Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What we see all the different forms of matter around is just a form of energy. Why can't this energy be the most fundamental particle. Given dust can turn into a star and then emit all sorts of radiation loosing energy over a period of time either collapse to worst case of black hole or burst as a supernova. The dust and gas would again collapse again at some point of time and start the cycle all over again. Why can't energy be then the fundamental particle?

share|cite|improve this question
Have a look at the standard model of particle physics . all the entries in the table are "particles" the fundamental building blocks of nature. They interact with each other according to the energies of the system and the dynamical equations. All of them have energy, both as rest mass, and possibly kinetic, if in motion. – anna v Feb 15 '13 at 7:26

Students have a tendancy to think of the energy as a thing in it's own right - possibly as a result of watching too many episodes of Star Trek. As various people have commented, energy is a property of a system not an object in it's own right.

You can see this very easily. Take two objects of mass M coming towards each other at speed $v$. What is the kinetic energy of the system? If you're in the centre of mass frame you see two objects both moving at speed $v$, so the total kinetic energy is $mv^2$. But suppose you're sitting on one of the objects. Now you see your object has zero KE because it's stationary while the other object is moving at $2v$, so the total KE is $2mv^2$, which is different from the previous result.

So energy is frame dependant unlike for example the number of particles, which is frame independant (we'll gloss over the Unruh effect here!).

share|cite|improve this answer
Very clean demonstration – Michael Brown Feb 15 '13 at 8:00
One object of mass $m$ moving at speed $v$ has KE $0.5mv^2$. Two such objects have KE $0.5mv^2 + 0.5mv^2 = mv^2$. In the second frame KE = $0.5m(2v^2) = 2mv^2$. – John Rennie Feb 15 '13 at 8:14
Think you mean $\frac{1}{2}m(2v)^2$ in the second frame – Michael Brown Feb 15 '13 at 8:19
@MichaelBrown: oops, yes, typo! – John Rennie Feb 15 '13 at 8:24

Energy isn't a particle. It's a property of particles. Saying "energy" is a particle is just as nonsensical as saying velocity is a particle.

share|cite|improve this answer
what would be the outcome of annihilation of electron with anti-particles collide to release energy..what would it be? – user20982 Feb 15 '13 at 5:23
Photons, with energy equal to the electron's + the positron's. – jld Feb 15 '13 at 5:41
guess i need to correct myself here.. annihilation of electron with positron would produce 2 gamma ray photons...which leads to think..photons are the most fundamental particles now.. – user20982 Feb 15 '13 at 5:42
Photons are no more fundamental than any other elementary particle. – jld Feb 15 '13 at 5:45
so the annihilation created 2 high energy photons...the difference in mass of the earlier electron and positron is now converted to the high energy ..wherein energy being conserved... so is it true to say what we see around is all different forms of energy? guess i am going nowehere with this..thanks for your help – user20982 Feb 15 '13 at 6:20

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.