Forces Of Nature (34 Photos)

The weak nuclear force is responsible for a relatively small range of fundamental interactions. It mediates beta decay, what happens when a neutron breaks down into a proton and an electron or positron. Mediated by W and Z bosons, the weak nuclear force is about a hundred billion times weaker than the electromagnetic. It only operates over short distances.

The strong nuclear force holds together protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus. More specifically, it is mediated by the exchange of gluons between quarks making up protons and neutrons. The strong nuclear force is 100 times stronger than the electromagnetic force.

When nuclei are smashed in nuclear reactions, energy from the strong force is released. Described by the theory of physics called quantum chromodynamics, the strong force loses all its strength on distances much wider than the atomic nucleus.

Since the early 20th century, physicists have recognized four fundamental forces, or nteractions, which encompass all known phenomena in nature. Three out of four have been characterized rigorously and mathematically by the Standard Model, formulated in the early 1970s.

The four forces are the strong nuclear force (also known as the color force), the weak nuclear force (mediates beta decay), the electromagnetic force, and gravity.

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