Explains beta decay. TODO why/how.
Maybe a good view of why this force was needed given beta decay experiments is: in beta decay, a neutron is getting split up into an electron and a proton. Therefore, those charges must be contained inside the neutron somehow to start with. But then what could possibly make a positive and a negative particle separate?
www.thestargarden.co.uk/Weak-nuclear-force.html gives a quick and dirty:
Beta decay could not be explained by the strong nuclear force, the force that's responsible for holding the atomic nucleus together, because this force doesn't affect electrons. It couldn't be explained by the electromagnetic force, because this does not affect neutrons, and the force of gravity is far too weak to be responsible. Since this new atomic force was not as strong as the strong nuclear force, it was dubbed the weak nuclear force.Also interesting:
While the photon 'carries' charge, and therefore mediates the electromagnetic force, the Z and W bosons are said to carry a property known as 'weak isospin'. W bosons mediate the weak force when particles with charge are involved, and Z bosons mediate the weak force when neutral particles are involved.