear matter. Motivation is the ancient but still open question: what are the smallest constituents of our world. The heaviest recognized element was produced and proven by researchers at the "Gesellschaft für Schwerionforschung (GSI)" in Darmstadt in 1994. It has the periodic number 111 and was officially named "Roentgenium".by the German Federal Minister of Education and Research Annette Schavan on 17 November 2006.
Atomic nuclei consist of nucleons (in general hadrons), which in turn consist of even smaller particles, the quarks and gluons. The boundaries of the quarks and gluons to hadrons and then to cores are blurred and yet to be fully understood. Hadron and nuclear physics therefore have many questions to answer:
- Why can't isolated quarks be observed?
- What is the nature of the phase transition from a quark-gluon-plasma to hadrons?
- Where does the mass of nucleons come from?
- Why is the charge of a complex proton absolutely equal to the charge of an electron?
- Where does the spin of nucleons come from?
- What nuclear reactions take place during nucleosynthesis in cosmos?
- What characteristics does the matter of cores have under extreme conditions, for example, in neutron stars?
- What are the limits to the existence of atomic nuclei?
- What fundamental symmetries are realized in nature?
- How big is the absolute mass of a neutrino?
Funded large-scale equipment
Heavy Ion Research Centre (GSI), Darmstadt
- COSY: COol SYnchrotron, polarized, cooled proton and deuteron beams
- HERMES: HERa MEasurement of spin dependent structure functions to study the spin structure of nucleons
- ALICE: A Large Ion Collider Experiment to study quark-gluon-plasmas
- COMPASS: COmmon Muon and Proton Apparatus for Structure and Spectroscopy to study the structure of hadrons
- REX-ISOLDE: Radioactive Beam EXperiment to study instable cores of atoms with a short lifespan
- BABAR: test of fundamental symmetries in nature
- Experiments on the structure of hadrons and cores with neutrons
- GridKA: Grid Computing Center Karlsruhe
Research Institutions (with BMBF funding)