What Is the Strong Force?

Have you ever wondered how the atom is held together? When people sit in chemistry class, a lot of the time they don't notice an inherent issue in the structure of the atom. The nucleus of the atom contains neutrally charged neutrons and positively charged protons. Opposite charges attract and like charges repel - just like with the north and south poles of a magnet. So how is it that the positive protons stick together? Shouldn't they be running away from each other as fast as they can?

Well, they actually should. And the reason they don't is because of the strong nuclear force.

Protons Should Repel Each Other

In physics, there are four fundamental forces: gravity, the electromagnetic force, the weak force, and the strong force.

The strong force is, unsurprisingly, strong. Thestrong force is the force that holds the nucleus of the atom together, even through other forces want to pull it apart. The electrostatic repulsion (part of the electromagnetic force) between the positive protons in the nucleus is very powerful. So the strong force has to be strong to overcome this.

The strong force only works in the nucleus of the atom. This is because it has a very short range. Even the electrons are too far away to be affected by the strong nuclear force.