Baltay, Charles Department of Physics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Show previous versions
- Properties of basic interactions
- Fundamental constituents of matter
- Exchange forces and gauge bosons
- Helicity and parity violation
- Electroweak unification
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A fundamental force representing unification of the electromagnetic and weak nuclear interactions. Until the early 1970s, the four fundamental forces — strong nuclear, electromagnetic, weak nuclear, and gravity — could only be described as distinct entities. The work of U.S. particle physicist Sheldon Lee Glashow, U.S. theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg, and Pakistani theoretical physicist Abdus Salam showed that the electromagnetic and the weak nuclear forces can be unified and understood as a single interaction, called the electroweak interaction. This unification was a major step in understanding nature, similar to the achievement of Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell and others a century earlier in unifying the electric forces and magnetic forces into the electromagnetic interactions. A goal of theoretical physics is to achieve a further simplification in understanding nature by describing the presently known basic interactions in a unified way. Attempts to unify the strong force with the electroweak interaction are usually referred to as grand unified theories (GUTs). Various frameworks that seek to further unify with the fourth fundamental interaction, gravity, are known as M-theory, superstring theory, or a "theory of everything." Physicists broadly theorize that initially, all forces were united in the extreme energy and temperature at the beginning of the universe in the big bang. The forces then separated out as the temperature decreased (Fig. 1). See also: Electromagnetism; Fundamental interactions; Grand unification theories; Gravitation; M-theory; Maxwell's equations; Strong nuclear interactions; Superstring theory; Weak nuclear interactions
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 9000 highly qualified scientists and 43 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8500 articles and Research Reviews covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information