Robert Wiringa, Argonne National Laboratory
Nuclear Forces & The Destiny of the Universe
Physics Division Colloquium - 8 Mar. 2002

The nature of our universe depends greatly on several "accidents" of nuclear structure, particularly the lack of stable A=5 and 8 nuclei, and the existence of the excited 0+ resonance in 12C reached by the triple-alpha burning process. Using quantum Monte Carlo methods, we now have the ability to calculate the properties of many of these nuclei starting from realistic two- and three-body forces that fit nucleon-nucleon scattering data and few-nucleon bound states. We can thus study how nuclear spectra evolve as a consequence of different features of these rather complicated forces. Pion-exchange forces turn out to be crucial to the structure of these nuclei, which may point the way to a more direct connection between nuclear spectra and key features of QCD.

ANL Physics Division Colloquium Schedule