Chronology of Milestone Events in Particle Physics - GAMOW 1946
Chronology of Milestone Events in Particle Physics

GAMOW 1946

Gamow, G.;
Expanding Universe and the Origin of Elements
Phys. Rev. 70 (1946) 572;

It is generally agreed at present that the relative abundance of various chemical elements were determined by physical conditions existing in the universe during the early stages of its expansion, when the temperature and density were sufficiently high to secure appreciable reaction-rates for the light as well as for the heavy nuclei.
In all the so-far published attempts in this direction the observed abundance-curve is supposed to represent some equilibrium state determined by nuclear binding energies at some very high temperature and density. This point of view encounters, however, serious difficulties in the comparison with empirical facts. Indeed, since binding energy is, in a first approximation, a linear function of atomic weight, any such equilibrium theory would necessarily lead to a rapid exponential decrease of abundance through the entire natural sequence of elements. It is known, however, that whereas such a rapid decrease actually takes place for the first half of chemical elements, the abundance of heavier nuclei remains nearly constant. Attempts have been made to explain this discrepancy by the assumption that heavy elements were formed at higher temperatures, and that their abundances were already "frozen'' when the adjustment of lighter elements was taking place. Such an explanation, however, can be easily ruled out if one remembers that at the temperatures and densities in question (about 1010K, and 106 g/cm3) nuclear transformations are mostly caused by the process of absorption and re-evaporation of free neutrons so that their rates are essentially the same for the light and for the heavy elements. Thus it appears that the only way of explaining the observed abundance-curve lies in the assumption of some kind of unequilibrium process taking place during a limited interval of time.
The above conclusion finds a strong support in the study of the expansion process itself. (Extracted from the introductory part of the paper.).

Related references
See also
von Weizsäcker, Phys.Zeitschr. 39 (1938) 633;
S. Chandrasekhar and Heinrich, Astr. Jour. 95 (1942) 288;
G. Watagin, Phys. Rev. 66 (1944) 149;
G. Gamow and E. Teller, Phys. Rev. 55 (1939) 654;
R. Tolman, Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology (Oxford Press, New York, 1934);
Hubble, The Realm of the Nebulae (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1936);
Goldschmidt, Verteilung der Elemente (Oslo, 1938);

Record comments
Gamow indication on the possibility to explain the observed chemical elements abundance-curve by assumption of unequilibrium process of elements formation during a limited interval of time. Birth of the Big Bang model.
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