When we encounter particle-collision problems that call for invoking the conservation of four-momentum, are we tacitly assuming a field-free idealization (or at least negligible potential energy)?(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

For example, say particles 1 and 2 collide elastically. Then the conservation of four-momentum says:

$$\mathbf{P}_{1,i} + \mathbf{P}_{2,i} = \mathbf{P}_{1,f}+ \mathbf{P}_{2,f}$$ (where ##i## means initial and ##f## means final).

But in reality, there's potential energy associated with the (changing) relative positions of the particles, isn't there? So to express the full picture, would we add ##\mathbf{P}_{\textrm{field},i}## to the left side and ##\mathbf{P}_{\textrm{field},f}## to the right side?

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# I Are fields ignored in conservation of 4-momentum problems?

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