When Europe meets physicsPosted: November 13, 2010
I will tell you in this post a bit of physics things… Don’t worry, no prior knowledge of the discipline is needed.
In the world of Nuclear Physics, there are tens of thousands of nuclei to study, only a few hundreds of them being stables. And somewhere in the middle lays a nucleus with 63 protons… Its name ? Europium, symbol “Eu”
Yes, dear european readers, there is an atom named after Europe. And you probably have some of it just in front of your eyes this it is commonly used to make screens (precisely the red color).
Furthermore, one of the isotopes of this nucleus is dear to nuclear physicists: the Europium 152, (63 protons and 89 neutrons). It is a radio-isotope (that means not stable) and slowly decays into another nucleus. In this process, the Europium produce some gamma rays (high energy light) of specific energies and with a specific intensity. The decay time scale is of the order of 13 years.
That makes the 152Eu a very good gamma calibration source, used as a reference in many if not all the gamma ray detection systems for nuclear structure.
Not only Europe has its atom, but it is used on a daily basis an absolute reference, isn’t that cool ?