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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80
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24answers
9k 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 ...
78
votes
8answers
17k 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 ...
72
votes
16answers
130k 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 ...
59
votes
7answers
6k 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 ...
51
votes
9answers
35k 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 ...
37
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?
36
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?
35
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
32
votes
7answers
10k 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 ...
30
votes
9answers
20k 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 ...
26
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
23
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
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 ...
21
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
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
1answer
460 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
4answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
7k 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, ...
16
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
16
votes
10answers
10k 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
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
votes
6answers
810 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
2k 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
3answers
836 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 $\phi ^2$ ...
14
votes
3answers
766 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
2k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
215 views

Explicit supersymmetry breaking fermion mass terms

I hope you can clear up my following confusions. In Girardello's and Grisaru's paper (Nuclear Physics B, 194, 65 (1982)) where they analysed the most general soft explicit supersymmetry breaking ...
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
1k 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
432 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 ...
12
votes
11answers
28k 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 ...
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
6k 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

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 ...
12
votes
3answers
8k 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 ...
11
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 ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

How does the Higgs Boson gain mass itself?

If the Higgs field gives mass to particles, and the Higgs boson itself has mass, does this mean there is some kind of self-interaction? Also, does the Higgs Boson have zero rest mass and so move at ...
11
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
3k 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? $$\sum_{m=1}^{\infty } \frac{1}{10^{26}(m^2+1)_{2m}}=$$ ...
10
votes
4answers
5k 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
2answers
2k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
790 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
4answers
4k 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
580 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 ...