Does E=mc^2 apply to the proton

  • Thread starter ftr
  • Start date
  • #1
ftr
623
46

Main Question or Discussion Point

Most of the proton REST mass is energy anyway. So how does that work?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
jtbell
Mentor
15,519
3,354
In general, the mass of a system of particles (e.g. the proton which is a system of three quarks) is not the sum of the masses of the constituent particles.

The total energy of the system equals the sum of (a) the rest-energies E0 of the constituent particles (which correspond to their individual masses via E0 = mc2), (b) their kinetic energies, and (c) the potential energy of the system. The total energy corresponds to the mass of the system via E = mc2, if the system "as a whole" is at rest, i.e. if the total (vector) momentum is zero.

(By "mass" I always mean what is often called "rest mass.")
 
  • #3
ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
35,538
4,312
Most of the proton REST mass is energy anyway. So how does that work?
This doesn't make any sense.

A photon has energy, yet it has no rest mass! So having energy does NOT automatically equate to having rest mass.

A rest mass has an EQUIVALENT energy content. But an object such as a proton does NOT just have "energy content". It may have other properties as well, such as charge, spin... and yes, rest mass.

Zz.
 

Related Threads on Does E=mc^2 apply to the proton

  • Last Post
2
Replies
38
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
21
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
20
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
10
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
565
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
960
Top