This game was designed and produced by LPC Caen to illustrate the laws of nuclear decay in the form of a “serious” game. It allows to better understand and illustrate the radioactive decays as well as the path of transformation of radioactive nuclei into stable nuclei. 

Nucleus Game plateau

The game consists in carrying out the decay path (radioactivity) from a nucleus A to a nucleus B. The paths have been constructed by the physicists in the laboratory to illustrate different aspects of nuclear physics research such as nucleosynthesis, radioactive isotopes used in medicine, natural radioactivity or energy production by fission. The public is invited to play on a board more than 4m50 long, with a number of squares approaching 3000! A complete but playful game, which remains affordable from 7 to 77 years old…

The board

The game consists of a board representing the map of the nuclei according to the numbers of neutrons and protons that make it up.

Thus, each of the squares on the board represents one of the 2938 known linked nuclei. These are symbolized by the colours of the six compartments drawn in the square: each colour corresponds to a decay to which a playing card is also associated.

Nucleus Game bannière
Nucleus Game bannière

To move from one nuclei to another, the player will have to have the desired decay card in his game, but in addition, roll the dice for the probability of decay of the nuclei.

Nucleus Game case

Decrease cards

Nucleus Game Alpha
α "alpha"

In 1908, E. Rutherford succeeded in proving that the radiation α are in fact helium nuclei, i.e. nuclei composed of 2 protons and 2 neutrons.

Radioactivity α is the preferred mode of decay of heavy radioactive nuclei (A > 150).

The peculiarity of the particle α is that it exits the nucleus by “tunnel effect”: it plays the role of a wall-passer by passing through the wall of energy that keeps the protons and neutrons inside the nucleus.

Nucleus Game Beta
β "bêta"

Beta radioactivity (β) was discovered at the same time as alpha radioactivity. While the β- radiation was quickly identified with electrons, it was not until the discovery of the anti-particle of the electron (positive: the positron), that it was assimilated to the β+, in 1932.

The β± decays are present from the lightest to the heaviest nuclei; they transform protons into neutrons or neutrons into protons and make neutron-rich or neutron-deficient elements more stable.

Nucleus Game Fission

Spontaneous fission is a form of radioactive decay characteristic of heavy isotopes.

During fission, the nucleus splits into two more or less equal parts.

To induce fission, the nucleus is usually bombarded with neutrons. Since fission also releases neutrons, it can lead to a second fission, which in turn can cause the nucleus to split… This is called a “chain reaction”. This is the mechanism that is used to produce energy in nuclear power plants.

Nucleus Game Joker

Nuclei can also react with each other or with certain particles (electrons, protons, photons, neutrons…).

If a limited number of reactions are used and studied, the possibilities are in principle unlimited.

Thus, thanks to an accelerator, it is possible, from any nucleus, to generate a different nucleus, often in its vicinity.

Nucleus Game Mission

Several mission maps allow players to determine the successive decreases necessary to transform one kernel into another, possibly going through a mandatory step.

The missions are characteristic of research activities carried out at LPC Caen: medical applications, downstream cycle, natural radioactivity…

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