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Question
(a) What is the strength of the weak nuclear force relative to the strong nuclear force? (b) What is the strength of the weak nuclear force relative to the electromagnetic force? Since the weak nuclear force acts at only very short distances, such as inside nuclei, where the strong and electromagnetic forces also act, it might seem surprising that we have any knowledge of it at all. We have such knowledge because the weak nuclear force is responsible for beta decay, a type of nuclear decay not explained by other forces.
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Final Answer
  1. $10^{-13}$
  2. $10^{-11}$
Solution Video

OpenStax College Physics Solution, Chapter 4, Problem 52 (Problems & Exercises) (0:47)

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Video Transcript

This is College Physics Answers with Shaun Dychko. Table 4.2 tells us the relative strengths of the four basic forces. The weak force compared to the strong force is 10 to the minus 13 divided by one because all these are actually written as a comparison to the strong nuclear force. The answer is 10 to the minus 13. It is 13 orders of magnitude smaller than the strong nuclear force. The weak force versus the electromagnetic force is 10 to the minus 13 divided by 10 to the minus 2. The weak force is 11 orders of magnitude smaller than the electromagnetic force.