Electromagnetism underpins the generation of electricity, holds electrons in atoms, and can bind these into molecules. It is relatively strong, and infinite in range. In contrast the weak force, which causes radioactive beta decay, and the fusion process in our Sun, is very feeble, and only acts over distances much smaller than a proton.
Theories developed in the 1960s and 1970s suggested that these two apparently fantastically difference forces were “unified”: they were aspects of the same interaction.
The key prediction of the theories was that two particles, which had never been seen, should exist. Peter Kalmus participated in an experiment at CERN which discovered these particles.
Peter Kalmus is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Queen Mary, University of London, UK. He has carried out research in particle physics at accelerators in the UK, USA, Germany and CERN, and is an author of 230 research publications. He was awarded the Rutherford Medal for his contribution to the discovery of the W and Z particles which showed that electromagnetism and the weak interaction were aspects of the same force.
He received the Kelvin Medal and the EPS Outreach Prize for public understanding of physics, and an OBE for services to physics. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics, an honour achieved by only 40 people including 6 Nobel Prize winners.