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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Nuclear Physics: Exploring the Heart of Matter

Nuclear physics today is a diverse field, encompassing research that spans dimensions from a tiny fraction of neutrons and protons in the atomic nucleus to the enormous scales of astrophysical objects in the cosmos.

Its research objectives include the desire not only to better understand the nature of matter interacting at the nuclear level but to describe the liquid state of the Universe that existed at the big bang—a phenomenon that can now be replicated in the most advanced colliding-beam accelerators. Its discoveries impact other fields such as astrophysics, particle physics, and cosmology, while the tools developed by nuclear physicists not only are employed by other basic sciences but have found wide-spread applications in a range of technologies that benefit society.

The Committee on Assessment of and Outlook for Nuclear Physics (NP 2010) has prepared a report assessing the outlook for nuclear physics research in the United States.  Building on the U.S. Department of Energy's Nuclear Science Advisory Committee’s "2007 Long-range Plan Report," this report, Exploring the Heart of Matter, develops a clear and compelling articulation of the scientific rationale and objectives for nuclear physics, placing near-term goals in a broader international context.  This report also puts the long-term priorities for the field (in terms of major facilities, research infrastructure, and scientific manpower) into a global context and recommends a strategy that can serve as a framework for progress in U.S. nuclear physics through 2020 and beyond. 

In conjunction with that report, two videos have been prepared that illustrate several of the main ideas from NP2010. Those videos can be seen here:

Long version



Short version


For more information on the authoring committee please see the NP2010 web site.


The project is pleased to acknowledge support from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the National Academies’ Office of Communications.  These videos were produced by Martin Waymire Advocacy Communications.

Copyright 2012, National Academy of Sciences.