Tag Archives: StrongNuclearForce

Why Do Protons and Neutrons Form Nuclei, and Why Are The Nuclei So Small?

The Structure of Matter series continues: last week’s article on the basics of atomic nuclei is now supplemented with an article discussing the “residual” strong nuclear force which binds protons and neutrons inside of nuclei.  It further explains why nuclei are so small compared to atoms.  Or rather, it explains it in part, because I have to also explain why protons and neutrons themselves are so small — which I will do soon enough.

As always, readers are encouraged to comment on things that don’t seem clear or correct.  And any nuclear physics experts who want to weigh in on my presentation — suggesting how it might be improved or extended, or identifying misconceptions on my part — are encouraged to speak up (publicly or privately as you prefer).

Meanwhile, we’re entering the March conference season, when many new results from the Large Hadron Collider [LHC] (based on analysis of last year’s data) and from other important experiments will start appearing.  Since the LHC’s proton-proton collisions went til December in 2012 (in 2011 they stopped in October) the time for LHC data analysis has been rather short.  I therefore think it likely that any really surprising results from the LHC will be delayed for extra scrutiny — and may not appear until late spring or summer, when there are other conferences.  But I could be wrong!  And one thing we’re all waiting for is the measurement by CMS (one of the two general purpose LHC experiments) of the rate for the recently discovered Higgs particle to decay to two photons.   However, we won’t see that result until CMS is absolutely confident in it.