In the same way as there are electromagnetic and gravitational waves that update the information on their respective field, is there an analogue for the weak and strong forces?


No, there are no weak or strong waves in the sense as there are for electromagnetic or gravitational waves.

The electromagnetic and gravitational waves are classical objects, they are possible vacuum solutions to the classical equation of motion for the field strength of the respective force, and can be radiated by objects charged under the respective force. But the weak and the strong force have no analogous classical limits - the weak force is suppressed by a factor $\mathrm{e}^{-\mu r}$ due to the mass of the W- and Z-bosons and thus very different from the EM or gravitational force, and it doesn't make sense to speak of a classical limit of the strong force because gluons and quarks are confined - there are no net charges under the strong force on a classical level, hence the strong force just vanished from our description.

In other words, the weak and the strong force are, in some sense, "fully quantum" in that their importance to our world comes completely from their quantized description, and a classical description does not make sense for them, thus we cannot speak of a classical concept such as a wave for the weak and strong forces.

  • $\begingroup$ So are waves a classical phenomenon? How can we get waves from QED? $\endgroup$ – SuperCiocia Dec 11 '15 at 0:10
  • $\begingroup$ @SuperCiocia: You don't get "waves from QED". If you're asking how QED explains the classical electromagnetic wave,s the answer is boring: QED has the classical electromagnetic force obeying Maxwell's equations as its classical limit, and there you then get the waves. The quantum field theory knows nothing of these waves. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Dec 11 '15 at 0:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I understand this is how, mathematically, you get waves out of QED. What about the physical meaning though? Is there nothing radiated from charged particles in QED? $\endgroup$ – SuperCiocia Dec 11 '15 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ @SuperCiocia: There is something able to be "radiated" from charged particles in QED. It's called a photon. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Dec 11 '15 at 1:03

In QM most stuff boils down to particles.

For example, electromagnetism is mediated by photons and EM radiation is literally just beams of photons.

We should then have a couple of obvious candidates for strange and new kinds of radiation.

The strong force is mediated by gluons and there are 8 types of gluons. At a larger scale (like with atomic nuclei) the force kind of becomes washed out and what's left is mostly the exchange of virtual pions (which are quark antiquark pairs) to stabilize nuclei. So, while gluon radiation isn't really plausible under typical conditions pion radiation is more likely. I should also mention the hypothetical possibility of glueballs which are composite particles of gluons.

Likewise, weak force radiation would be W and Z bosons. However, I don't know if it is possible to have radiation composed of W and Z bosons in the same way that it is for photons. For one the W and Z bosons have masses. For another, the weak force is kind of weak.

In principle one could make a laser beam out of any boson. I have just gone over the gauge bosons which are the most obvious answers. However, you don't even really need what we typically think of as bosons to obtain wave effects. For example, one can make a sound wave pass through air. Similarly, one can have effects in electrical conductors where electrons like air or water particles and carry waves through them. As well, the possibility of gravity waves exist. Consider also the common case of an electrical transformer where there are two coils of wire that intersect but do not electrically touch each other and yet they can transfer electrical signals through each other through magnetic waves (this is technically just a subcase of EM radiation but is still interesting IMO.)


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.