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Last seen on: LA Times Crossword 10 Mar 19, Sunday
Random information on the term “BARN”:
A barn (symbol: b) is a unit of area equal to 10−28 m2 (100 fm2). Originally used in nuclear physics for expressing the cross sectional area of nuclei and nuclear reactions, today it is also used in all fields of high-energy physics to express the cross sections of any scattering process, and is best understood as a measure of the probability of interaction between small particles. A barn is approximately the cross-sectional area of a uranium nucleus. The barn is also the unit of area used in nuclear quadrupole resonance and nuclear magnetic resonance to quantify the interaction of a nucleus with an electric field gradient. While the barn is not an SI unit, the SI standards body acknowledges its existence due to its continued use in particle physics.
The etymology of the unit barn is whimsical: during Manhattan Project research on the atomic bomb during World War II, American physicists at Purdue University needed a secretive unit to describe the approximate cross sectional area presented by the typical nucleus (10−28 m2) and decided on “barn”. This was particularly applicable because they considered this a large target for particle accelerators that needed to have direct strikes on nuclei and the American idiom “couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn” refers to someone whose aim is terrible. Initially they hoped the name would obscure any reference to the study of nuclear structure; eventually, the word became a standard unit in nuclear and particle physics.