My definition/understanding of a force still carries largely over from classical physics which is something that tends to change the motion of an object (a push, pull). Gravity and electromagnetism meet this definition very well because gravity is pulling things and electromagnetism is also pushing/pulling things.

Even the strong force is pulling things (pulling the quarks in protons together). But this line of logic falls short for the weak force. What is the weak force pulling/pushing? All I have heard about the Weak Force is that is facilitates the transmutation of a down quark to an up quark. However, this seems more like a process/effect not a force as it is simply changing the quark but not pushing it.

So, could someone please explain why we call it the weak force? In what way is it a 'force' (do we need to redefine force?)?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A vision of a weak force ejecting an electron-antineutrino pair it just created inside the neutron turning it into a proton won't do? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 14:05
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Does the weak force have an attractive/repulsive force observable in everyday life like the other forces? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ Do not forget that force=dp/dt. All decays involve this . quarks too hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Particles/qrkdec.html $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ @CosmasZachos ohhh I guess, as in the force is repelling the electron and antineutrino? Is that a good way to think of the force or rather as something that changes quarks? $\endgroup$
    – john hon
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 9:47
  • $\begingroup$ Both, not "or rather"... the same feature mutates species and exploits rolldown across an energy gradient. The interaction lowers the energy. However, the energy gradient is also contributed to by the strong interactions, as well. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


The weak force is still a force because it is pushing and pulling particles and deflecting them. The main difference is on top of that the weak force also changes particles flavors. When a neutrino and an electron interact they exchange W- boson. The neutrino and electron swap flavors and get deflected. It is pushing and pulling particles. It just feels like it is not doing that because the main idea of the weak force is to change flavor's of particles.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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