Probably the most famous equation in physics, Albert Einstein’s equation shows that energy and mass are just different forms of the same thing.
Amazing But True
- Mass-energy equivalence is the physics concept that the mass of an object is the measure of its energy content. Another way of saying this is that there exists a constant, proportional relationship between the mass in a system and the energy in a system. This relationship is given by
where is the energy, is the mass and is the speed of light.
- The above equation is also known as the rest energy and , sometimes written as , is known as the rest mass. When an object has momentum, the above equation is still a really good approximation until the speed approaches a fraction of the speed of light. When an object is moving with a velocity that is at a fraction of the speed of light, the energy-mass equivalence equation must be rewritten to include the momentum
where is the rest mass and is the momentum.
- View One Form of the Derivation of The Mass-Energy Equation at the video below:
- See How The Full Equation Comes Into Being at the video below:
Show What You Know
Using the information provided above, answer the following questions.
- If a classmate tells you that a photon breaks the mass energy equation, how you would explain to them that they were wrong?
- How is it that no matter how hard you try, any object with mass will never reach the speed of light ?
- Are there any cases where light can travel faster than ?