We always hear of 4 Forces or interactions, i.e. the Strong Force, Electromagnetic Force, Weak Force and Gravity. Each force has its mediating Bosons, i.e. gluons for Strong Force, photons for Electromagnetic Force, and theorized gravitons for Gravity. However, only the so called Weak Force has 2 types of bosons, i.e. the W (+ or -) bosons and the Z boson.
Moreover, the type of interactions mediated by the W and Z bosons are quite different, some of which differences are:
- W bosons mediate flavour changing decays, from one type of fundamental particle to another. In fact this is the only interaction that can modify a fundamental particle (not sure the particles are so fundamental, but that's another question). However, Z bosons mediate elastic scattering between neutrinos and other fundamental particles such as electrons (not sure if they also mediate elastic scattering between other fundamental particles, e.g. an electron and another electron or an electron and a quark, but there would be other forces between such particles, which would perhaps drown out Z boson mediated elastic scattering, if any).
W bosons interactions violate parity conservation, while Z boson interactions don't violate parity conservation.
W bosons interact only with left handed leptons or quarks or right handed anti-particles, while Z bosons can interact with right handed leptons and quarks, and with left handed anti-particles, since right handed particles also carry Weak Charge (see Wikipedia link above).
Even otherwise each force carrying boson has its own unique interaction, with the newly discovered Higgs Boson also being responsible for the mass generating interactions (which interactions also mix together the left and right handed particles). Therefore, why do interactions mediated by the W bosons and Z boson share the same name?
I have read some articles on electroweak symmetry breaking and realise that the photon, W bosons and the Z boson are mixtures of the original four massless bosons prior to symmetry breaking, and that these forces unite at higher energies. I also realise that the Electric Charge, Weak Charge and Weak Isospin are some formulaic mixtures of each other and of the Weak Hypercharge.
However, that really doesn't explain why the W bosons and Z boson interaction are called out together, when in the real world they are quite different, at least as different as the photon and Z boson interactions (Why are the Z boson and photon different?).
The only reasons I was able to come up with, for the same name, is history and convenience? The Weak interaction as it was originally discovered and studied was apparently through Beta decays. Therefore, it was initially thought to be only a single type of an interaction i.e. the interaction, which is now known to be mediated by W bosons (W bosons were unknown at that time). Subsequent formulation of the electroweak theory by Sheldon Glashow, Abdus Salam and Steven Weinberg, led to prediction of the W bosons and Z boson, and search for the Z boson mediated elastic scattering and neutral currents, which were subsequently discovered experimentally (in a huge success for the Standard Model). However, despite the two Weak interactions being different in the real world, no new name was thought of for the Z boson interaction and it was also clubbed with the Weak Force, since it was also a short distance interaction mediated by a heavy boson, just like the already known Weak interaction.
Sorry for a long question, but I wanted to make clear that I am not looking for mathematics on how electroweak interactions are related, which fact I am implicitly accepting. I am only asking that if the Electromagnetic and W bosons interactions are named separately, why not the W bosons and Z boson interactions?