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AstroChuck's avatar

What if the strong nuclear force was twice as strong?

Asked by AstroChuck (37420points) July 10th, 2008 from iPhone

If the strong nuclear force was twice as strong would it be likely that we’d have “cold fusion” by now? Would Uranium and Plutonium be just harmless elements? Would exotic elements such as Lawrencium occur naturally in nature? How would the universe have evolved? Would life be possible or are we looking at just one enormous black hole?

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19 Answers

flameboi's avatar

o.k. astrochuck, this is by far the most exoctic question ever…

Seesul's avatar

Not that we want to see you leave anytime soon, but I hope you plan to donate your brain for study when you no longer need it. Anxiously awaiting the answer to this one…..

gailcalled's avatar

they also serve who only stand and wait.

Seesul's avatar

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
not your average postman

srtlhill's avatar

No. No. No. The same. Life with death.

gailcalled's avatar

If the nuclear force were twice as strong, the postman would have to ring twice.

Zaku's avatar

No. No. No. About the same. Life would be possible.

Playing with the Weak Force strength would be closer to the effects you’re interested in, but even doubling the strength isn’t a hugely universe-reshuffling proposition.

marinelife's avatar

My postman fell in love with Alaska when he went there on a cruise two years ago. He wanted to go there and homestead, but could not get his wife to agree. They compromised, and he is transferring to Idaho within the next year! I guess they are an intrepid breed.

He and I usually only talk about life in the West, though, not quantum mechanics and particle theory.

gailcalled's avatar

And didn’t someone famous say “God doesn’t play dice with the universe”?

Who has postmen? We trek to the local post office but then, we do pick up all the gossip as well as the mail.

AstroChuck's avatar

@gail-That was Einstein, who had trouble accepting quantum theory.
And how did this become a postal discussion?

marinelife's avatar

@AstroChuck Your question made our heads explode, and we all went postal.

gailcalled's avatar

Astro: I knew that.

AstroChuck's avatar

Sorry, Gail. I sometimes have brain farts and don’t think things through, not recognizing humor.

AstroChuck's avatar

@Zaku- I would think that there would be some difference. Wouldn’t there be elements found in nature that now can only be created synthetically? Wouldn’t this alter half-lives and thus make some unstable atoms stable?

Zaku's avatar

It would make some difference, yes, but a factor of 2 isn’t even one order of magnitude, while the difference in force between the strong force and the weak force is thirteen orders of magnitude (10,000,000,000,000 vs. 2) so I expect most things would be the same in general nature (if not in specific details), including all of the other force interactions, which are the ones we mainly experience.

Moreover, it’s the strong force which keeps protons and neutons intact, so your change has implications for things like solar mechanics and fusion (which would require I guess twice as much brute energy to start each fusion, but perhaps also release twice as much energy). My nuclear physics was never very detailed and is very rusty, but I think you want to mess with the weak force strength to get a remix of elements created by planetary formation and other processes.

Er, I guess if your tweak to the strong force resulted in new dynamics when stars go nova, then planets formed of their debris could have different elemental mixes as a result.

My knowledge of current theories isn’t very strong or up-to-date… but I think everyone’s conjecturing at this point anyway.

AstroChuck's avatar

Zaku- I don’t see why it would take more brute force to create fusion, it should take less. Did you mean fission, perhaps? That would be a bit harder, I would think.
Maybe I haven’t raised the bar enough with making the strong nuclear force strength two-fold. I don’t want to destroy the universe, just want to make it easier to get clean fusion and create some fun new metals.

Knotmyday's avatar

I have a feeling it would mean that the sub-atomic particles would be twice as close to each other, and everything would be much smaller.
The postman could fit more letters in his bag.

edit: the bag would be smaller too, dang it. Logic, anyone?

Please don’t dismantle the machine…

Seesul's avatar

You know, Chuck, the saying: “we bow before your giant brain” on the question page when it is empty, HAD to have been written about you. My own mind has expanded ten-fold just by reading the answers to your questions. Thanks!

Zaku's avatar

@AstroChuck: I was thinking the Strong Force needed to be overcome for fusion, but I just did a little research and see that I was incorrect (and that the terminology and models have changed quite a bit since I last studied these things with any seriousness, quite a few years ago).
So since it’s the electromagnetic force which needs to be overcome, and something called the residual strong force (my reading is the Strong force actually switches direction based on distance), which let’s assume scales with the Strong Force, so in effect yes, I think you may be right there that tweaking it could make fusion and heavy-element production easier… or totally mess things up, depending on what setting you choose for your Strong Force Tweakerizer device.

From Wiki :
“Basic properties of the nuclear force

* The nuclear force is only felt among hadrons.
* At much smaller separations between nucleons the force is very powerfully repulsive, which keeps the nucleons at a certain average separation.
* Beyond about 1.7 fm separation, the force drops to negligibly small values.
* At short distances, the nuclear force is stronger than the Coulomb force; it can overcome the Coulomb repulsion of protons inside the nucleus. However, the Coulomb force between protons has a much larger range and becomes the only significant force between protons when their separation exceeds about 2.5 fm.
* The NN force is nearly independent of whether the nucleons are neutrons or protons. This property is called charge independence.
* The NN force depends on whether the spins of the nucleons are parallel or antiparallel.
* The NN force has a noncentral or tensor component. This part of the force does not conserve orbital angular momentum, which is a constant of motion under central forces.

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