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.