Question

Which of the following forces is (most) crucial for holding a nucleus together?

(a) electric force

(b) magnetic force

(c) the strong force

(d) friction

(e) gravity

Solution

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The answer that should be rounded off is (c)thestrongforce.\bf{(c)\hspace{0.1cm}the\hspace{0.1cm}strong\hspace{0.1cm}force.}

A strong nuclear force plays the most important role in holding the nucleus together. As the nucleus is composed of nucleons, i.e. of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons, a repulsive electric force acts between positively charged protons,in order for the nucleus to hold together, an attractive force must act that is stronger than the repulsive electric force, which is an attractive strong nuclear force that acts between the nucleons, acts between a proton pair, a neutron pair, and between a proton and a neutron. A strong nuclear force is short-range and is significant only up to the distance r1015 mr\approx10^{-15}\text{ m} between the nucleons.

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