The Nature of Force-carrying Particles
Date: Around 1993
How fast do force carrying particles travel? Are they photons?
Do they have an electromagnetic frequency as do all photons, even if they are
not carrying electromagnetic force?
Some force carrying particles have mass, and therefore they do
not travel at the speed of light. You can tell whether a force carrying
particle has mass or not by how long-ranged the force is. Gravity and
electromagnetism have mass-less force carriers (the graviton - not yet
observed - and the photon) while the strong and weak forces are very short-
ranged, and have very massive force carriers. The force carriers for the weak
force are the W and Z particles (intermediate vector bosons) which were
observed first about 10 years ago. It was originally thought that pions were
one of the fundamental force carriers for the strong force, but the theory of
Quantum Chromo dynamics has force carriers called gluons. These particles all
have energy (analogous to the frequency of photons), and in addition they can
have charge, and color charge for the gluons. One thing they all have in
common is that they are all bosons (that is, they have an integer spin value,
and do not have to obey the Pauli exclusion principle).
Click here to return to the Physics Archives
Update: June 2012