The property of an object that determines how much it responds to a force in Newtonian mechanics, and how much it interacts with gravity in the Newtonian framework. Mass also refers to the intrinsic energy of a particle in particle physics.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

10
votes
4answers
5k views

Acceleration of two falling objects with identical form and air drag but different masses

I have a theoretical question that has been bugging me and my peers for weeks now - and we have yet to settle on a concrete answer. Imagine two balloons, one is filled with air, one with concrete. ...
10
votes
1answer
384 views

How the inverse square law in electrodynamics is related to photon mass?

I have read somewhere that one of the tests of the inverse square law is to assume nonzero mass for photon and then, by finding a maximum limit for it , determine a maximum possible error in ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

Why can light (photons) bends in a curve through space without mass? [duplicate]

I've heard that light can form a curve if they travel near high-mass stars or even a black hole with strong gravity. Which is according to this Newtonian formula $$\large ...
9
votes
2answers
428 views

How do you estimate the mass of a star?

How do we estimate the mass of a single star? I guess we need the luminosity the surface temperature, radius, distance, etc. But we know nothing about the reality, because we can measure the real ...
9
votes
3answers
424 views

What's with the very slightly larger mass of the neutron compared to the proton?

Neutron mass: 1.008664 u Proton mass: 1.007276 u Why the discrepancy? On a related note, how does one go about measuring the mass of a neutron or proton, anyway?
9
votes
3answers
786 views

How come a photon acts like it has mass in a superconducting field?

I've heard the Higgs mechanism explained as analogous to the reason that a photon acts like it has mass in a superconducting field. However, that's not too helpful if I don't understand the latter. ...
9
votes
2answers
525 views

Is everything made of massless particles?

Photons have no mass. Yet they interact gravitationally, as all energy does, with other energetic and massive particles. This means that if you put multiple photons in a system, you get something that ...
9
votes
2answers
284 views

Why do clouds fly? [duplicate]

I know it's probably the most stupid question there is, but why do they fly are the clouds lighter than air? What's keeping those tiny ice structures floating miles about the ground? I've been looking ...
9
votes
4answers
3k views

Density of a proton

I was doing some exercises the other day, when I came across this question in my book: A proton weighs about 1.66 x 10-24 g and has a diameter of about 10-15 m. What is its density in g/cm3? ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Why do we need Higgs field to re-explain mass, but not charge?

We already had definition of mass based on gravitational interactions since before Higgs. It's similar to charge which is defined based on electromagnetic interactions of particles. Why did Higgs ...
8
votes
1answer
290 views

Question about Majorana fermions

I have a few questions about Majorana fermions. What is Majorana mass? Does it have a different value compared to the mass in the Dirac equation for an arbitrary fermion? How exactly do they differ? ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Explain how (or if) a box full of photons would weigh more due to massless photons

I understand that mass-energy equivalence is often misinterpreted as saying that mass can be converted into energy and vice versa. The reality is that energy is always manifested as mass in some ...
8
votes
2answers
517 views

What's this about kinetic energy increasing with the fifth power of length?

I don't quite understand this quote from Stephen J. Gould's Ever since Darwin, where he talks about the compensating physical characteristics of organisms for their size. Other essential features ...
8
votes
2answers
590 views

Why do neutrinos propagate in a mass eigenstate?

I am aware that flavor $\neq$ mass eigenstate, which is how mixing happens, but whenever someone talks about neutrino oscillations they tend to state without motivation that when neutrinos are ...
8
votes
1answer
108 views

If protons and electrons had similar masses

If electrons and protons had the same mass, would they still be in a stable orbit around their barycenter, or would they eventually collide? Similarly, a positronium(or protonium) only lasts extremely ...
7
votes
3answers
711 views

If a neutrino has a rest frame, why can't a photon have a rest frame as well?

Concerning Rest Frame Wikipedia states: For example, in the rest frame of a neutrino particle travelling from the Crab Nebula supernova to Earth the supernova occurred in the 11th Century AD ...
7
votes
2answers
784 views

What is the role of the vacuum expectation value in symmetry breaking and the generation of mass?

Consider a theory of one complex scalar field with the following Lagrangian. $$ \mathcal{L}=\partial _\mu \phi ^*\partial ^\mu \phi +\mu ^2\phi ^*\phi -\frac{\lambda}{2}(\phi ^*\phi )^2. $$ The ...
7
votes
2answers
244 views

Why would a particle in an extra dimension appear not as one particle, but a set of particles?

I was reading an article in this months issue of Physics World magazine on the three main theories of extra dimensions and stumbled across something I didn't quite understand when the author began ...
7
votes
2answers
595 views

An atomic bomb explodes inside of an “unbreakable” container which is on a scale. Does the “weight” of the container change?

This may or may not be an incredibly stupid thought experiment, but a short time ago I read that most of the "mass" in the proton was actually energy from the quarks and gluons, as opposed to the ...
7
votes
2answers
299 views

Who formulated the idea of mass?

This may sound like a dumb question, but googling didn't seem to help. Mostly because I'm having a hard time formulating the question, and anything with "mass" seems to direct me to "Mass Effect". I ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Why can't gauge bosons have mass?

Clearly, a mass term for a vector field would render the Lagrangian not gauge-invariant, but what are the consequences of this? Gauge invariance is supposed to be crucial for the renormalisation of a ...
7
votes
1answer
316 views

Why mass terms are forbidden?

I would like to clarify my understanding on why mass terms in Lagrangians of gauge theories are forbidden. It's often repeated that particle masses are forbidden by electroweak symmetry because it is ...
7
votes
2answers
518 views

Special relativity and massless particles

I encountered an assertion that a massless particle moves with fundamental speed c, and this is the consequence of special relativity. Some authors (such as L. Okun) like to prove this assertion with ...
7
votes
2answers
190 views

Why did this glass start popping?

I remember a while ago my father dropped a glass lid and it smashed. It looked something like this. When that happened, for about 5 minutes afterwards, the glass parts were splitting, kind of like ...
7
votes
1answer
372 views

What part does the Higgs boson play in conveying mass?

I am a high school physics teacher and did my physics degree a while ago, well before the Higgs boson was on in the physics undergraduate syllabus. Now, I am a little confused. The recent discovery ...
7
votes
2answers
916 views

What is the difference between 'running' and 'current' quark mass?

When looking at the PDG, there is a difference between the 'running' and the 'current' quark masses. Does anyone know which is the difference between these two?
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Finding the volume of this irregular shape I have

I have an approximately basketball-sized non-hollow piece of aluminum sitting in my house that is of irregular shape. I need to find the volume of it for a very legitimate yet irrelevant reason. ...
6
votes
3answers
794 views

Special Relativity and $E = mc^2$

I read somewhere that $E=mc^2$ shows that if something was to travel faster than the speed of light then they would have infinite mass and would have used infinite energy. How does the equation show ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Can you create mass with $E=mc^2$?

If you use the equation $E=mc^2$ could you make matter by dividing the $c^2$? I'm sorry if this is a really stupid sounding question or if it shouldn't be asked here.
6
votes
3answers
1k views

What defines the mass of elementary particle?

The electron is particle. The mass of electron is $9.10938215(45)\times 10^{−31}\, {\rm kg}$. But why is the mass exactly what it is? What in physics defines the mass of elementary particle?
6
votes
3answers
670 views

Is there a difference between the speed of light and that of a photon?

As in the title I am curious whether there is a difference between the speed of photon and the speed of light, and if there is what is the cause of such a difference?
6
votes
1answer
3k views

How do we know the masses of single stars?

I have recently read that we can only know the masses of stars in binary systems, because we use Kepler's third law to indirectly measure the mass. However, it is not hard to find measurements for the ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Do all massless particles (e.g. photon, graviton, gluon) necessarily have the same speed $c$?

I suppose there was a discussion already on speed-of-gravity-and-speed-of-light. But I silly wonder whether all the massless mediators of four fundamental forces, i.e. Graviton: $g_{\mu\nu}$ ...
6
votes
3answers
429 views

What is the massless limit of massive electromagnetism?

Consider electromagnetism, an abelian gauge theory, with a massive photon. Is the massless limit equal to electromagnetism? What does it happen at the quantum level with the extra degree of freedom? ...
6
votes
6answers
5k views

Why can't photons have a mass

Why can't photons have a mass? Could you explain this to me in a short and mathematical way?
6
votes
6answers
2k views

Why is mass the quadratic term in a Lagrangian?

Why is mass the quadratic term in a Lagrangian?
6
votes
2answers
212 views

Why $-i\hbar\vec\nabla$ for momentum in quantum mechanics, while $m\vec{v}$ in classical mechanics?

I am a little bit confused when thinking of the momentum representation in QM and CM. In QM, momentum is represented as $-i\hbar\vec\nabla$, while in classical, momentum is represented as $m\vec{v}$. ...
6
votes
3answers
959 views

What is the mass of a wave?

The slide called "QUANTA" here says that "One Quantum has a definite mass" and the picture shows a wave. So, What is meant by the mass of a wave?
6
votes
3answers
749 views

How are the masses of unstable elementary particles measured?

I am interested in knowing how (Q1) the particle's masses are experimentally determined from accelerator observations. What kind of particles? They must be as far as we know elementary and unstable ...
6
votes
5answers
275 views

Acceleration in $F=ma$

I tried to ask this question in Electrical Engineering Stackexchange but was told I was better asking here. Newton's Second Law of Motion states that the vector sum of the forces $\mathbf{F}$ on an ...
6
votes
2answers
215 views

Inertial mass and gravitational mass of 5 dimensional stars

Consider the following metric which is 5 dimensional (2-parameter) spherically symmetric Kaluza-Klein solution ...
6
votes
2answers
207 views

Does the recent re-count of stars in elliptical gallaxies affect our understanding of the universal mass balance?

I've seen several popular reports of a new count of low-mass stars in elliptical galaxies (here's one). Edit: Pursuant to several correct comments I've changed the title to agree with the actual ...
6
votes
2answers
276 views

Mass gap for photons

I am puzzled by the answers to the question: What is a mass gap? There, Ron Maimon's answer gives a clear-cut definition, which I suppose applies to any quantum field theory with Hamiltonian $H$, ...
6
votes
3answers
383 views

Is it possible to have a singularity with zero mass?

A singularity, by the definition I know, is a point in space with infinite of a property such as density. Density is Mass/Volume. Since the volume of a singularity is 0, then the density will thus ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

The contribution to mass from the dynamical breaking of chiral symmetry

The claim is often made that the discovery of the Higgs boson will give us information about the origin of mass. However, the bare masses of the up and down quarks are only around 5 MeV, quite a bit ...
6
votes
1answer
138 views

Mass corrections to fermions proportional to the mass?

In this post regarding quantum corrections to a massless fermion field, the answerer stated that quantum corrections to the mass will always be proportional to the mass (at least in QED). This point ...
6
votes
1answer
148 views

Higgs boson mass and electroweak energy scale

Is it a coincidence that the mass of the Higgs boson is exactly half the electroweak energy scale?
6
votes
1answer
160 views

Intuitive explanation of how hadron mass emerges from the strong force

I'm not familiar with QCD, but I'm looking for intuitive explanation of this phenomenon (it could be that easy explanation does not exist). What I've read is that large part of hadron masses arises ...
6
votes
1answer
114 views

Little confusion with see-saw mechanism

Neutinos are either Dirac particles or Majorana particles but can’t be both at the same time. Then how can we write a general mass term as the sum of a Dirac mass term and a Majorana mass term? When ...
6
votes
2answers
235 views

What is the meaning of negative mass (in a SUSY spectrum)?

I was playing around with SuSpect to generate some SUSY mass spectrums and I'm often encountering situations where I get a negative neutralino mass. What is the physical meaning of this negative ...