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Beaming Into the Dark Corners of the Nuclear Kitchen

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Science  01 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5437, pp. 28-31
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5437.28

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The exotic nuclear reactions that take place in stars and supernovae are the ultimate source of many of the elements we know, and the behavior of the unstable nuclei involved is rich in clues about the structure of the atomic nucleus. By colliding stable isotopes, physicists have been able to produce some exotic nuclei, but only in small numbers, providing tantalizing glimpses of the weird and wonderful nuclear structures and reactions that have been outside their reach. Now a new generation of accelerators capable of generating beams of radioactive nuclei aims to simulate the element-building processes in stars and shed light on nuclear structure.