Can a Particle at Rest Spontaneously Disintegrate into Multiple Particles?

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In summary: The Law of Conservation of Energy still applies, because the total amount of energy in the system (kinetic and potential) is still the same.
  • #1
lugita15
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Consider a particle at rest (what I mean is that the particle has no velocity, but also has no force acting on it) that spontaneously disintegrates into more than one particle, e.g. two or three particles. Before the particle disintegrates, there is no kinetic energy in the system. Afterwards, there is kinetic energy.

How do you reconcile this with the Law of Conservation of Energy? Do you assume that the initial particle has some potential energy associated with it? The existence of potential energy implies the presence of a conservative force. But if there were some kind of force acting on the particle, this would contradict the assumption that the particle had no forces acting on it to begin with.

In special relativity, this problem doesn't arise because every particle has a rest energy, [tex]m_{0}c^{2}.[/tex] But what about in classical mechanics? Before Einstein came out with the theory of relativity, was the phenomenon of a particle splitting up into more than one particles a completely unexplainable mystery?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank You in Advanced.
 
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  • #2
There's no force on the whole particle, but there might be forces between the parts of the particle.
 
  • #3
Generally they say, they particles do not disintegrate. Like say a bomb. They chemical energy makes it to go off. This, in view of classical mech, is:

The chemical energy converts to kinetic energy.

There's no chem. energy : - no go off
 
  • #4
There can't be a particle moving none-at-all, because then we would know it's position and momentum!
 
  • #5
In any case, there is no "conservation of kinetic energy" law, nor are "kinetic energy" and "potential energy" the only kinds of energy there are! In order to "disintegrate" into two moving parts, there must have been some kind of internal energy that was converted to the kinetic energy of the parts.
 
  • #6
HallsofIvy said:
In any case, there is no "conservation of kinetic energy" law, nor are "kinetic energy" and "potential energy" the only kinds of energy there are! In order to "disintegrate" into two moving parts, there must have been some kind of internal energy that was converted to the kinetic energy of the parts.
How could one calculate the minimum amount of internal energy required?
 
  • #7
lugita15 said:
How could one calculate the minimum amount of internal energy required?
The internal potential energy lost would be exactly equal to the kinetic energy of the resulting system of particles.
 
  • #8
lugita15 said:
Consider a particle at rest (what I mean is that the particle has no velocity, but also has no force acting on it) that spontaneously disintegrates into more than one particle, e.g. two or three particles. Before the particle disintegrates, there is no kinetic energy in the system. Afterwards, there is kinetic energy.

How do you reconcile this with the Law of Conservation of Energy? Do you assume that the initial particle has some potential energy associated with it? The existence of potential energy implies the presence of a conservative force. But if there were some kind of force acting on the particle, this would contradict the assumption that the particle had no forces acting on it to begin with.
You assumed that the particle had no *external* forces acting on it, infact, after disintegration, the system's centre of mass doesn't move at all.
 

Related to Can a Particle at Rest Spontaneously Disintegrate into Multiple Particles?

What is disintegration of particles?

The disintegration of particles refers to the process in which a particle breaks down into smaller components or completely disappears, often as a result of a nuclear reaction or decay.

What causes particles to disintegrate?

Particles can disintegrate due to various factors, including collisions with other particles, interactions with radiation, and unstable internal structures. For subatomic particles, the weak nuclear force is the primary cause of disintegration.

What is the significance of studying particle disintegration?

Studying particle disintegration allows scientists to understand the fundamental building blocks of matter and the forces that govern their behavior. It also has practical applications in fields such as nuclear energy and medical imaging.

Can we control or manipulate the disintegration of particles?

In some cases, yes. Scientists have developed techniques to control and manipulate the disintegration of particles, such as using accelerators to induce nuclear reactions and creating artificial radioactive isotopes for various purposes.

What are the potential dangers of particle disintegration?

The disintegration of particles can release large amounts of energy, which can be dangerous if not properly contained or controlled. Additionally, some disintegration processes can produce harmful radiation, so safety precautions must be taken when studying or working with radioactive materials.

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