The nuclear force (or nucleon–nucleon interaction or residual strong force) is the force between two or more nucleons. It is responsible for binding of protons and neutrons into atomic nuclei. The energy released causes the masses of nuclei to be less than the total mass of the protons and neutrons which form them; this is the energy used in nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The force is powerfully attractive between nucleons at distances of about 1 femtometer(fm) between their centers, but rapidly decreases to insignificance at distances beyond about 2.5 fm. At very short distances less than 0.7 fm, it becomes repulsive, and is responsible for the physical size of nuclei, since the nucleons can come no closer than the force allows. The nuclear force is now understood as a residual effect of the even more powerful strong force, or strong interaction, which is the attractive force that binds particles called quarks together, to form the nucleons themselves. This more powerful force is mediated by particles called gluons. Gluons hold quarks together with a force like that of electric charge, but of far greater power. The concept of a nuclear force was first quantitatively constructed in 1934, shortly after the discovery of the neutron revealed that atomic nuclei were made of protons and neutrons, held together by an attractive force. The nuclear force at that time was conceived to be transmitted by particles called mesons, which were predicted in theory before being discovered in 1947. In the 1970s, further understanding revealed these mesons to be combinations of quarks and gluons, transmitted between nucleons that themselves were made of quarks and gluons. This new model allowed the strong forces that held nucleons together, to be felt in neighboring nucleons, as residual strong forces.