Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: Photons, W, Z bosons, and gluons

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 08/28/2013
I have two questions about gluons, and W and Z bosons. I read that pions are the exchange particles for the gluons (strong force exchange particle), but what are the exchange particles for the W and Z bosons (weak force exchange particles)? Also, are gluons exchanged between the protons and neutrons in the nucleus of a stable atom like, say, an atom in the one of my skin cells, or do the gluons in the atom in my skin cell stay put because that skin cell atom is stable? Because wouldn't gluons being exchanged between the protons and neutrons in the atom nuclei in my skin cells mean there are pions flying around in my body? It's a long question, thank you!
- Travis (age 25)

W and Z bosons, along with the photon form a symmetry group called Electro-Weak.   As such, the Zo can annihilate into two electrons via photon exchange.   It was discovered in the early 80's at LEP the electron positron collider  at CERN in Geneva Switzerland.  In this context you might call the photon as an exchange particle for W,Z interactions. Since the W and Z both have mass there is also an interaction with the Higgs boson.  See gluons, and W and Z bosons at for more information.

As for gluons or pions flying around in your body: yes they do but since they have such short range there is is almost no interactions between your skin or even neighboring atoms.   Their main function is to provide the strong force that keeps nucleii  together.



(published on 08/28/2013)

Follow-up on this answer.