What causes the mass of the two reacting nuclei to convert to energy and if it is for a purpose then why is it released. What is the source for this cause (if there)?


1 Answer 1


Neutrons and protons consist of quarks, and when a neutron and a proton are squeezed tightly enough together, the quarks in each begin to interact and cause them to attract one another. The resulting bound state represents a lower energy configuration that what existed before, which means that when the binding occurs, energy is released, and the bound particles remain stuck together.

This in turn means that every possible bound state of neutrons and protons has a characteristic binding energy associated with it, and the biggest change in energy between the unbound and bound states happens when hydrogen is converted into helium.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you explain why does the "resulting bound state represents a lower energy configuration"? $\endgroup$ Dec 8, 2021 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ Imagine the attractive force between the proton and neutron as a stretched spring, drawing them together so as to allow the stretched spring to relax. in its relaxed state, the spring is in a lower energy state than it was when it was stretched out. $\endgroup$ Dec 8, 2021 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ Wow , thanks but can you also explain if a nucleus is bombarded with a neutron , doesn't the neutron bond with the other protons due to the strong force. If yes , then how does fission work. I know this is out of topic but curiosity is...Anyway , thank you for your pains. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2021 at 6:03
  • $\begingroup$ Kindly answer my question above $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2021 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ fission is a completely different animal. Using the strong force, you can load a nucleus with extra protons and neutrons until the mutual repulsion of all those protons becomes cumulatively strong enough to overwhelm nuclear force and thereby tear the nucleus apart purely by electrostatic forces. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2021 at 20:23

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