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Why is the Weak Force weak?

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The subatomic world is governed by three known forces, each with vastly different energy.  In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln takes on the weak nuclear force and shows why it is so much weaker than the other known forces. Related videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk1cOffTgdk
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Text Comments (519)
Pincho Paxton (1 day ago)
Annoying video, because all of the physics are wrong.
Shyhalu (9 days ago)
5:55 Its not mind blowing when you visualize Higgs Bosons interacting with it.
Jo Moiras (11 days ago)
Dr Lincoln, how can the top-bottom quark interaction happen so fast there is no interaction with the electromagnetic force?
Nodge X (21 days ago)
So the weak force is actually very strong, and gravity is much, much weaker than the weak force. Okaay.
Nafiur Pial (21 days ago)
Too awesome!! (both you & particle physics)
Yora (27 days ago)
Wow, I think I actually understood this. And I think I also now understand a lot more about uncertainty. Still don't understand why the weak force is a force, though. Nothing seems to be attracted or repelled.
Albert Torres (30 days ago)
What's clear is the weak force can become the strongest force. Like how strong is weak force in a black hole? When it can rip matter apart and cause light to exceed light speed. The actual force for magnetism and gravity is inertial.
Tom Jerry (1 month ago)
There are still no theory that could combine these forces together.
mamba701 (1 month ago)
also, would it be possible for stars to form just out of quarks and other subatomic particles (like a neutron star)?
mamba701 (1 month ago)
pardon my ignorance, but what effects does a photon have on anything if it doesnt carry a charge? how does light affect the electromagnetic force? im not a scientist, just an enthusiast so again, pardon my ignorance and thank you for the video
Frank Harr (1 month ago)
Interesting. I had no idea it worked like that.
Özgür KIRDI (1 month ago)
Is the half-life of an isotope derived from that probability of producing a W boson with the right energy? If less likely, longer half-life and more likely shorter?
What does doing very sophisticated very petroleumize smelly feet gmo to each other look like?
Sarcast (1 month ago)
I keep watching these videos on topics I understand, and the more I watch, the more I understand nothing anymore :/
Alin Ababei (1 month ago)
Confusing and poorly explained
Jacob Klein (1 month ago)
I asked the same question of the new Star Wars movies...
anamika dhawan (1 month ago)
I had a doubt from Einsteins equation m=mo/sqrt of 1-v*v/c*c if something travels at the speed of light it mass becomes infinite but photons is massless
MrBonners (1 month ago)
A Neutron decays to a positive and negative particle. Why/What triggers the neutral Neutron to split?
Jacob Zondag (2 months ago)
10:08 I don't mind my mind being blown, but the beard? That's a bridge too far to me.
Helene L (2 months ago)
I wonder what the range of GeV is when the minds of all of the non-physicists (like me) watching this video are blown.
Richard Rogow (3 months ago)
Please note that the mass of the e- is about >500Kev then how can the required mass of the W boson be 156,000 ev (156 Kev) in the decay W ==> e- + anti-neutrino ?. (as seen in 7:34/10:32 of the video)
Arunoday Dey (3 months ago)
Excellent excellent excellent !!!!
Edu SANTANA PRODUÇÕES (4 months ago)
Why is the weak force weak??? because if it was strong we called it "Strong Force" lol
Michael (5 months ago)
Well that was highly educational. Thank you.
James Applegate (5 months ago)
Why is it we can send a signal million's of miles always with a slight pause?  And we are still using AMPS. to get cable across town?  Why do we need so many cell towers if there are so many satellites in space?
ragtop63 (5 months ago)
Why multiply? Why not add? How do you know which operation to use?
Reid Cruickshank (5 months ago)
Subscribed, then unsubscribed seconds later, after seeing such 'Offerings' on social justice/science overlap, etc. Maybe other channels can focus on *SCIENCE!*.
Trenzinho da Alegria (5 months ago)
My mind was already blown when I learned last week that even protons decay, now even quarks also decay wtf?
Archontasius (6 months ago)
5:33 is that how photoelectric effects happened?
Ronie Trump (6 months ago)
My brain is going to explode
Rm Tripathi (6 months ago)
Very well presented in what is difficult to comprehend in one go would like to go through again again to consolidate understanding
Keith Trevor (6 months ago)
You are amazing! do not ever stop.
Alexander Krizel (6 months ago)
I know it's probably been asked a million times, so I apologize for the redundancy, but if a photon has energy, how can it be massless?
The Guy (6 months ago)
Because it can (actually must) have kinetic energy. But dont make the mistake and use the formula T=1/2 m v^2 from Newtonian mechanics to calculate the kinetic energy, as this of course would yield zero for the massles case m = 0. You have to use the relativistic equation which also works for m=0.
John Kochen (6 months ago)
Why incoming1 TIMES incoming2 TIMES etc? Are you multiplying masses? Ev? Why not addition? At this point and in this form the equation makes no sense to me.
The Guy (6 months ago)
Each part of the diagramm essentially represents the propability for the depicted process to happen. So the lines represent the propability for free propagation of the particle, a vertex stands for the propability for the interaction and so on. The propability for the whole diagram is then the product of the individual propabilities. If you want to convince yourself that this is true take a coin and flip it once. The propability for heads is 1/2. Flip it twice, and the propability for two times heads is 1/2*1/2 = 1/4.
Jim Redgewell (7 months ago)
good video
gaetano di giorgio (7 months ago)
Because God make a correct architecture of the reality
t. rex (7 months ago)
May i ask at 9:16 where did the rest of the top quark mass go? is it invested in the hadronization ?
The Guy (6 months ago)
It is converted into kinetic energy of the decay products (the bottom quark and W boson).
SuperJohnnyuk (7 months ago)
Dear Don, thanks for another insightful video. As a humble clinician, I truly enjoy watching your videos during the graveyard shifts
Russ G (7 months ago)
Umm,.because the Weak Force didn't eat its Wheaties?
dbright (7 months ago)
R.i.p z boson. Cause of death .. being studied.
Tarok nath (7 months ago)
Wouldn't it will be more appropriate to call them rare forces, instead of weak forces?
Sudip Mandal (7 months ago)
Juan Pablo Mina (7 months ago)
Right, so if I understood correctly, the weak force is called _weak_ because it's not as strong as the strong or the electromagnetic force at proton range. And that's because it's very rare that the decay happens. So, if it happened more frequently, it would be stronger?
Juan Pablo Mina (7 months ago)
Just to be clear, the weak force is called that because it's weaker than all other forces at proton range, right?
Jonathan Dick (8 months ago)
I would LOVE to see a video on the electroweak force. I've tried to watch some lectures on it, but it's a bit over my head, and your channel does a great job of explaining complex topics.
Steven Schiff (8 months ago)
I wish you'd stop flailing your hands around when you talk. It's very distracting.
Hariprasad JB (9 months ago)
yes,,, can u make an another video of this same thing with someother anology,, please,, just a 2min simple video, if u can,, becos i am not clear with this concept, Mr.Don
ismail barodiawala (9 months ago)
great very usefull
Karan Rawat (9 months ago)
you are best explainer Dr. Lincoln Please make more video
n.steam (10 months ago)
So, I understand the concept of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, for momentum and position. I can't quite grasp it for time and energy. Delta-t being a span of time, but what would be the start-end points?
Tokaji Leo (10 months ago)
so the W- particle is nt as negative as the electron? what is the difference and the reason behind it?
JAMES! Since the 70's (10 months ago)
does the top quark always have to be on top?
Thomas Doyle (10 months ago)
I was going to watch your video, and I saw a doughnut. I was weak and was forced to eat it. The mass of the doughnut was transferred to my self and is now undergoing decay. I love physics and coffee.
don't eat a banana or you'll turn right-brain dominant and left-handed.
theRealPlaidRabbit (10 months ago)
When you talk about describing a Feynmann diagram as an equation, I'm with you.  Then you put up "EQUATION = (stuff...)" Then suddenly I have lost all confidence in your video.  Now you have a graph of the mass distribution of the Z boson, and from context I gather the horizontal axis is mass in GeV.  OK.  What do those numbers on the left represent?  Probability?  No, because then the mass of a Z is 91 GeV with probability 1 (meaning all other possible masses have probability 0!).  But then what? This is my complaint, and I think the late Dr. Feynmann would make the same one:  when you use numbers or "equations" in a way that prevents them from having any clear meaning, you're basically sending the underlying message that math is hocus-pocus, that you're just putting numbers up and we're supposed to believe you just because we saw numbers on a screen.
TinyFoxTom (10 months ago)
2:25 Those Feynman diagrams are so inaccurate, it hurts.
Raphael Santore (10 months ago)
Thank you. raphael santore
Etheoma (10 months ago)
So why is the weak force called the weak force because gravity is the weakest force, so much so that it is irrelevant in all but the most edge of edge cases when looking at the subatomic scale god gravity is even irrelevant on the molecular scale and a bit up from there as well even to very small bugs gravity is irrelevant and surface tension is the biggest factor, and surface tension is just the manifestation of the electromagnetic force playing out on the macro / micro scale
ZorkFox (10 months ago)
I'm just a layman here, so this might be silly (though not bleeping silly, I hope!) but if the creation of the low-energy W particle is so rare, does it follow that its occurrence is random? That is, are there decay events happening all the time, shooting off normal-energy W particles and every once in a while it just happens to throw off a low-energy one?
ScienceNinjaDude (10 months ago)
Sort of.  It is definitely random.  But it isn't as if it is shooting off W particles willy-nilly.  They have to conserve energy and momentum, after all.
Robert Hofmann (10 months ago)
The weak force is not weak.
JAMES! Since the 70's (10 months ago)
I have a dumb question. can red ,blue and green laser beams be combined in to a white laser beam? since white light has red blue and green in it. or would it not be laser light anymore? I never got into this in school. I have been wanting to experiment with laser light. but haven't the time. or the lasers.
JAMES! Since the 70's (10 months ago)
ScienceNinjaDude thanks but I'd still like to see what it would look like. I didn't think it would make a white laser. that's why I ask. thanks
ScienceNinjaDude (10 months ago)
red, blue, and green will make white.  But it won't be a laser as the crux of a laser is that the light oscillates together.  But there will be three different oscillations, so no laser.
Morbus (10 months ago)
It's weak because it gets beat up by the strong force.
ScienceNinjaDude (10 months ago)
For it's lunch money!
weskal (10 months ago)
A very interesting and audience friendly explanation. I am glad I found this channel
Maciej Kadłubowski (10 months ago)
Isn't time the vertical axis on Feynman diagrams? On the video it seemed to be the horizontal one...
ScienceNinjaDude (10 months ago)
Can be arbitrary.
Chris Brown (10 months ago)
However free neutron decay is not rare at all. They have a half life of about 10 minutes. If they were rare than free neutrons should be stable? Neither are radioactive isotopes that exhibit the same decay. The only thing that makes sense is there is a fundamental difference in magnitude between what 'we' are thinking as rare or neutron decay is different free than from the nucleus.
Kj16V (10 months ago)
The weak force is weak because it doesn't even lift
CogitoErgoCogitoSum (10 months ago)
@Fermilab Im more interested in knowing why weaker forces have greater ranges than stronger forces.
ScienceNinjaDude (10 months ago)
They don't.  The weak force has the shortest range (gravity aside).
Robert Tate (10 months ago)
But with only Z and W Bozons ( I believe that is the one with the charge, yes?), in conjunction with the single electron hypothesis, might explain why we only see matter, and not anti matter. For this would seem to indicate that antimatter, moving backward through time, is not subject to gravity in the same way matter is. Only when we stop anti matter in its mad dash backward through time, does it become subject to gravity, and then only for a limited amount of time (we have captured anti particles for as long as 17 minutes currently). If anti matter is not subject to gravity in its native state then it is unlikely that the particles would congeal into larger, gravity affected structures. This then can be used to describe Dark matter/engery, as with the photon described above, which will have mass intermittently during certain circumstances. This description, when applied to anti matter out in open space, may indicate a transient interaction with a con current positive/negative time flow and thus an intermittent gravitational field. The anti matter would then interact weakly with both space and time in the forward temporal aspect, as well as implying gravitation in concert with its vibrational characteristics. It would be difficult to observe, because technically it is still in its native form and moving in a temporally inverted state, but would still have significant physical affects on the universe at large. Since we know that anti matter reacts to photons in similar fashion to matter, then we can surmise that high energy photons moving through the void supply the necessary energy for the interaction. Hmm. Shine intense enough light on antimatter and it will gravitate? Very interesting hypothesis. To bad I can't test it.
Craig Flowers (10 months ago)
Actually the four forces are all one dynam . . . oh hey look, it's the theory of everything! https://www.facebook.com/superrelativity/
Wandering Watcher (10 months ago)
I ... understood ... something! ... I think?
Shockwave Shockwave (11 months ago)
What are electron-volts and why does the boson have like billions of them?
Shockwave Shockwave (11 months ago)
Simple answer: because it doesn't lift bruh
animowany111 (11 months ago)
Hi, I have a question. In this video, you're describing particle mass with units of energy [eV], in hindsight it's slightly obvious, due to Einstein's mass equation, so why doesn't the SI system define the kilogram in terms of energy, or vice versa?Does it have to do with the "hidden" (usually skipped) momentum term in Einstein's equation?Thanks
ScienceNinjaDude (10 months ago)
It's purely a convenience thing.  Technically, the mass unit is eV/c^2, but scientists drop the c^2, as it is implied.  And particle physicists operate in a system in which c = 1 (e.g. all speeds are just listed as fractions of the speed of light).  That also helps.
Plystire (11 months ago)
Probability of energy levels aside and keeping in mind conservation of energy... where did the energy that should have made up the W boson go? Is it being internally transferred to other quarks/subatomic particles? In short, what internal circumstances could cause a neutron's W boson to lose so much energy and force it out, thus changing the neutron's structure to that of a proton?
DrCrowie (11 months ago)
BILLION electron volts!!! or GeV perhaps?
Volbla (11 months ago)
This was neato.
Simon Ruszczak (11 months ago)
No "particles", it's all waves (data) on the aether.
TheConspiracy Realist (11 months ago)
Here's what they learned from CERN that they can share with the masses. i
Brenden (11 months ago)
you know when the production value goes down sharply it's inversely tied to the amount of information!!
Drake Tungsten (11 months ago)
Wait, what? Photons can have mass?
ScienceNinjaDude (10 months ago)
Yes.  But only for a very brief amount of time.
Josh McGillivray (11 months ago)
Since there appears to be a continuous range of mass the Z boson can have, does that mean the Z boson is not quantized like a photon is? Are there interactions in which any quantized particle can be temporarily unquantized? Also is he basically just saying that the weak force is weak for a similar reason to why low pressure exerts a 'weak' force (as in particles in a chamber interact with the chamber walls less often and thus exert less average force when compared to a more pressurized chamber)?
ajr993 (11 months ago)
You guys should stick to science and far away from comedy. Your first jokes were terrible.
ScienceNinjaDude (10 months ago)
Are you kidding?  Lincoln's mom >>loves<< his jokes!
1503nemanja (11 months ago)
Now I am more confused than before. I thought that fundamental particles were called that because they are the building blocks of reality and all of them are the same. So how can they have varying mass? Is that extra mass actually different speed?
ScienceNinjaDude (10 months ago)
The varying mass is a consequence of these fundamental particles having both a wave and particle nature.
A H. Barry (11 months ago)
It's totally bleeping awesome 0:23 😀
so the "weak force" is not weak, but just a "high mass high energy barrier" action which is accordingly seldom in less high energy or less high mass actions...
Lauty Bend (11 months ago)
thank god for the comment sections in these vids... amirite? talk about putting a comment section to work. no room for trolling
Huawei Wang (11 months ago)
so, weak doesn't mean that it pulls less hard than the strong forces, but instead it happens rather rarely?
davidsirmons (11 months ago)
Okay, the explanation is very simple. Here's why.......it skips leg day.
Evi1M4chine (11 months ago)
Isn’t the Z boson just neutral W boson? Why act like it’s a different particle? W⁺, W⁰, W⁻. Duh.
jack mack (11 months ago)
I would have thought it is very strong but only acts at a very small distance (by our macro-scale)
Riley Starr (11 months ago)
You lost me at "bleeping"
Michael Beattie (11 months ago)
In the situation where the neutron decays into a proton by emitting a W boson, it happens with an extremely unlikely energy. What happens when there's a W boson with a more "normal" amount of energy? And wouldn't this be more common?
Kevin Slater (11 months ago)
I understood the word 'The'
Vote With Bullets (10 months ago)
I've never understood the word "the."  Please, explain it to me.   "The" is not a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, a pronoun, a preposition, a conjunction, or an interjection.  What *is* the word, "The?"
Dave B (11 months ago)
Its weak because its not strong. We can't have a weak force without a strong force. Simple.
Roope Havu (11 months ago)
Hmm, seeing those probability distributions for the masses of Z and W bosons made me think they should (as this is physics :-) ) be perfectly symmetrical, but then we would have to very rarely observe something that could be considered a boson with a negative mass, and I don't think that happens...?
David Wilkie (29 days ago)
Yep, like the story, but the plot is always confusing. Maybe another couple of years of watching. _____ The shortest answer to why the Weak Force is weak depends on the context or sub context of the question. If it's a Universal state of fitting the phase-states into the eternal continuity of Time, then WYSIWYG for the apparently Anthropic Principle of bio-requirements that would seem to be learned or evolved in the conditions of Planet Earth. (That's a "How many Turtles down?", type of indirect/perception answer) Or a Mathematical Physics answer would require the detailing of constants, of primes and cofactor compounds, (actuality of Quantum Chemistry), multiples of e-Pi-i=> QM-TIME, Universal Quantum-operation, => logical mathematical-mechanism formula of inclusion and exclusion connection, ->phase-state integration of pulse duration phenomena.
David Davies (11 months ago)
(incoming particle 1) X (incoming particle 2) why ? , why not (incoming particle 1) + (incoming particle 2)
TurboCMinusMinus (11 months ago)
Really not explained or supported well. Just a bunch of stuff thrown at the viewer that we're supposed to accept. 1.) Why would all 7 parts of a Feynman diagram form an equation which multiplies all 7? 2.) What evidence justifies the claim that all fields require a force-carrier and where's a depiction of how this happens? 3.) Were you TRYING to imply that observed frequency of long half-life isotope decay (such as C-14 decay) is governed by the probability of W bosons existing in very unlikely energy states? How would you discount opposing theories? 4.) All of our measured particle interactions occur on or near Earth, orbiting the sun which is supposedly emitting so many neutrinos that 65 billion pass through every square centimeter on Earth, every second. That's a lot of neutrinos. To me, this fact is a huge problem when trying to prove the cause of nuclear processes, especially ones that may have interactions with neutrinos. How do you know that "rare" neutrino impacts don't influence isotope decay?
Ken Heart (11 months ago)
I think my brain just melted
David Stagg (11 months ago)
Wait, it sounds like you are saying that weak events and rare events are the same thing.
ScienceNinjaDude (10 months ago)
They can be.

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