Starts With A Bang

What Is The Strongest Force In The Universe? (Synopsis)

Image credit: Contemporary Physics Education Project / DOE / NSF / LBNL, via

“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.

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.

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