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Book review

Author(s) Brink, D.M.
Title Semi-classical methods in nucleus-nucleus scattering
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Year of publication 1985
Reviewed by M. Marinov

Investigating collisions of atomic nuclei at high energies, one gets an important information on properties of nuclear matter. It is sufficient to mention the problems of the existence of ultra-heavy (and other exotic) nuclei and the formation of hot nuclear and quark-gluon plasmas. That was the reason for construction of expensive heavy-ion complexes, like GSI in Germany, or the reconstruction of particle accelerators of the previous generation into heavy-ion machines at Brookhaven and Dubna. Theoretically, a high-energy collision of nuclei is an extremely intricate process, since an immense number of degrees of freedom is involved. In the 70-ties and 80-ties, the experimental development prompted considerable theoretical efforts towards understanding the essence of nuclear collisions. The book by Brink, who contributed significantly to the theory of nuclear interactions, is a report on a decade of activity in that field.

The approach described in the book is based upon various semi-classical methods in the scattering theory, in particular, the path integrals and diffraction techniques. That approach was productive indeed, because of a physical reason, namely, smoothness of the interaction forces. The book is self-contained; it starts from basic quantum mechanics and presents an elegant description of a number of sophisticated approximate methods, like the rainbow scattering, diffraction theory for elastic and inelastic collisions, path integrals for fusion reactions. It is probably one of the best monographs on the theory of collisions of compound systems, published during the past decade; a valuable addition to the classical treatises on scattering theory, like those by M. Golberger and K. Watson ("Collision theory", J. Wiley, New York, 1964) or R. Newton ("Scattering theory of waves and particles", 2nd ed., J. Springer, Berlin etc., 1982). Apparently, in an effort to present the modern progress, the author did not describe the eikonal method for nuclear scattering and the Glauber approximation, the material which would not be out of place in his book.

As we believe at present, strongly interacting particles, like nucleons and mesons, are composite, namely, built of quarks and gluons. That is one of the reasons, why several years after Brink published his book it may still be of great interest to graduate students and research workers, first of all, in the areas of nuclear and particle physics. People who are doing chemical physics would also find there a lot of useful information. The publishers have reduced the price considerably, which makes the purchase even more attractive.