“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way — things I had no words for.” –Georgia O’Keeffe
We thought — back in the time after Maxwell — that if we understood gravitation and electromagnetism, we’d understand all the forces in the Universe. But once we started to dive inside the atom, and once we discovered the atomic nucleus, a new puzzle arose.
You see, every atom other than hydrogen had multiple protons (and neutrons) inside of it. Yet if the protons had a positive electric charge and the neutrons had no electric charge, wouldn’t that intense repulsion between like charges drive all nuclei apart? But clearly that wasn’t what was happening in our Universe; something extra must be holding these nuclei together.
It took us decades to figure it out, but that’s what the strong force does. Come find out how it works!