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Toolkits for Nuclear Science: Data and Spreadsheets

Published

Author(s)

Richard M. Lindstrom

Abstract

The tools for performing everyday nuclear science have undergone great transformations in the past decade. Because of the ubiquity and speed of networked desktop computers and compatible software, definitive data and high-quality algorithms are widely and readily available. The combination of well-tested spreadsheet programs with reliable data in electronic form has changed the way we approach a problem in or experiment planning and computation of results. If there is a computer within reach on the desktop or in the briefcase, it can be faster to calculate a formula weight than to look it up in a handbook. Often it is easier to find data on the Internet than in a book (for example gamma-ray energies), and it is not necessary to own or locate the book. A large number of mathematical and statistical functions and tools are built into spreadsheet programs, so that solutions to complex problems such as nonlinear least-squares minimization can be obtained without the need to know a high-level programming language. This ease of access and use has led to a flowering of software applications based on spreadsheets in radiochemical laboratories, custom built for the task at hand. These applications are mostly written by scientists, not by professional programmers trained in numerical methods. Although they are built upon robust spreadsheet programs, those frameworks were designed mostly for business users, not scientists. Formal quality systems increasingly call for verified computational methods and reference data as part of the analytical process, a demand that is difficult to meet with the casually written and thinly documented spreadsheets in regular use. Examples are given of utility software and data tables used in our laboratory, with suggestions for verification and quality maintenance.
Citation
Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry
Volume
270
Issue
2

Keywords

activation analysis, nuclear data, spreadsheets

Citation

Lindstrom, R. (2006), Toolkits for Nuclear Science: Data and Spreadsheets, Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry (Accessed April 14, 2024)
Created January 1, 2006, Updated February 17, 2017