Saturday, June 13, 2009

Unknowns in the strong force

The electromagnetic force repels same charged particles and attracts oppositely charged particles. Similarly, the strong force attracts same charged particles
It is also possible that the strong force also repels differently charged particles. The repelling of the differently charged particles may help account for the stability of an atom (so that the electron does not degrade into the nucleus due to the electromagnetic force). However, the information I find usually says there is no significant strong force beyond about 1 fm (a tiny tiny tiny fraction of a meter). The distance between a hydrogen nucleus and its electron is about 50000 times greater than this rough limit for the strong force. This implies that the strong nuclear force plays no role in maintaining the distance of the atom's electron(s).

In the widely taught Bohr model, the orbit of an electron is maintained by a balance between the electromagnetic force that draws the electron towards the core and the centripetal force caused by its fast orbit. In such a model if the electron were to be hit by light and were to lose some energy/velocity, its orbit would degrade and it would eventually annihilate with the nucleus, letting off considerable energy. Matter appears to be much more stable than this. It seems plausible that the strong nuclear force plays a role in maintaining the stability of the atom by repelling the electron.