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Question
A typical carbon nucleus contains 6 neutrons and 6 protons. The 6 protons are all positively charged and in very close proximity, with separations on the order of $10^{-15}$ meters, which should result in an enormous repulsive force. What prevents the nucleus from dismantling itself due to the repulsion of the electric force?
  1. The attractive nature of the strong nuclear force overpowers the electric force.
  2. The weak nuclear force barely offsets the electric force.
  3. Magnetic forces generated by the orbiting electrons create a stable minimum in which the nuclear charged particles reside.
  4. The attractive electric force of the surrounding electrons is equal in all directions and cancels out, leaving no net electric force.
Question by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
Final Answer
(a)
Solution Video

OpenStax College Physics Solution, Chapter 31, Problem 3 (Test Prep for AP® Courses) (0:20)

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Video Transcript

This is College Physics Answers with Shaun Dychko. Nucleons in the nucleus being, you know, protons and neutrons are bound together by the strong nuclear force and the strong nuclear force is of greater magnitude than the repulsive electric force between the protons and so the answer is (a).