Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spring and Neon

ResearchBlogging.org





It is late April, and the dogwoods are already losing their petals. The temperature rises, and mockingbirds sing the tunes they learn from their environment: sparrowsong, cardinal calls and car alarms. Soon, it will be too warm and humid to walk anywhere without breaking a sweat.
In the meantime, the work has finally paid off, and the long-awaited paper is published. After much toil, a direct measurement for the strength of the resonant capture reaction on radioactive fluorine-17 at astrophysical energies. Until now, the reaction rate was no more than a best guess from the currently fashionable theory. Only a few places in the world make measurements like this, and it is a difficult thing to do, even when the capability is there.
The most important point I would like to make is this: experiment is crucial to informing theory, theory is crucial to informing observation, and observation is crucial to informing experiment. It is a delicate but efficient symbiosis, when it works. Too much emphasis on one or the other components leads to error, arrogance, stagnation.
As for me, I'm off to APS in Denver!

Chipps, K., Bardayan, D., Blackmon, J., Chae, K., Greife, U., Hatarik, R., Kozub, R., Matei, C., Moazen, B., Nesaraja, C., Pain, S., Peters, W., Pittman, S., Shriner, J., & Smith, M. (2009). First Direct Measurement of the ^{17}F(p,​γ)^{18}Ne Cross Section Physical Review Letters, 102 (15) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.152502

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