Problems and Solutions in Nuclear and Particle Physics
Book Preface
“The reader who has read the book but cannot do the exercises has learned nothing.” I used this quote by J. J. Sakurai [1] at each and every first lesson of my courses on nuclear and particle physics. In my message to the students, the “book” in the quote represented the course they were attending. In this way, I wanted to place special emphasis on the importance of exercises in such introductory courses. There are several good textbooks that I used as the basis of my courses and that I have proposed to my students, yet the exercises proposed therein are only partly solved or simply sketched. For this reason, I used to tell my students that even if they missed some lessons, they should follow closely the lessons dedicated to working out problems.
This book contains a sample of about 140 solved problems on nuclear and particle physics. These problems have been used in partial and final examinations of courses I have given for about twenty years, mostly to undergraduates in the University of L’Aquila. In these lecture notes, the solutions are explained in detail and different approaches are proposed and sometimes compared. Another feature of the exercises originates from the decision to consider only realistic cases, to have solutions as close as possible to what is available from actual measurements. Whenever possible, some problems are based on well-known experiments to show that even with their basic knowledge students can understand the main outcomes of these researches.
The exercises are grouped by different subjects. This grouping criterion is not (and cannot be) rigorous because a generic exercise needs inputs from different topics. Therefore, the exercises included in each chapter refer to it only because this is the prevalent subject. The levels of the exercises and the required skills to solve them can be very different. Most of the exercises do not require too much mathematics. Yet, some of the exercises are more difficult and complex and serve as prototypes for a class of problems, so that others of the same class can be solved promptly.
Apart from the use of this book as a supplement to textbooks on nuclear and particle physics for undergraduate classes, it can provide a valid aid to graduate students preparing for selection examinations.
L’Aquila, Italy Sergio Petrera
April 2019
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