- #26

JesseM

Science Advisor

- 8,496

- 12

No, not if you use the definition given by Tom Roberts, where the "rest mass" of a composite object is defined as its total energy (divided by c^2, presumably) in the center-of-mass frame. In this frame, most of the individual particles will have nonzero velocity, so their energy will be greater than just c^2 times their rest mass, it will be c^2 times their relativistic mass.Aer said:should be "the mass of an object is the sum of all its constituents' rest masses".

Here is another page (from mathpages.com, a pretty reliable internet resource) that says that the inertia of a composite object (its resistance to being accelerated) will be a function of its total energy, not just the energy of the rest mass of all the constituent particles:

Do you have any sources to back up your claim that the inertia of a composite object is dependent only on the rest masses of its constituent particles? If not, why are you so confident about this?Another derivation of mass-energy equivalence is based on consideration of a bound "swarm" of particles, buzzing around with some average velocity. If the swarm is heated (i.e., energy E is added) the particles move faster and thereby gain both longitudinal and transverse mass, so the inertia of the individual particles is anisotropic, but since they are all buzzing around in random directions, the net effect on the stationary swarm (bound together by some unspecified means) is that its resistance to acceleration is isotropic, and its "rest mass" has effectively been increased by E/c^2. Of course, such a composite object still consists of elementary particles with some irreducible rest mass, so even this picture doesn't imply complete mass-energy equivalence.