Contact Us
24 November 2021
SciFest Africa 2021
Prof Nico Orce will be a keynote speaker at SciFest Africa 2021 (South Africa's National Science Festival 2021), where he will give a talk on how we see the same elemental patterns in our universe.

This presentation is intended for the general public and will be presented on:

Date: Thursday, 2 December 2021  
Time: 14h00
Platform: Zoom


For more information please visit:

Topic: Elemental Patterns

Why do we see the same amounts of gold wherever we look in our Universe?


We see the same amounts of gold, silver, platinum and other elements wherever we look in our universe. Elements heavier than iron are produced by atomic nuclei capturing neutrons in stellar explosions such as neutron star mergers and supernovae. 

How much we can move on in the production of elements depends on the competition between the nucleus capturing a neutron or decaying, which ultimately depends on how the nucleus is bound together.  Through a collaboration of South African and Indian scientists we may have uncovered one of the hidden secrets of nature: Why do we see a universal pattern of elemental abundances? Nobody could explain this phenomenon until now. 

We look at our sun and we see a particular pattern of elemental abundances. We look at stars further away and the same thing happens! How could this be?  The answer is provided by the subtle interplay between nuclear physics and astrophysics - between the micro- and macro-cosmos - which results in a narrower nuclear landscape than expected. In a simple manner, there is only one N1 which connects Cape Town to Joburg, but it doesn't connect with Durban! Our conclusion is supported by data, theory and astronomical findings