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UNIT 2 CONCEPT

THE FOUR FORCES


WHAT ARE THEY?

There are four fundamental forces in nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the weak force (or weak interaction), and the strong force (or strong interaction). Theoretical physicists and cosmologists believe that each of these arose as a distinct force at different instants in time during the first fraction of a second that the Universe existed. They emerged in the following order: gravity, the strong force, and then electromagnetism and the weak force.
WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

Gravity:  A force that causes objects with mass to attract one another. There is no limit to the range over which gravity can act, so objects and structures separated by unimaginable distances (such as star systems, galaxies, and galaxy clusters) can still influence each other through gravity.

 Gravity is very weak, though, in that its influence can be easily overwhelmed (as, for example, when a tiny magnet prevents another magnet from falling towards Earth).

Electromagnetism:  Much stronger than gravity, electromagnetism can act over any distance and causes objects of opposite charges to attract and objects of the same charge to repel.

 Electromagnetism explains many forces we experience in everyday life, such as lightning and refrigerator magnets.

The weak force (weak interaction):  Acts only at short range and is responsible for the radioactive decay of subatomic particles. The strong force (strong interaction):  More than 100 times stronger than electromagnetism (its responsible for the nuclear fusion that powers stars), the strong force only acts over short ranges.
HOW DO WE KNOW ABOUT THEM?

Physicists have developed powerful theories that explain how the four forces work. Newtons Theory of Universal Gravitation and Einsteins General Theory of Relativity give us a deep understanding of gravity. Observations of gravitational phenomena, both in lab experiments and from space, confirm these theories predictive abilities. General Relativity, for one, explains the bending of light (gravitational lensing) around massive objects, as well as accounting for once-unexplained details of how Mercury orbits the Sun.

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