An Educational Tour of Nuclear Data

What are nuclear data?

The field of nuclear data includes the study of the structure of atomic nuclei and the analysis of interactions between nuclear radiation and matter. It is practical, because the results of much of the research are tables of nuclear data that can be used in a variety of applications, and it is scientific, because the work depends greatly on experimental observations and theoretical analysis.

Where are nuclear data used?

Nuclear data impact our lives in a number of ways, including the design and operation of nuclear power plants, national defense (nuclear weapons and naval vessels), medical isotopes and radiotherapy, space travel, criticality safety, future energy options, industrial applications, scientific research, and the environment.

Who does nuclear data?

The nuclear data community ranges from nuclear physicists and chemists who perform the basic experiments and develop the theoretical models to explain them, through the analysts who evaluate and systematize the data base, to the scientists and engineers who prepare the data libraries and develop the computer programs used for nuclear applications. These people work at a variety of national laboratories, research institutes, universities, and industries. They are coordinated into a number of different networks, including the Cross Section Evaluation Working Group (CSEWG) for cross sections, the USNDN for structure work, and the USNRDN for reaction work. All this work is part of the U.S. Nuclear Data Program sponsored by the Office of Science of the Department of Energy. An important part of the nuclear-data system is an international network of data centers.

Tutorial Articles at Various Levels of Difficulty
5 May 1998

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