“The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.” -Swami Vivekananda

But what does it truly mean to be strong? We have four fundamental forces in the Universe: the strong, electromagnetic, weak and gravitational forces. You might think that, by virtue of its name, the strong force is the strongest one. And you’d be right, from a particular point of view: at the smallest distance scales, 10^-16 meters and below, no other force can overpower it.

Image credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey, of IC 1101, the largest known individual galaxy in the Universe.

Image credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey, of IC 1101, the largest known individual galaxy in the Universe.

But under the right circumstances, each of the forces can shine. Up until recently, on the largest scales, we thought that gravitation — by and large the weakest of the forces — was the only force that mattered. And yet, when we look on the very largest scales, many billions of light years in size, even gravitation doesn’t win the day.

Image credit: NASA & ESA, of possible models of the expanding Universe.

Image credit: NASA & ESA, of possible models of the expanding Universe.

There are four possible answers depending on how you look at the question. Come find out who’s the strongest of them all!

Comments

  1. #1 Denier
    April 27, 2016

    Are the Color Force and the Strong Nuclear Force the same thing?

  2. #2 See Noevo
    April 27, 2016

    Would it be too much to ask where the strong, electromagnetic, weak and gravitational forces came from?

    And why each is at its necessary (i.e. necessary for our lives and our universe), very particular, precise “setting” –
    one exact setting out of an infinite number of possible settings?

    I thought so.

  3. #3 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    April 27, 2016

    SN, it becomes more & more obvious you need to read to get the information you require. Go back to 2008 & start with Ethans threads from then. I’m confident you will find all the answers you seek.
    Young children ask questions as they learn about life. As they grow & learn how to read, the questions become less; they become capable of working things out for themselves. Research is up to the individual once educated enough to continue through life.
    Go do some work for yourself. You might enjoy the experience.

  4. #4 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    April 27, 2016

    @Denier #1: Yes, they are. The term “color force” is a metaphor. Murray Gell-Mann and others in the 1960’s used the three-color system from our visual system as a model, or set of labels, to easily identify and describe the SU(3) group symmetry they discovered underlay the strong nuclear force. The “color” metaphor is also the source of the name quantum chromodynamics (QCD) for the fully quantum field theory of the nuclear force.

  5. #5 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    April 27, 2016

    @See Noknowledge #1: Would it be too much to ask that you learn how to answer your own questions? Or are you too afraid of knowledge to do that?

  6. #6 See Noevo
    April 27, 2016

    To PJ #3 and Mikey the SLACker #5:

    As I said, it’s too much to ask.
    Because I know you can’t answer.

  7. #7 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    April 27, 2016

    Then do not bother asking. Remain in your own ignorance. You do not know what we can and cannot answer!

  8. #8 eric
    April 28, 2016

    SN:

    Would it be too much to ask where the strong, electromagnetic, weak and gravitational forces came from?

    Well, AIUI the strong, weak and EM came from temperature (well, energy-density)-dependent symmetry breaking, having been a single force early in the universe. AIUI the question remains open whether that force and gravity also combine at even higher temperature. But we know that those one or two combined forces originally arose from the intelligent design of the magical fairies currently residing in my tulips. Its the most logical explanation!

  9. #9 See Noevo
    April 28, 2016

    To eric #8:

    “Well, AIUI the strong, weak and EM came from …”

    As I said, you can’t answer.
    At least not with anything non-nonsensical.

  10. #10 dean
    April 28, 2016

    sn, you will always say an answer is wrong because you don’t understand it or believe it contradicts your (incorrectly named” “common sense”.

    It is clearly too complicated for someone like you to understand, but “AIUI” is often used to express complicated explanations in simpler, non-technical terms. It isn’t that Eric’s answer was wrong, it’s that he was wasting his time thinking that you had any honest interest in an answer.

  11. #11 Sean T
    April 28, 2016

    SN

    I realize you don’t really want an answer. However I will give you one. To a very great extent, the answer is that it doesn’t really matter. General Relativity (or Newton’s approximation of it) can be used for all practical purposes to predict what will happen in any gravitational interaction. QCD and electroweak theory can be used to predict interactions occurring via the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces. To a great extent, the source of these forces is irrelevant.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that nobody’s interested in the origin. I know, of course, you’ll only accept one answer: Zeus did it. (That is the answer you’re looking for, right? Or perhaps Odin did it?) The problem with such “explanations” is that they really don’t explain anything. Even if God did it, how did God do it? That would still be the subject of scientific inquiry. You would undoubtedly say God spoke the forces into existence. Well, then the scientist would counter with “what are the properties of the sound waves produced by God?” “By what processes are these sound waves converted into forces”, etc. In general, religious “explanations” are really nothing more than a way to avoid giving an actual explanation. It’s all a mystery, don’t you know. That makes it rather simple, doesn’t it? You don’t have to do any of that hard work or learning to say that God did it and we really can’t understand how.

  12. #12 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    April 28, 2016

    @See Noknolwedge: The question is too much for _you_ to ask, because you are not interested in an answer. You are a dissembling, willfully ignorant deceiver. People like you have been well known since ancient times; see, for example, Matt 41:1-11, Eph 4:29, 1 Tim 6:4-5. You are merely the latest liar who tries to use your false “God” as a flail and a seduction, instead of the path to knolwedge and truth to which the church fathers hewed.

  13. #13 Denier
    United States
    April 28, 2016

    @Michael Kelsey #4

    Thanks. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. The Color Force is mediated by the Gluon and get stronger with distance. The Strong Nuclear Force is mediated by the Pi and Rho Meson, and gets weaker rapidly with distance. They seem very different and yet they’re the same thing because, you know, Quantum Mechanics. Weird.

  14. #14 MIchael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    April 28, 2016

    @Denier #13: I think you’ve probably been reading historical pop-science stuff, which is why you’re so confused.

    What you are describing is an “effective field theory” — it is an approximation used over a certain (fairly limited) range, when the full theory is too mathematically complex to be used easily.

    Mesons (such as the pi, rho, omega, D, B, etc.) are bound states of a quark and antiquark. That binding arises from gluons and is described by QCD. Similarly, nucleons (protons and neutrons) are bound states of three quarks, again held together by the exchange of gluons in QCD.

    When we study nuclear structure and interactions of particles with nuclei, we notice that the nucleus can be relatively well described as a collection of neutrons and protons, themselves treated as “simple” particles. We can approximate the short-range force holding those nucleons to each other (but not affecting the nuclei of other atoms) by way of a “Yukawa coupling”, which falls of exponentially, with a scale factor given by the mass of the force-particle we assume is being exchanged.

    By building up this effective field theory, to get calculated results which more and more accurately reflect measurements, we can approximate the full QCD theory.

    We don’t have to use the full power of QCD to look at the complete collection of quarks and gluons all confined togeher in the nucleus.

  15. #15 See Noevo
    April 28, 2016

    To Sean T #11:

    “Even if God did it, how did God do it? That would still be the subject of scientific inquiry.”

    And science would come up with nothing.
    You apparently don’t understand the definition of “miracle”.

    And you *do* believe in miracles – the greatest of which is something coming from nothing.

  16. #16 See Noevo
    April 28, 2016

    To Mickey the SLACker #12:

    If you’re going to attempt to slay me with Bible verses, at the very least, you should use *real* Bible verses (Matt 41?).

    And you have no “k n o l w e d ge” to answer my questions in #2.

  17. #17 Denier
    United States
    April 28, 2016

    @MIchael Kelsey #14

    When we study nuclear structure and interactions of particles with nuclei, we notice that the nucleus can be relatively well described as a collection of neutrons and protons, themselves treated as “simple” particles. We can approximate the short-range force holding those nucleons to each other (but not affecting the nuclei of other atoms) by way of a “Yukawa coupling”, which falls of exponentially, with a scale factor given by the mass of the force-particle we assume is being exchanged.

    When you add enough heat so that all the hadrons melt into Quark-Gluon Plasma, does the Strong Nuclear Force decrease with distance or no?

  18. #18 dean
    United States
    April 28, 2016

    You apparently don’t understand the definition of “miracle”./blockquote>
    Miracle: a word used by the those whose intellect has been deadened by religion to describe things they don’t understand and are too lazy to investigate.

  19. #19 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    April 28, 2016

    Re SN @ #16

    ‘And you have no “k n o l w e d ge” to answer my questions in #2.’

    Anyone got any ideas what that word is supposed to mean??

  20. #20 Ragtag Media
    United States
    April 28, 2016

    @PJ # 19
    Quote:
    “‘And you have no “k n o l w e d ge” to answer my questions in #2.”

    So PJ, you slam SN as to your “questions in #2” yet your question was actually in #3. SN posted in #2.
    So as a thinking human being you screwed up that question from the get go, NO MATH INVOLVED at all.

    That was my point (which you wisely noticed and pointed out to her) a month or so ago when I pointed out how Woozy misspelled a word.
    A supposed rational thinking being that has all the answers but yet misspells a simple word.

    In a nut shell that’s the whole point of the judeo christian concept.
    God is 100% perfect to meet that mark a human has to attain that mark of perfection.
    It can’t be done.
    Kinda like going faster than the speed of light.
    It can’t be done.

  21. #21 Ragtag Media
    United States
    April 28, 2016

    PJ, do you see how simple we as humans can misunderstand a simple point?
    A single misunderstanding of ONE point can turn the world upside down if the one person with authority makes an in-correct OR correct decision.
    Is there really a difference?

  22. #22 See Noevo
    April 28, 2016

    To PJ #19:

    “Re SN @ #16
    ‘And you have no “k n o l w e d ge” to answer my questions in #2.’
    Anyone got any ideas what that word is supposed to mean??”

    Ask Mikey the SLACker.
    Or at least re-read his #12.

  23. #23 See Noevo
    April 28, 2016

    To Ragtag Media #20:

    “In a nut shell that’s the whole point of the judeo christian concept.
    God is 100% perfect to meet that mark a human has to attain that mark of perfection.
    It can’t be done.
    Kinda like going faster than the speed of light.
    It can’t be done.”

    I don’t understand this.

  24. #24 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    April 28, 2016

    @See Noknowledge #16: You’re right about my typo; thank you. That should have been Matthew 4, not “41”. There’s no obvious way you could have known that.

    I have plenty of actual knowledge of mathematics and quantum field theory to answer your questions in #2. You don’t have the basics to comprehend (or the desire, for that matter) the answers. You just want to continue your dissembling and deception, just like the Adversary you aspire to be.

  25. #25 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    April 28, 2016

    @Denier #17: You wrote, “When you add enough heat so that all the hadrons melt into Quark-Gluon Plasma, does the Strong Nuclear Force decrease with distance or no?”

    Are you still asking about the effective exchange of mesons in the nucleus? Meson-exchange is a low-energy effective theory, suitable for neutrons and protons in a nucleus. QGP is a very high energy state, and should be evaluated using QCD, not a low-energy model.

  26. #26 Narad
    April 28, 2016

    To Sean T #11:

    “Even if God did it, how did God do it? That would still be the subject of scientific inquiry.”

    And science would come up with nothing.
    You apparently don’t understand the definition of “miracle”.

    And you *do* believe in miracles – the greatest of which is something coming from nothing.

    If you’re going to pretend at theology, you could at least attempt to explain why the idea popped into G-d’s head one day and what he had been doing for the preceding part of eternity.

    Your routine attempts at attention-whoring here* demonstrate that what you really cling to in this context is simply a very primitive creation myth, rather than anything remotely connected to Christian theology.

    * He’s been even more pathetic at RI recently.

  27. #27 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    April 28, 2016

    Aw, R%M, ya missed it ! For starters, I didn’t ask a question in #3. The sentence was referenced with the word KNOLWEDGE outlined. So far, no error on my part.
    As for your reference to your god, that is your belief as to how you deal with it. That takes care of #20.
    As for your #21, relevance is ????

  28. #28 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    April 28, 2016

    @SN, #22
    No need for comment, Mr. Kelsey is doing a fine job. 🙂

  29. #29 See Noevo
    April 29, 2016

    To Mikey the SLACker #24:

    “I have plenty of actual knowledge of mathematics and quantum field theory to answer your questions in #2.”

    You’ve got nothing.

  30. #30 Sean T
    April 29, 2016

    SN

    I get it now. Miracle = something that we cannot even hope to understand. Surely, though, you can see that you’ll never be taken seriously here with that, right? We don’t know is a perfectly acceptable answer to a scientific question. There in fact are many areas of inquiry where that’s currently the most accurate answer. We CAN’T know, on the other hand, is an answer that is essentially the antithesis of science. Science is predicated on the notion that the universe is understandable. Religion, or at least the conception of it you seem to be espousing is predicated onthe opposite notion, that the universe is fundamentally non-understandable.

    Well, who’s right? Your position is not a new one. In fact for most of history humans have seen the universe as a random and capricious place. Humans have invented gods to try to ecplain why things happen. However as science has advanced, the universe looks more and more understandable. Your position is essentially a “god of the gaps” one, and the gaps are shrinking. You may be right; we may be reaching the limits of human undrrstanding. I wouldn’t bet on it though.

    It’s happened before – in the late 19th century, the scientific community thought all basic principles were known. All that was left was explaining a few “minor” problems like the anomalous orbit of Mercury and the spectrum of the radiation emitted by black bodies. Of course, those minor problems turned into a total scientific revolution that greatly increased our understanding of the universe.

    That’s why science works and religion does not. Religion assumes that at any given time, we know everything we need to know. That leads to stagnation. Why bother to try to figure things out when it’s all just miracles anyway? Science doesn’t do that. You say it’s a miracle, no use trying to figure it out. We’re going to keep trying to figure it out anyway; we don’t do miracles – they’re a dead end.

  31. #31 dean
    United States
    April 29, 2016

    “You’ve got nothing.”

    The next time someone attempts to argue that religion doesn’t have a dulling influence on intellectual ability or integrity, show them a string of sn’s “answers” and finish with that one.

  32. #32 Denier
    United States
    April 29, 2016

    @Michael Kelsey #25

    Are you still asking about the effective exchange of mesons in the nucleus? Meson-exchange is a low-energy effective theory, suitable for neutrons and protons in a nucleus. QGP is a very high energy state, and should be evaluated using QCD, not a low-energy model.

    I was more interested in what the Strong Nuclear Force looked like when it wasn’t being bound up in Mesons or an atomic nucleus, but after thinking about it realize it isn’t the more interesting aspect of Quark Gluon Plasma.

    As I understand the Strong Nuclear Force, it is so strong that a single quark will create a partner quark out of nothing rather than remain single. The energy density of QGP is so high that quark pairs are constantly knocked free, and the singles pull ever more partners out of vacuum. If I get this correctly, there is no such thing as a stable volume of QGP. It grows exponentially until it can condense out of the plasma state. If left in that state long enough it can turn a single quark into a universe of matter.

  33. #33 See Noevo
    April 29, 2016

    To Sean T #30:

    “I get it now.”

    No. Apparently you still don’t.

    “Science is predicated on the notion that the universe is understandable.”

    I agree.

    “Religion, or at least the conception of it you seem to be espousing is predicated on the opposite notion, that the universe is fundamentally non-understandable.”

    I disagree completely.
    And in fact, the very notion that the universe is understandable is a religious, or at least, philosophical, notion. It is not a scientific notion.

    “However as science has advanced, the universe looks more and more understandable.”

    Of course it does. As you study things, you learn more and more.
    However, the fallacy you live by is that the only things knowable, or worth knowing, are those which only science can reveal.
    And that is not only fallacious, it’s not scientific.
    It’s a false philosophy.

    “Your position is essentially a “god of the gaps” one, and the gaps are shrinking.”

    And your position is a “miracle of the gaps”.
    Miracles as in life coming from non-life.
    Miracles as in eyeballs evolving.
    What’s worse, they’re miracles that have never been witnessed in nature nor or in a science laboratory.

    “You may be right; we may be reaching the limits of human undrrstanding. I wouldn’t bet on it though.”

    Yes, I may be right.
    And I *would* bet on it if I could.

    “That’s why science works and religion does not.”

    You may be one of those participants that author was talking about. I posted it recently:
    “Here in Silicon Valley, one can scarcely go a day without seeing a t-shirt reading “Science: It works, b—es!” The hero of the recent popular movie The Martian boasts that he will “science the sh— out of” a situation. One of the largest groups on Facebook is titled “I f—ing love Science!” (a name which, combined with the group’s penchant for posting scarcely any actual scientific material but a lot of pictures of natural phenomena, has prompted more than one actual scientist of my acquaintance to mutter under her breath, “What you truly love is pictures”).”
    ………..
    “Religion assumes that at any given time, we know everything we need to know.”

    I agree, with a proviso.
    Religion, or at least Catholicism, doesn’t assume it has all the answers, not even all the spiritual answers (let alone scientific or material answers).
    But Catholicism does propose everything we *need* to know for the *most important* issues.

  34. #34 dean
    United States
    April 29, 2016

    so sn, you don’t have any answers, just a fallback to a religion that doesn’t explain anything but does disagree with you on the state of science, and your usual misrepresentation of facts and complete refusal to attempt to learn anything. How long has your mental state been in decay?

  35. #35 Ragtag Media
    April 29, 2016

    ‘As for your #21, relevance is ????’
    Simple, it’s called mistakes.

  36. #36 Narad
    April 29, 2016

    Religion, or at least Catholicism, doesn’t assume it has all the answers

    You’re about as Catholic as a used condom left in an alley.

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