, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 228-240
Date: 14 Dec 2007

Majorana and the Quasi-Stationary States in Nuclear Physics

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A complete theoretical model describing artificial disintegration of nuclei by bombardment with α-particles, developed by Majorana as early as 1930, is discussed in detail jointly with the basic experimental evidences that motivated it. By following the quantum dynamics of a state resulting from the superposition of a discrete state with a continuum one, whose interaction is described by a given potential term, Majorana obtained (among the other predictions) the explicit expression for the integrated cross section of the nuclear process, which is the directly measurable quantity of interest in the experiments. Although this is the first application of the concept of quasi-stationary states to a Nuclear Physics problem, it seems also that the unpublished Majorana work anticipates by several years the related seminal paper by Fano on Atomic Physics.