The chapter gives an overview of nuclear physics from the discovery of the neutron to ongoing research topics. General properties of atomic nuclei are considered: the valley of stability, the nuclear potential, the pairing of nucleons and the strong force. The semi-empirical liquid drop model is presented as a description of relatively large atomic nuclei. The nuclear shell model is described, along with its relationship to magic numbers and beta decay, and is then refined to produce the Nilsson model. Gamow tunnelling is used to explain alpha decay and the Geiger–Nuttall law. It is then applied to nuclear fission and used to calculate rates for thermonuclear fusion in stars. ITER and controlled nuclear fusion are also discussed. Production of superheavy nuclei is detailed and the existence of exotic nuclei, such as halo nuclei, is considered. The Yukawa theory of the strong force is discussed, including its relationship to QCD.
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