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Weak interaction.

Pauli had suggested that every time a beta particle was emitted by a nucleus, a neutrino (without charge or mass) was also emitted (see 1931).

In 1934 Fermi worked out the theoretical basis on which the two particles were formed. He showed that there was an interaction involved in connection with neutrinos that was like an electromagnetic interaction but much weaker. It therefore came to be called the weak interaction. (It was stronger than the gravitational interaction, however).

The electromagnetic interaction and the gravitational interaction decreased in intensity with the square of the distance. This was a rather slow decrease, so that both interactions could make themselves felt over long distances. (This was particularly true of the gravitational interaction, which was purely attractive, whereas the electromagnetic interaction had attractive and repulsive components that tended to cancel each other.) The weak interaction, however, fell off so rapidly with distance that it was confined entirely to distances the size of an atomic nucleus or less. It might therefore have been called the nuclear interaction were it not that another interaction of small range was soon discovered.

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Author:Asimov, Isaac
Publication:Asimov's Chronology of Science & Discovery, Updated ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Words:184
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