Hello! Socratic's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have been updated, which will be automatically effective on October 6, 2018. Please contact hello@socratic.com with any questions.

What is the difference between nuclear force and electrostatic force?

1 Answer
Jan 27, 2016


There are several differences, but they arise out of the gauge bosons that govern each force.


There are four fundamental forces of nature,

  • Strong Nuclear Force
  • Weak Nuclear Force
  • Electromagnetism
  • Gravity

According to the standard model, the first three are governed by gauge bosons. Whenever a particle interacts with these bosons, it experiences the appropriate force. The strong force is governed by gluons, and the weak force by the #W^+#, #W^-# and #Z# bosons.

All of these bosons have a short lifetime, and as such can only interact within the nucleus of an atom. The strong force holds protons and neutrons together within a nucleaus, and the weak force turns protons into neutrons and vice versa.

The electromagnetic force on the other hand is governed by photons. Only charged particles, such as protons and electrons feel the effect of the electromagnetic force. Also, because it is governed by photons, the electromagnetic force has an infinite range, though it rapidly becomes weaker over large distances.