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The Synthesis of the Elements, in Particular Carbon

Life on Earth is based on carbon that was generated in stars. A special role in the synthesis of carbon is played by a particular excited state of carbon, the socalled Hoyle state. With the help of supercomputing, this state and its structure could be calculated ab initio, that means using only the knowledge about the forces between 2 and 3 nucleons, for the first time. This was one of the two grand challenges in nuclear structure theory. These calculations pave the way for a systematic understanding of the synthesis of all elements relevant for life. Further, they allow for tests of the anthropic principle, that means the question how the existence of life depends on the fundamental physical parameters.

Visualization of the triple-alpha process that generates carbon in hot starsVisualization of the triple-alpha process that generates carbon in hot stars through the subsequent fusion of three 4He particles.
Copyright: Copyright: Uladzimir Bakunovich,

Full article in inSiDE, Vol. 10 No. 1

Prof. Dr. Ulf-G. Meißner
Universität Bonn (HISKP) und FZ Jülich (IAS & IKP)
D-53115 Bonn – e-mail: