Strong Nuclear Force

  

The Strong Nuclear Force is fine tuned for life. If the strong force was weaker than it is, the chemical elements needed for life would not be stable, and we would not be here. If it were stronger, all the hydrogen in the universe would have been burned to helium in the Big Bang. As a result, there would be no long-lived stars like the sun, and no water. There would probably be no complicated chemistry in the universe, and we would not be here.

Nuclear force is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, the others being gravitational and electromagnetic forces. In fact, being 10 million times stronger than the chemical binding forces, they are also known as the strong forces. In this section, we will discuss this force in detail. We can define nuclear force as. The strong nuclear force is one of four fundamental forces in nature. The strong force is 'felt' between nucleons (protons and neutrons) inside of the nucleus of an atom. The strong nuclear force is sometimes referred to as just the strong force or the strong interaction. Nuclear Force – Residual Strong Force. The residual strong force, also known as the nuclear force, is a very short range (about 1 to 3 fm) force, which acts to hold neutrons and protons together in nuclei. In nuclei, this force acts against the enormous repulsive electromagnetic force of the protons.

(A slightly longer version of this article, which includes some extended quotations from the source literature, and discusses one important objection to the fine tuning of the strong nuclear force, can be found at www.focus.org.uk/strongforce_long.pdf)

  • Another word for strong nuclear force. Find more ways to say strong nuclear force, along with related words, antonyms and example phrases at Thesaurus.com, the world's most trusted free thesaurus.
  • The strong nuclear force, also known as the strong interaction, is the strongest force in the universe, 10 38 times stronger than gravity and 100 times stronger than the electromagnetic force. The only catch is that it only operates on length-scales of the atomic nucleus, rapidly dropping off for longer distances.

In everyday life we’re only aware of two fundamental forces: gravity and electromagnetism. Physicists know about two more forces, which only work at very short range (inside atoms): the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force.

This article is about the strong nuclear force – the force that holds protons and neutrons together in the nucleus of atoms. It is about ten thousand billion billion billion billion times (1040) times more powerful than the force of gravity.

Picture two protons. They are pulled together by the strong nuclear force (as long as they are within range to start with.) But the electromagnetic force pushes them away from each other, because they both have the same positive electric charge.

The electromagnetic repulsion wins over the strong nuclear force attraction, and you can’t get two protons to stick together. So a nucleus made of just two protons (called a ‘diproton’) isn’t stable.

But if you add a neutron the balance of the forces shifts: neutrons feel the strong nuclear force, but they don’t feel the electromagnetic force, because they’re electrically neutral. So adding a neutron is enough to tip the balance: a nucleus made of two protons and one neutron is stable.

So the balance between the strong nuclear force and the electromagnetic force affects the way protons and neutrons can combine to make stable atomic nuclei. This balance has to be fine-tuned for life to be possible.

What would happen if the strong nuclear force were a bit weaker?

Strong Nuclear Force Images

If the strong force were a bit weaker, it would not be able to hold atomic nuclei together against the repulsion of the electromagnetic force. According to Barrow and Tipler:

‘A 50% decrease in the strength of the nuclear force… would adversely affect the stability of all the elements essential to living organisms and biological systems.’[1]

Strong Nuclear Force Equation

A bit more of a decrease, and there wouldn’t be any stable elements except hydrogen.

What would happen if the strong nuclear force were a bit stronger?

Strong Nuclear Force Definition

Strong Nuclear Force

If the strong nuclear force was just a bit stronger compared to the electromagnetic force, two protons could stick together in spite of their electromagnetic repulsion (forming a diproton).

If this happened, all the hydrogen in the universe would have been burned to helium in the big bang. It’s very difficult to imagine how a universe with no hydrogen could produce the complicated chemistry needed for life– there would be no water, for a start, and there would be no long-lived stars like the sun. (Stars made from helium burn up much more quickly than stars made from hydrogen.) Barrow and Tipler again:

‘All the hydrogen in the Universe would be burned to He2 during the early stages of the big bang and no hydrogen compounds or long-lived stable stars would exist today.’[2]

Conclusion

Strong Nuclear Force Vs Weak

If the strong nuclear force was weaker than it is, the chemical elements needed for life would not be stable, and we would not be here. If it were stronger, all the hydrogen in the universe would have been burned to helium in the Big Bang. As a result, there would be no long-lived stars like the sun, and no water. There would probably be no complicated chemistry in the universe, and we would not be here.

David Couchman MA, M.Sc, M.Min, August 2010

[1] Barrow, J D and Tipler, F J, ‘The Anthropic Cosmological Principle’ Oxford University Press 1986, p. 327

[2] Barrow and Tipler, p. 322

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The Big Bang Theory states that during the first second of the Universe, all matter was broken down into sub-atomic particles. The strong nuclear force pulled positively and negatively charged quarks together to form positively charged protons and neutrally charged neutrons. The strong nuclear force also binds protons and neutrons in the nucleus of atoms. The weak nuclear force enabled complex atoms to form through nuclear fusion. If the strong and weak nuclear forces did not exist, then stars, galaxies, and planets would never have been formed.

Strong Nuclear Force: Two positive charges repel each other because of the electromagnetic force, so the strong nuclear force lives up to its name by overcoming the intense repulsion between similarly charged particles that coexist in the nucleus of atoms. When the strong nuclear force that binds protons and neutrons in an atom is broken, extreme high-energy photons are released in the process.

Weak Nuclear Force: The weak nuclear force can change a neutron into a proton in a process called nuclear decay. When the weak nuclear force converts a neutrally charged neutron into a positively charged proton, sub-atomic particles are released near the speed of light.

When the nuclei of atoms smash together or break apart, they often change their mass in the process. This gain or loss of mass corresponds to a loss or gain of energy, as well. The strong and weak nuclear forces are what enable fission and fusion energy to create the devastating power of nuclear weapons, as well as powering the core of stars.

High-energy X-ray and gamma ray astronomers study the radiation that results from the strong and weak nuclear force breaking down in the nucleus of atoms. The electromagnetic force repels protons from each other, but extreme high-energy events like supernova explosions and merging black holes can force protons to smash together and release a high-energy photon, so it is important to study high-energy radiation to understand how stars are created, how they function over time, and how they transform into neutron stars and black holes.