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NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne The Nature of Force-carrying Particles
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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).

Arthur Smith

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