Nuclear physics in the cosmos

Dr. Carlos Bertulani
Texas A&M University

Nuclear astrophysics studies the physics of atomic nuclei, gravity, and thermodynamics in the early universe, stars and stellar explosions. Seventy years of nuclear science has allowed us to infer the origin of the chemical elements out of which our bodies and the Earth are made. We now believe that the lightest elements were created in nuclear reactions in the first three minutes after the big bang, and all the rest were made in nuclear reactions inside the stars and distributed throughout interstellar space via stellar winds and giant stellar explosions. I will show how a new generation of theoretical developments and experiments can shed light on the complex nuclear processes that control the evolution of stars and stellar explosions. But I will also discuss the role of unconquerable experimental and theoretical problems. In fact, if I may, I might just talk about such problems