In everyday life, we usually directly note two basic forces: gravity and electromagnetism. Gravity—as in the acceleration due to Earth’s gravity—tends to be a background force of sorts, something that is always present and always the same. We don’t always see electricity and/or magnetism as such, but their subsidiaries are all around us—friction, normal force, tension, springs, and the like.

Physicists tend to group the weak and electromagnetic forces together under the banner “electroweak.” For more information, see
, “
God’s thoughts: Steps toward a theory of everything
Phys. Teach.
By this, I mean the equations that govern weak and strong nuclear forces. Undergraduates and high school students are fully capable of grasping the statistics of radioactive decay, for example.
The weak force is responsible for changing subatomic particles into other types of particles—for example, neutron decay—and doesn’t officially exhibit either a repulsive or attractive force.
The relative strengths cited are from their dimensionless coupling constants; see “
Coupling Constants for the Fundamental Forces
,” HyperPhysics, Georgia State University,
A sample activity is available for readers at TPT Online, , under the Supplemental tab.

Supplementary Material

AAPT members receive access to The Physics Teacher and the American Journal of Physics as a member benefit. To learn more about this member benefit and becoming an AAPT member, visit the Joining AAPT page.