Nodular structures called skyrmionscan help scientists unravel the inner workings of atomic nuclei. A skirmion is a tiny disturbance in a substance, a swirling pattern that looks like a nodule that is difficult to unravel. In the 1960s, nuclear physicist Tony Skyrm suggested that such structures could represent protons and neutrons in the nucleus in theoretical calculations. But despite all the charm of the idea, it died out. In particular, skyrmion calculations gave out deformed nuclei.

In fact, protons and neutrons are made up ofsmaller subatomic particles - quarks and gluons - and the fundamental theory that describes the interaction of these particles, quantum chromodynamics, is incredibly complex. Skyrmions could simplify the calculations - if only they would give the correct answers.

Physicists from the University of Durham in England decidedsome problems of skyrmions, exploring the atomic nuclei of carbon-12. New results are approaching "physically meaningful." In the end, such calculations can help scientists study the amazing properties of certain nuclei. An example is carbon-14, a radioactive variant of carbon that can be used to date ancient artifacts.

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