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Thread: Popular physics: is the weak interaction a "force"?

  1. #1 Popular physics: is the weak interaction a "force"? 
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    I have a friend who is not versed in mathematics but is an avid consumer of popular physics. He really is sharp. He put the following question to me: is the weak force attractive or repulsive? Now I thought I knew a lot about about the weak interaction - it violates parity, it doesn't conserve CP, it is responsible for beta decay, at high energies it unifies with the electromagnetic interaction, etc. etc. But I could not answer my friend's question.

    I thought about telling him that it is not really a force. But we have a strong force, electromagnetic forces and a gravitational force. Why not a weak force?

    I think there are no bound states. Maybe it is not really a force. Does anyone have an answer to my friend's query? Thanks.
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  2. #2  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Naden View Post
    I have a friend who is not versed in mathematics but is an avid consumer of popular physics. He really is sharp. He put the following question to me: is the weak force attractive or repulsive? Now I thought I knew a lot about about the weak interaction - it violates parity, it doesn't conserve CP, it is responsible for beta decay, at high energies it unifies with the electromagnetic interaction, etc. etc. But I could not answer my friend's question.

    I thought about telling him that it is not really a force. But we have a strong force, electromagnetic forces and a gravitational force. Why not a weak force?

    I think there are no bound states. Maybe it is not really a force. Does anyone have an answer to my friend's query? Thanks.
    It is not really a force, see here. So, your friend's question does not have an answer.
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