locus = a place that is the center of a kind of activity; for example, the music room is the locus for the orchestra club; Silicon Valley is the locus of the technology world
core = the most important part or aspect of something; for example, the city core is where its government buildings and major businesses are; the core responsibilities of a doctor are to heal patients and do no harm
nucleus = a small group of people or things that are essential to something and that other people or things gather around; the nucleus of an atom is the protons and neutrons at the center which electrons orbit around; the nucleus of a corporation is its CEO and its board of directors
kernel = the most important or fundamental part of an idea, almost exclusively used in the fixed phrase "a kernel of truth" (= a fundamental true idea found in a larger concept that may or may not be true)
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