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|strong force |
The fundamental force that mediates interactions between particles with color charge, such as quarks and gluons. The strong force binds quarks together to form baryons such as protons and neutrons, maintains the binding of protons and neutrons together in atomic nuclei, and is responsible for many particle decay processes. Particles that interact through the strong force exchange gluons, much as particles involved in electromagnetic interactions exchange photons. Quark color, but not flavor, is changed by the exchange of gluons. The strong force is stronger than the weak force, the electromagnetic force, and gravity, but has been known to apply only across distances the size of atomic nuclei or smaller. Also called color force, strong interaction, strong nuclear force.