German physicist who shared one-half of the 1963 Nobel Prize for Physics
with J. Hans D. Jensen of West Germany for their proposal of the shell
nuclear model. (The other half of the prize was awarded to Eugene P.
Wigner of the United States for unrelated work.)
The great stability and abundance of nuclei that have a particular
number of neutrons (such as 50, 82, or 126) and the same special number
of protons was explained by Mayer in 1949 in terms of the shell nuclear
model. This model explained the detailed properties of atomic nuclei
in terms of a structure of shells occupied by the protons and neutrons.
She and Jensen jointly wrote Elementary Theory of Nuclear Shell Structure
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