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Nature’s Structural Elements


Ian Beardsley

Copyright © 2018 by Ian Beardsley

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In my book Sublime Structure In Nature, I showed there was a common structure between
artificial intelligence (AI) and biological life and that by looking at the path to AI we might be
able to find the path to biological life. In this work the author shows how the building blocks

for AI and the biological fall under Robert Conroy’s Nature’s Structural Elements. His website
Nature’s Structural Elements is archived online.

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Central to the emergence of life in the universe is the formation of carbon. Just how do stars
make carbon? It starts from the formation of helium, from hydrogen. Hydrogen was created in
the big bang that gave birth to the Universe. First, there is the proton-proton chain. This where
helium nuclei are created from protons. You start with 4 protons and end up with helium, and
some positrons.

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Once the star produces enough helium, carbon can be made through the triple-alpha process.
But, this reaction is unlikely to occur unless the carbon-12 produced is in an excited state. We
ask can a nucleus be excited if there are no electrons? Is an excited state of carbon possible?
The answer is yes, it was predicted by Fred Hoyle, and is known as the Hoyle-state. It had
been shown to be possible experimentally, but not theoretically until recently when NC State
University physicist Dean Lee and others published the calculation. Here is the abstract:

Ab Initio Calculation Of The Hoyle State

Authors: Dean Lee, North Carolina State University; Evgeny Epelbaum and Hermann Krebs,
Institut fur Theoretische Physik II, Ruhr-Universitat Bocchum, Germany; Ulf-G. Meissner,
Helmholtz-Institut fur Strahlen-und Kernphysik and Bethe Center for Theoretical Physics,
Universitat Bonn, Germany

Published May 9 online and May 13 in print in Physical Review Letters


The Hoyle state plays a crucial role in the helium burning of stars heavier than our sun and in
the production of carbon and other elements necessary for life. This excited state of the
carbon-13 nucleus was postulated by Hoyle as a necessary ingredient for the fusion of three
alpha particles to produce carbon at stellar temperatures. Although the Hoyle state was seen
experimentally more than half a century ago nuclear theorists have not yet uncovered the
nature of this state from first principles. In this letter we report the first ab initio calculation of
the low lying states of carbon-12 using supercomputer lattice simulations and a theoretical
framework know as effective field theory. In addition to the ground state and excited spin-2,
state, we find a resonance at -85(3) MeV with all of the properties of the Hoyle state and in
agreement with the experimentally observed energy.

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The Author