magic number


noun Physics.

the atomic number or neutron number of an exceptionally stable nuclide.

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Origin of magic number

First recorded in 1945–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for magic number

magic number

noun

physics any of the numbers 2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, and 126. Nuclides with these numbers of nucleons appear to have greater stability than other nuclides
chem a number of atoms that is particularly stable in certain types of compound that have clusters of the same type of atom
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for magic number

magic number
[ măjĭk ]

Any of the numbers, 2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, or 126, that represent the number of neutrons or protons in strongly bound and exceptionally stable atomic nuclei. The existence of such stable nuclei is explained by assuming a shell structure for nucleons, much like the shell structure of electron orbitals around the nucleus.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.