Alpha particles have played a key role in the development of our universe and the formation of matter in stars. In stars, elements are formed via the fusion of protons. For example, the synthesis of an alpha-particle (Helium-4) takes 3 steps. To produce heavier elements necessary for all life on earth, like carbon and oxygen, alpha-particles themselves fuse together. Three alphas fuse together to form Carbon-12 and this process takes place in red giant stars. The formation of Carbon-12 in this way is only possible because of the existence of a triple alpha-particle structure in this nucleus; the Hoyle state. In fact, in 1953 Fred Hoyle predicted the energy of this excited level in Carbon-12 simply because without it we would not exist. In this talk I will discuss the formation of the elements and how recent advances are expanding our knowledge of Carbon-12, even more than half a century since the discovery of the Hoyle state.
Tea and coffee will be provided from 7 pm in the Tea Room of the Poynting building
Lecture starts at 7:30pm