A random walk in reactor physics and neutron transport
Artikel i övriga tidskrifter, 2020

The title of this paper alludes to two different meanings of “random”. First, the phrase “Random walk” refers to the fact that I selected, at random, a few topics which I myself found fascinating, surprising, and hence hopefully entertaining, in the hope that the reader will also find them entertaining. The phenomena that will be described and discussed here will reveal some unexpected features, which in some cases are puzzling or even counter-intuitive, and their explanation sometimes discloses commonly accepted misbeliefs or misunderstandings. I always found such cases very intriguing. Inevitably, such subjects do not constitute a continuous story, rather they are picked randomly, hence the first meaning of the phrase “random walk” in the title.

Curiosities similar to the types that will be discussed in this note are usually published as a “Letter to the Editor” or a “Technical Note”, since they do not contain new research results. A few examples are given in Ref [1] (meaning of the flux) and Refs [2] - [4] (number of collisions until slowing down). The readers are encouraged to check up these letters or technical notes. Many are, in contrast to the present article, quite short, often only one page, hence the “output/input ratio” in intellectual entertainment is quite high. I can also recommend the readers to watch out for such short notes by themselves (although, sadly, the number of such notes seems to be decreasing).

The second reason why the word “random” appears in the title is because the curious facts and phenomena which will be discussed here concern the randomness of neutron transport, manifesting itself in the fact that the number of neutrons in the system, or the number of detector counts during a time period, is a random number or random process (hence often referred to as neutron fluctuations or neutron noise). Random processes in general, whether about neutrons or other processes, have themselves fascinating and surprising properties. The subjects discussed in this small essay will hopefully also expedite a wider understanding of the properties and use of neutron fluctuations in nuclear systems.

With this introduction, I invite the reader to follow me on the random walk in the fascinating world of random particle transport.

Författare

Imre Pazsit

Chalmers, Fysik, Subatomär, högenergi- och plasmafysik

J. Reactor Phys. Section of AESJ

Vol. 72 3 1-12

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2020-09-15