MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Only One Fundamental Force?

Date: Mon Mar 21 07:18:19 2005
Posted By: Andy Goddard, Staff, Teaching and Learning Resources, Strathclyde University
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1109290919.Ph

This is a tough question. Two of the forces (the weak and strong nuclear
forces) have limited ranges, so it's possible to imagine a distance at
which they don't have an effect. However, the other two forces
(electromagnetism and gravity) both utilise exchange particles of no mass
and therefore both these forces have infinite range. It's therefore
difficult to imagine any realistic situation in which one of these forces
can act without the other also being present.

That said, perhaps there is a cheat! As energies increase, towards values
such as those found in the earliest moments of the universe, the
fundamental forces become steadily unified. We could therefore imagine a
moment, within the Planck Time of the start of the Big Bang (<10^-43
seconds), when there was only one fundamental force.


Andy Goddard

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