Extending the range of the nuclear force

It may be difficult to separate "theory" from "application," but let''s see if this helps facilitate the discussion.
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Ryan Payne
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Extending the range of the nuclear force

Post by Ryan Payne » Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:55 am

First off, let me say that I have no education in physics outside of honors physics in high school. I was planning to take several physics classes in college, but had to drop out due to financial issues (read: my parents kicked me out (understandable,) forcing me to get a full time job to make ends meet.) But, I'm a bit of an engineering "hobbyist." (Or would be, if i had access to machine tools and whatnot.)

Anyway, this is just an idea I had.

As we all know, the main issue with "practical" fusion is a direct result of the coulomb barrier. The coulomb barrier itself rests in the finite range of the residual nuclear force (correct me if I am wrong at any point in this post, please.) And the finite range of the residual nuclear force is due to the transient nature of mesons.

According to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (time energy uncertainty,) mesons borrow energy from the quantum vacuum during their formation. However, the more energy "borrowed" the shorter the time span a meson can exist for. Since they have both mass (limiting their top speed) and a limited lifespan, this results in a maximum distance they can travel.

"The more energy borrowed, the shorter..." does this imply that a thermodynamic gradient is created when a meson forms? For what I understand of thermodynamics, the rate of energy transferred is dependent on the difference between two samples.

If mesons create a thermodynamic gradient during their formation, what if we could reduce the gradient? What if we could provide an alternate source of energy for their formation (or at least, some of the energy required?) If we could, this would imply a lower thermodynamic gradient between the meson and the quantum vacuum, and, as a result, a longer lifespan. That, in turn, means meson exchange could occur over longer distances.

Since electromagnetic repulsion dies off rapidly with distance, the farther we could extend the range of the residual nuclear interaction, the less kinetic energy a proton would need to achieve fusion. See where I'm going?

Like I said, I have ZERO formal physics education beyond high school. Which means this idea is either the stuff of genius, or, far more likely, a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

WHERE am I wrong here?

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Richard Hull
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Re: Extending the range of the nuclear force

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Apr 20, 2020 8:13 am

You are talking about muon catalyzed fusion. Its been around on a theoretical basis since the 50's. No use has been made of it and the real issue is the energy needed to create muons. They just don't hang around once created for more than 2 microseconds. This is a very interesting concept, but then there is the huge losses in creating the muons which are not happy in our universe. They are of another time and age altogether. We need over 100million eV in particle collisions to bring them forth into our freezing cold universe of today.

Not practical and not an amateur effort beyond mere musing with 0.0000 hope of doing it. It is even father out there than the much touted P+B11 aneutronic fusion that is known to exist but no machine has ever been built to work it.....The reason.....It required too much energy to make it happen when we can't even get the easiest of all fusions to take place to advantage. (D-T fusion).

Here, the best we can do is D-D fusion and many here have done it well at the experimental and amateur level.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Dennis P Brown
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Re: Extending the range of the nuclear force

Post by Dennis P Brown » Mon Apr 20, 2020 12:10 pm

There are a few fundemental misunderstandings in your post.

First, nuclear particles do not behave within the laws of thermodynamics. So, there is no such thing as a "thermodynamic gradient" relative to nuclear particles, much less elementary particles. Thermodynamics simply does not apply to subatomic particles like mesons/protons/neutrons.

The uncertainty priciple and borrowing energy from the 'vacuum' has nothing to do with meson production via typical nuclear reactions - there is no need for 'borrowing' under these super high energy conditions (lol.) Since many of these types of nuclear reactions produce huge amounts of available energy that can, under the right conditions (rules of physics for elementary particles) create various elementary partciles like muons or meson among many. Just that this isn't relavent for fusion. So, yes, while particle production occurs with nucleons mesons do not just come into existence spontaniously and then directly interact with nuclear systems causing large energy releases like fusion - ever. The properties of the quatum foam and any interaction with real particles is extremely small (and rare) and only seen in very special cases and never directly (see and read on the Lamb shift.)

The nuclear force does not really exist; the force that holds the protons together is 'leakage' of the strong force from within nucleons via glueons within these particles. Now, that statement of mine is a bit too strong since the energy within protons is huge and glueons do, when further excited produce many short range particles but your usage relative to their effect on the range of glueons (outside the proton) is too imprecise and can lead to serious misunderstanding of what is occuring. Here is another area you should read up upon before posting your speculations.

A more serious misunderstanding is that the coulomb barrier is not at all due to the 'residual nuclear force'. The coulomb barrier is solely due to the replusion of two positive protons in two fully ionized deuterium atoms (deuterons). The strong force and electromagnetic force have no direct relationship (until a fully unified theory of physics is developed - lol.) You are confusing two very different forces and need to, at the least, read some elementary writings on the four fundemental forces.

You also need to calculate how the electromagnetic force falls off over 10^-15 meters (to say it doesn't fall off much at all is an understatement.) That is a calculation any high school physics student can do - so, you should do that. Say, calculate the force between two protons at 1.0 * 10 ^-15 m and 2.0 * 10^-15 m. These are rather large distences for nuclear reactions and on the order of the coulomb barrier width so saying the electromagnetic force falls off rapidly isn't correct for these distances.

Also and rather importantly,'extenting the range' of the residual force is extremly beyond any current understanding of existing field theory/nuclear physics. The cause of tunneling is, as you grasp, a key part of fusion in a fusor;however, this process is a statement of fact, not something that comes from more basic physics; and as such, there is no known methodology to change that via the residual nuclear force or any fundemental aspect of the physics of this process.

Richard covers muon fusion very well (to improve the rate of fusion) for your understanding so no need for me to discuss that subject further.

In the future, never include the phrase "stuff of genius" when posting in a serious forum. That is very unprofessional anywhere, much less here (ditto on your minor self-effacing phase aferwards.)

Finally, please, do more reading on the subjects I mention before posting speculations - besides preventing errors, one gets the statisfaction of learning about a very intreresting field.

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