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This question on the behavior of a universe with massless electrons got me wondering: what would atoms look like if electrons were not merely massless, but rather the lepton fields just didn't exist at all? Without leptons to decay into, the W bosons ought to be stable, and thus provide an alternative charged particle to balance the charge of nuclear protons and produce neutral exotic atoms.

The major difference, of course, is that W bosons are, well, bosons. Ergo, they are not subject to Pauli exclusion, and all of the W bosons in a W-atom should be expected to fall into the same ground state, making the valence structure of different elements considerably more boring. At first glance, this would seem to eliminate any possibility of chemistry at all--except, W-hydrogen isn't actually all that different from regular hydrogen. When you only have one negative charge carrier in the atom, it doesn't matter that "all" of them occupy the same state; ergo, I would intuitively think that dihydrogen as a bound state of two W-hydrogen atoms should still exist.

Similarly, it seems reasonable that, even without the details of real-universe electron structure, it might be the case that sharing W bosons across multiple nuclei can still result in lower energy W boson states than restricting them to a single nucleus, even for arbitrarily larger elements; thus, one might get molecules other than just dihydrogen.

So, is my intuition correct, and some kind of chemistry is possible in the electron-less universe? And if so, how complex can it get? Are we restricted to just diatomic molecules, or can there still be chains, rings, etc?

EDIT: As pointed out in the comments, a W-boson in an electronless universe can still decay into a pion. However, negative pions then lack any further decay path, so should remain stable, with the result that we should probably be considering atoms composed of regular nuclei surrounded and neutralized by a pion cloud, rather than a W boson cloud--but aside from having larger orbitals, the result is still a degenerate boson cloud, so I expect the result for chemistry should be approximately the same.

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  • $\begingroup$ A $W$ boson can decay to a quark and an antiquark. $\endgroup$ – G. Smith Jul 17 '19 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ @G.Smith The resulting pion, however, should be stable against further decay, as it has no way to dump charge into a lower-mass particle, though, shouldn't it? So in the end, we still get a positively-charged nucleus neutralized by a cloud of negative bosons, whether they are pions or W bosons, no? $\endgroup$ – Logan R. Kearsley Jul 17 '19 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that sounds right. Good point! $\endgroup$ – G. Smith Jul 17 '19 at 2:03
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    $\begingroup$ The self-interaction of the negative bosons ought to cause some sort of structure in the 'orbitals' - they'd better be pions, since the W bosons would massively outweigh the proton $\endgroup$ – catalogue_number Jul 17 '19 at 8:31

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