Beyond the God Particle
two protons and two neutrons. 12
    Nuclei, like helium containing two or more protons, can only be held together by a very strong force—which is simply called the strong force . This nuclear-binding strong force has to be ultra-strong because the protons each have positive electric charges and therefore repel one another electrically. The nucleus of an atom like helium would instantly fly apart unless an overwhelmingly strong force compensated for this electrical repulsion and bound the protons, together with the neutrons, into the compactnucleus. Indeed, a nucleus like uranium, with 92 protons, is very unstable because of the enormous repulsive electrical forces of so many protons. Uranium therefore has many isotopes , such as U 233 (where 233 = 92 protons + 141 neutrons), U 235 (92 protons + 143 neutrons), U 238 (92 protons + 146 neutrons), etc. Notice that we can package more neutrons into uranium because they are electrically neutral, and even help the binding together of the 92 protons. The strong force is about 10,000 times stronger than electromagnetism, and it can hold nuclei together up to about 100 protons.
    Very heavy nuclei with lots of protons are generally unstable due to this electric repulsion. They undergo fission (spontaneously break apart) into lighter nuclei.
    Forces, in our quantum world, are actually generated by particles. The force between two objects, like a proton and a proton, is caused by lighter particles that jump to and fro between the two protons. The repulsive electrical force is caused by the jumping of photons, the particle of light, back and forth between the protons. The strong force had to be due to something else.
    A particle responsible for the strong force was predicted by the Japanese physicist Hideki Yukawa, 13 in 1935, based upon the known properties of the atomic nucleus. Yukawa reasoned that the force of electromagnetism is comparatively long range—the electric force between charged particles decreases “slowly,” by the inverse square law (it falls like 1/r 2 where r is the distance between the two particles). This inverse square law arises because the photon is a massless particle and can easily jump between nearby or distant electric charges. The force of electromagnetism is also somewhat feeble, because the “jumping probability” in quantum theory involves a small number, essentially the (square of the) electric charge (see the Appendix). This gives rise to the electric force that binds electrons to the positively charged protons in the nucleus.
    On the other hand, an atomic nucleus is very small, a typical radius of about 0.0000000000001 centimeters (10 -13 cm), about one hundred thousand times smaller than the electronic orbits that define the chemical size of the atom. This arises in part because of the much larger masses of protons and neutrons than electrons, but also by the strength of the strong force that overcomes the electric repulsion between protons. Furthermore, the nucleus is quite compact, requiring that the particle of the strong force need not produce a long-range or inverse square law force (which wouldhave been detected outside the nucleus), but rather it is a short-range force. Yukawa realized that this required a new particle that could hop back and forth between protons and neutrons, causing the strong force, and the new particle would need to have a mass of about 100,000,000 eV (100 million eV, or 100 MeV; see note 4 ) to account for the short range of the new force.

    Figure 2.2. Forces Arise as the “Exchange of Particles.” The force between two particles arises from the “exchange of particles.” Two electrons, or any electrically charged particles, interact by exchanging photons, which are the particles of light. A proton and neutron strongly interact by exchanging pions.

    This is a tall order, but it certainly pointed the particle searchers in the right direction. And remarkably, in 1936 a particle with a mass of 100 MeV, called the

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