In high school, I learnt that the strong force held the nucleus together. It had a very short range and was repulsive at small separation distances to prevent the nucleons from collapsing.
Now I am doing a course on nuclear physics and I have realised that the strong force acts on quarks too.
Suppose the strong force becomes repulsive at a critical separation $r_c$.Then the first question I thought was this:
The strong force is repulsive between nucleons separated by a distance $r$ with $r<r_c$. I expect that the distance between quarks within a nucleon is smaller than the value of $r_c$. So why does the strong force not result in the quarks repelling and cause a complete disintegration of the nucleon?
And that is my question.