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Universes with no weak force might still have stars and life

An alternate cosmos could do without one of the fundamental forces, physicists say

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7:00am, January 30, 2018
illustration of alternate universes

MANY WORLDS  Alternate universes with different laws of physics could still host galaxies, stars and planets, a new study suggests.  

Not all fundamental forces are created equal. An alternate universe that lacks the weak nuclear force — one of the four fundamental forces that govern all matter in our universe — could still form galaxies, stars, planets and perhaps life, according to calculations published online January 18 at arXiv.org.

Scientists have long thought that our universe wouldn’t exist, or at least wouldn’t support life, without certain physical laws. For instance, if gravity were much stronger than it is, most matter would collapse into black holes; if it were weaker, the universe wouldn’t form structures such as galaxies or planets. The strong nuclear force holds atomic nuclei together, and the electromagnetic force carries light across the universe.

“Those three forces, gravity, strong and electromagnetic, are part of the deal,” says theoretical physicist Fred Adams of the University of Michigan

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