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.

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151
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9answers
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Don't heavier objects actually fall faster because they exert their own gravity?

The common understanding is that, setting air resistance aside, all objects dropped to Earth fall at the same rate. This is often demonstrated through the thought experiment of cutting a large object ...
103
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24answers
15k views

How can you weigh your own head in an accurate way?

I read some methods but they're not accurate. They use the Archimedes principle and they assume uniform body density which of course is far from true. Others are silly like this one: Take a knife ...
94
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16answers
181k views

How does mass leave the body when you lose weight?

When your body burns calories and you lose weight, obviously mass is leaving your body. In what form does it leave? In other words, what is the physical process by which the body loses weight when ...
91
votes
8answers
102k views

If photons have no mass, how can they have momentum?

As an explanation of why a large gravitational field (such as a black hole) can bend light, I have heard that light has momentum. This is given as a solution to the problem of only massive objects ...
67
votes
6answers
14k views

Which way does the scale tip?

I found the problem described in the attached picture on the internet. In the comment sections there were two opposing solutions. So it made me wonder which of those would be the actual solution. So ...
44
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5answers
6k views

Why is the prospective new kilogram standard a sphere?

I can understand the choice of material, silicon 28, but why is it a sphere rather than (say) a cube? Article here I would have thought that a sphere would have been the hardest shape to machine ...
44
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6answers
3k views

What keeps mass from turning into energy?

I understand the energy and mass can change back and forth according to Einstein. It is fluid; it can go from one to the other. So, what keeps mass from just turning into energy? Is there some force ...
44
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7answers
3k views

Why do we have an elementary charge but no elementary mass?

Why do we have an elementary charge $e$ in physics but no elementary mass? Is an elementary mass ruled out by experiment or is an elementary mass forbidden by some theoretical reason?
44
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6answers
4k views

Massless charged particles

Are there any massless (zero invariant mass) particles carrying electric charge? If not, why not? Do we expect to see any or are they a theoretical impossibility?
42
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8answers
5k views

Why is the $S_{z} =0$ state forbidden for photons?

If photons are spin-1 bosons, then doesn't quantum mechanics imply that the allowed values for the z-component of spin (in units of $\hbar$) are -1, 0, and 1? Why then in practice do we only use the $...
42
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7answers
26k views

Is a hard drive heavier when it is full?

Browsing Quora, I saw the following question with contradicting answers. For the highest voted answer: The bits are represented by certain orientations of magnetic fields which shouldn't have ...
37
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10answers
33k views

How can a photon have no mass and still travel at the speed of light?

I've read a number of the helpful Q&As on photons that mention the mass/mass-less issue. Do I understand correctly that the idea of mass-less (a rest mass of 0) may be just a convention to make ...
33
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3answers
6k views

What is the smallest item for which gravity has been recorded or observed?

What is the smallest item for which gravity has been recorded or observed? By this, I mean the smallest object whose gravitational effect upon another object has been detected. (Many thanks to Daniel ...
33
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3answers
10k views

Does a photon exert a gravitational pull?

I know a photon has zero rest mass, but it does have plenty of energy. Since energy and mass are equivalent does this mean that a photon (or more practically, a light beam) exerts a gravitational pull ...
32
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5answers
4k views

Is mass an observable in Quantum Mechanics?

One of the postulates of QM mechanics is that any observable is described mathematically by a hermitian linear operator. I suppose that an observable means a quantity that can be measured. The mass ...
30
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6answers
4k views

Do photons gain mass when they travel through glass?

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that photons slow down when travelling through glass. Does this mean they gain mass? Otherwise, what happens to extra kinetic energy? I understand now ...
30
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4answers
16k views

What's the difference between the five masses: inertial mass, gravitational mass, rest mass, invariant mass and relativistic mass?

I have learned in my physics classes about five different types of masses and I am confused about the differences between them. What's the difference between the five masses: inertial mass, ...
29
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5answers
4k views

Do massless particles really exist? [duplicate]

I was in doubt, so I went to wikipedia. There it says "the photon has zero rest mass", but on the side description it says the mass is $<1.10^{-18} \:\mathrm{eV}/c^2$. So is the mass of the photon ...
29
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6answers
4k views

Does the speed of light in vacuum define the universal speed limit?

Is light the thing causing the universal speed limit to be $299\,792\,458\,\mathrm{m/s}$? So the universal speed limit would be different if light travelled faster or slower? Or, is $299\,792\,458\,\...
29
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3answers
3k views

Why is spacetime curved by mass but not charge?

It is written everywhere that gravity is curvature of spacetime caused by the mass of the objects or something to the same effect. This raises a question with me: why isn't spacetime curved due to ...
29
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8answers
5k views

Is (rest) mass quantized?

I learned today in class that photons and light are quantized. I also remember that electric charge is quantized as well. I was thinking about these implications, and I was wondering if (rest) mass ...
28
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5answers
5k views

Why is there a controversy on whether mass increases with speed?

Some people say that mass increases with speed, some people say that the mass of an object is independent of its speed. I understand how some (though not many) things in physics are a matter of ...
27
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3answers
4k views

Why does a large train cause the ground to shake?

I work in a 4 story building that is approx. 150 feet away from a set of train tracks. When a large (40+ car) freight train goes by, the shaking in the building is perceptible. As I've watched the ...
26
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5answers
3k views

Will 1 gram of matter moving at relativistic speeds completely annihilate a larger quantity of stationary antimatter?

This is a question about the relativistic mass concept which I am having trouble understanding, mainly because of the scenario below. Simple scenario: Suppose 1 gram of matter is accelerated to 99% ...
26
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4answers
3k views

Are Newton's “laws” of motion laws or definitions of force and mass?

If you consider them as laws, then there must be independent definitions of force and mass but I don't think there's such definitions. If you consider them as definitions, then why are they still ...
25
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8answers
4k views

Why is there a size limitation on animals?

Why is there a size limitation on human/animal growth? Assuming the technology exists for man to grow to 200 feet high, it's pretty much a given that the stress on the skeletal structure and joints ...
22
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7answers
7k views

Where on Earth does the mass of 1 kg actually produce a 1 kg reading on a digital scale?

Gravity on Earth varies by about 0.1% between poles and equator. If someone was buying/selling something mass critical e.g. gold, where is the standard place on Earth where a 1 kg mass produces a 1 kg ...
22
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1answer
19k views

Does the mass of a battery's change when charged/discharged?

... and if so, how much? Is it possible to detect it, or is it beyond any measurement? I'd say there are two possible scenarios (depending on the battery type) and both seem interesting: The battery ...
21
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3answers
2k views

The interpretation of mass in quantum field theories

Consider a free theory with one real scalar field: $$ \mathcal{L}:=-\frac{1}{2}\partial _\mu \phi \partial ^\mu \phi -\frac{1}{2}m^2\phi ^2. $$ We write this positive coefficient in front of $\phi ^2$ ...
20
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4answers
5k views

What's the difference between centre of mass & centre of gravity for massive bodies?

My book says: For most of the small objects, both are same. But for mammoth ones, they are really different ones. And in a gravity-less environment, COG is absent; COM still exists. Ok, what's ...
20
votes
10answers
108k views

What is the difference between weight and mass?

My science teacher is always saying the words "weight of an object" and "mass of an object," but then my physics book (that I read on my own) tells me completely different definitions from the way ...
20
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3answers
4k views

Can something without mass exert a force?

I am something of a dilettante in physics, so please forgive me if the answer to this question is painfully obvious. The question is simple, can something that theoretically has no mass exert a force. ...
19
votes
2answers
6k views

What did Tesla mean by “there is no energy in matter”?

I was reading "THE ETERNAL SOURCE OF ENERGY OF THE UNIVERSE, ORIGIN AND INTENSITY OF COSMIC RAYS" by Nikola Tesla, and he states: "There is no energy in matter except that absorbed from the ...
19
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4answers
15k views

Your Mass is NOT from Higgs Boson

Your Mass is NOT from Higgs Boson? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ztc6QPNUqls This guy can't be correct, right? He argues that because mostly of a nucleus' mass is made out of the space between ...
19
votes
1answer
606 views

Mass of empty AdS$_5$

Five dimensional empty AdS$_5$ space has mass $$ E = \frac{3 \pi \ell^2}{32 G}. $$ Is the above equation correct? Let's do some dimensional analysis to confirm. In natural units, in 5 dimensions ...
18
votes
7answers
3k views

Does the weight of an hourglass change when sands are falling inside?

An hourglass H weighs h. When it's placed on a scale with all the sand rested in the lower portion, the scale reads weight x where x = h. Now, if you turn the hourglass upside down to let the sand ...
18
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the exact gravitational force between two masses including relativistic effects?

I was wondering if there is a closed-form formula for the force between two masses $m_1$ and $m_2$ if relativistic effects are included. My understanding is that the classic formula $G \frac{m_1 m_2}{...
18
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4answers
3k views

Decay of massless particles

We don't normally consider the possibility that massless particles could undergo radioactive decay. There are elementary arguments that make it sound implausible. (A bunch of the following is ...
17
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11answers
76k views

Why does the (relativistic) mass of an object increase when its speed approaches that of light?

I'm reading Nano: The Essentials by T. Pradeep and I came upon this statement in the section explaining the basics of scanning electron microscopy. However, the equation breaks down when the ...
17
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7answers
4k views

Does electron in wave form have mass?

I heard from my lecturer that electron has dual nature. For that instance in young's double slit experiment electron exhibits as a particle at ends but it acts as a wave in between the ends. It under ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

Does the mass of an electron change with its “energy state”?

When an electron absorbs a photon, it gets into a higher energy state and goes into the upper orbit/shell. Does (rather should) this absorption of energy also have an impact on its mass (although ...
17
votes
5answers
9k views

Why don’t photons interact with the Higgs field?

Why don’t photons interact with the Higgs field and hence remain massless?
17
votes
2answers
4k views

Does $E = mc^2$ apply to photons?

Photons are massless, but if $m = 0$ and $E=mc^2$, then $E = 0c^2 = 0$. This would say that photons have no energy, which is not true. However, given the formula $E = ℎf$, a photon does have energy ...
16
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3answers
1k views

What is “mass” in particle physics? [duplicate]

It's clear, from reading pop-science articles about the Higgs boson, that particle physicists have something very specific in mind when they say "mass". In classical physics the mass of a particle is ...
16
votes
3answers
6k views

How does rest mass become energy?

I know that there's a difference between relativistic rest mass. Relativistic mass is "acquired" when an object is moving at speeds comparable to the speed of light.Rest mass is the inherent mass that ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Why do we need high energy to explore small dimensions?

I am taking a quantum physics class, and for the life of me, I can not remember why we would need a vast amount of energy to understand the microscopic universe.
15
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6answers
899 views

Speed of neutrinos

Everyone knows it is close to $c$, but how close? What are the recent results?
15
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2answers
939 views

Rest mass of phonon: is this concept definable?

Phonons are obtaied by non-relativistic quantization of the lattice vibration. The dispersion relation is given by $\omega=c_s k$ where $c_s$ is the velocity of sound. What can we say about the mass ...
15
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5answers
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Can we find actual rest mass of things on Earth

Earth moves around the Sun and the Sun moves around the galaxy and the galaxy moves with unknown speed and direction. We have speed so the mass of us all altered. Can we know the real rest mass? If ...
15
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3answers
2k views

Does relativistic mass have weight?

If an object was sliding on an infinitely long friction-less floor on Earth with relativistic speeds (ignoring air resistance), would it exert more vertical weight force on the floor than when it's at ...