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

78
votes
23answers
7k 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 ...
69
votes
8answers
13k views

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 ...
63
votes
16answers
111k 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 ...
35
votes
7answers
2k 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?
35
votes
7answers
2k 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?
34
votes
8answers
25k 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 ...
29
votes
7answers
7k 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 ...
28
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
27
votes
9answers
16k 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 ...
22
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
20
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
19
votes
8answers
1k 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
0answers
244 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 ...
15
votes
10answers
5k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
6k 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, ...
15
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
6answers
493 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
631 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
13
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
855 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
398 views

Is it only the Higgs field that stops me from getting to $c$?

Is it only the higgs field that stops me from accelerating up to the speed of light or is there other restriction concerning the increase in mass? In other words if I had a Higgs field shield on my ...
13
votes
3answers
684 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 $\phi ^2$ ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the symmetry which is responsible for conservation of mass?

According to Noether's theorem, all conservation laws originate from invariance of a system to shifts in a certain space. For example conservation of energy stems from invariance to time translation. ...
12
votes
11answers
5k views

Does 'electricity' have mass? Is 'electricity' tangible?

Background: I'm in a legal academic discussion about the status of electronic 'goods' and whether they qualify as 'goods' in the same way a chair and a pen do. In this context (and specifically at the ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

If the universe were compressed into a super massive black hole, how big would it be?

I understand only a little of general relativity, but that's why I'm here! :) Consider the hypothetical situation of some extra-terrestrial intelligence pushing all the mass in the universe, every ...
12
votes
3answers
6k views

How do we determine the mass of a black hole?

Since by definition we cannot observe black holes directly, how do astronomers determine the mass of a black hole? What observational techniques are there that would allow us to determine a black ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Why does a black hole have a finite mass?

I mean besides the obvious "it has to have finite mass or it would suck up the universe." A singularity is a dimensionless point in space with infinite density, if I'm not mistaken. If something is ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

Why would a fat skydiver fall first in free fall?

I was having one of those obnoxious conversations with a friend where he was arguing that a fat skydiver would reach the ground faster than a skinny skydiver. To me it seemed as obvious that the world ...
10
votes
11answers
18k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
4k views

Why don’t photons interact with the Higgs field?

Why don’t photons interact with the Higgs field and hence remain massless?
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Where does matter come from?

I admit, it's been a few years since I've studied physics, but the following question came to me when I was listening to a talk by Lawrence Krauss. Is there any knowledge of from where matter that ...
10
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
3k 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
2answers
553 views

Do we have an idea about the amount of matter in the universe?

Do we consider the amount of matter in the universe to be "infinite"? Or do we have an idea about "how much" there is?
10
votes
2answers
412 views

Equivalence of definitions of ADM Mass

ADM Mass is a useful measure of a system. It is often defined (Wald 293) $$M_{ADM}=\frac{1}{16\pi} \lim_{r \to \infty} \oint_{s_r} (h_{\mu\nu,\mu}-h_{\mu\mu,\nu})N^{\nu} dA$$ Where $s_r$ is two ...
10
votes
1answer
305 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 lights(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 backhole with high gravities. Which is according to this equation. $$\large F_{g}=\dfrac{Gm_1m_2}{r^2}$$ But I've ...
9
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
2k 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
3answers
2k views

Have I discovered how to calculate the proton's mass using only integers?

Could it be possible that the mass of the proton can be calculated by a series of integer sequences? Or is this just a curiosity? $$\sum_{m=1}^{\infty } \frac{1}{10^{26}(m^2+1)_{2m}}=$$ ...
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
176 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
2answers
467 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
368 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
392 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?
7
votes
2answers
217 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 ...