Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 4-2012

Abstract

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The very history of matter (and hence Man) is exquisitely coupled to the nuclear fusion processes that power the Sun and other stars. The fusion of hydrogen into helium and other thermonuclear fusion processes (collectively called nucleosynthesis processes) provides us with not only the energy to carry on our lives, but the very materials that constitute our very bodies and our world. Nuclear fusion, a ‘green’ energy-liberating process that has been at the forefront of cutting-edge scientific research for decades, is carried out continuously in the sun at scales so large that they dwarf the totality of all human experimentation into harvesting nuclear energy. This review paper summarizes the basic physics and nuclear science that allows this process to happen, and attempts to describe in some depth recent efforts to accurately simulate the kinetics of these pathways, and describe what can happen when different simultaneously-occurring fusion reactions compete to dominate isotope production in stars of varying mass.

Comments

Blurry equations and other errors will be corrected before final submission (~July 2012)

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