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A question or two on bosons

  1. Jul 3, 2013 #1
    Another probably very retarded question im affraid.Ive only recently been studying all this of my own back so please bare with me. Firstly as i understand it a Photon carries electromagnatism Z and W Bosons carry the strong and weak nuclear forces and the Higgs boson is the missing gravity carrier then what exactly does the Gluon do???? Does it have something to do with the nuclear forces? My next question is how does a boson exactly act? To be honest im a little confused.....does it has any sort of mass, does it sort of attach itself to other particles??? This maybe a bit of a stupid question i understand just need some guidence please.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2013 #2
    The photon, Z, and the two W bosons carry the Electroweak charge, of these the photon is massless. The others have mass as the Weak force is range limited. The Gluon carries the Strong force that hold things like Protons and Neutrons together. The Higgs field via the Higgs boson gives some particles their mass (like the Z and W above) but does not carry the Gravitational force. Gravitation is not included in the Standard Model which governs these three forces.
  4. Jul 5, 2013 #3
    Cosmik debris is right: the gluon mediates the strong force while the W and Z bosons carry the weak force (and photons carry the EM force). The Higgs boson is involved in a process that sets a mass for certain particles, but it does not mediate the gravitational force--if the gravitational force were like the other forces, it would be mediated by something called a "graviton".

    Bosons are quite varied. The most familiar one is the photon, which hopefully you have a feel for. It is massless and therefore travels relativistically (i.e. at c), and it does not interact (directly) with other photons, but couples with electromagnetic charges. Thus we observe the typical behavior of photons: they are readily generated in the processes of electrically charged particles and fly at light speed, typically unhindered, until they come into contact with some more electrically charged particles.

    Compare this with another boson, the graviton: it has a mass so it travels nonrelativistically (i.e. below c), and it couples to the color charge. Unlike the photon, the gluon actually carries its own color charge (a photon has zero electrical charge), so unlike photons, gluons can interact directly with other gluons. This leads to a phenomenon where pulling apart two gluons creates more and more gluons, and can even create quark-antiquark pairs (these processes can be interpreted in terms of "gluon bundles" or "quark-gluon plasmas"), and so the force gets stronger and stronger the more you try to separate two gluons (see "asymptotic freedom"), unlike any electromagnetic interaction.

    Just from the stark differences between photons and gluons, you can begin to see that bosons can have all different kinds of properties.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2013
  5. Jul 8, 2013 #4
    Oops! I made a really stupid typo in the last post. In the third paragraph, I should have said
    I hope that's clear from the rest of the paragraph. Gotta get my g's straight.
  6. Jul 8, 2013 #5


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    Actually the gluon is massless.
  7. Jul 8, 2013 #6
    You are right. I seriously screwed that post up, sorry.
  8. Jul 8, 2013 #7
    But you got the important part right. The gluon carries colour charge and therefore couples to its self.

    To me the most important part. As this is why it is "strong" and defines how its behaviour changes with energy in a completely different way to the photon.
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