Electroweak interaction

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In particle physics, the electroweak interaction is the unified description of two of the four known fundamental interactions of nature: electromagnetism and the weak interaction. Although these two forces appear very different at everyday low energies, the theory models them as two different aspects of the same force. Above the unification energy, on the order of 100 GeV, they would merge into a single electroweak force. Thus if the universe is hot enough (approximately 1015 K, a temperature exceeded until shortly after the Big Bang) then the electromagnetic force and weak force will merge into a combined electroweak force.

For contributions to the unification of the weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, Abdus Salam, Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979.[1][2] The existence of the electroweak interactions was experimentally established in two stages: the first being the discovery of neutral currents in neutrino scattering by the Gargamelle collaboration in 1973, and the second in 1983 by the UA1 and the UA2 collaborations that involved the discovery of the W and Z gauge bosons in proton-antiproton collisions at the converted Super Proton Synchrotron.

Contents

Formulation

Mathematically, the unification is accomplished under an SU(2) × U(1) gauge group. The corresponding gauge bosons are the three W bosons of weak isospin (W+
, W0
, and W
), and the B0 boson of weak hypercharge, respectively, all of which are massless.

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