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Atomic Mass Unit Carbon 12

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At carbon, the ratio of mass (in daltons) to mass number is defined as 1, and after carbon it becomes less than one until a minimum is reached at iron-56 (with only slightly higher values for iron-58 and nickel-62), then increases to positive values in the heavy isotopes, with increasing atomic number. This corresponds to the fact that nuclear fission in an element heavier than zirconium produces energy, and fission in any element lighter than niobium requires energy. On the other hand, nuclear fusion of two atoms of an element lighter than scandium (except for helium) produces energy, whereas fusion in elements heavier than calcium requires energy. The fusion of two atoms of He-4 to give beryllium-8 would require energy, and the beryllium would quickly fall apart again. He-4 can fuse with tritium (H-3) or with He-3, and these processes occurred during Big Bang nucleosynthesis. The formation of elements with more than seven nucleons requires the fusion of three atoms of He-4 in the so-called triple alpha process, skipping over lithium, beryllium, and boron to produce carbon.



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