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Energy-Momentum Equation of a Particle

  1. Mar 31, 2010 #1
    How do I get from the Energy-Momentum equation of a particle to its Stress-Energy equation?

    By way of introducing the energy-momentum equation:

    For a single particle, in units where c=1, a relationship between mass, energy and momentum appear as a direct result of the 4-velocity:

    [tex]m^2 = E^2 - p^2[/tex]

    We can define a 4-vector,

    [tex]m^\mu = (E^0, p^i) \ ,[/tex]

    (Greek indices ranges from 0 to 3, Latin indices ranges from 1 to 3 indexing spatial coordinates, and 0 is the temporal coordinate.)

    Mass is defined as the magnitude of the 4-vector,

    [tex]m^2 = m^\mu m_\mu \ .[/tex]​

    If the world line of the particle in question passes through some 4-volume, equally distrubuted in the volume, dtdxdydz we should have a stress-energy energy equation for this volume. Or am I wrong?

    ...I guess it's better to ask about an infinitessimal mass, dm, or about a finite 4-volume delta t delta x delta y delta z. Either way, it would be wonderful to know how to approach this problem.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2010 #2
    My notation may be confusing. I should use different symbols for intrinsic mass and the mass 4-vector, and make a few other touch-ups.

    [tex]m^2 = E^2 - \textbf{p}^2[/tex]

    [tex]\hat{m}^\mu = (E, p^i) [/tex]

    [tex]m^2 = \hat{m}^\mu \hat{m}_\mu[/tex]
  4. Apr 1, 2010 #3


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    What about

    T^{\mu\nu}=\rho u^{\mu} u^{\nu}

    except you might need a delta function around the position.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2010
  5. Apr 2, 2010 #4
    I think you're on the right track. Bringing in the 4-velocity was a good idea. In mulling this over, this afternoon, a good place to start is with the time-time component of the stress-energy tensor.

    In common units, T00 has units of relativistic mass per unit volume. We want energy units, but we can get energy density by multiplying by c2.

    The equation m2 = E2 - p2 can be taken as an equation about mass, energy and momentum densities, instead, by dividing each term by a unit volume. It's not quite solving for a particle moving in some trajectory, but similar.

    Come to think of it, m2 = E2 - p2, should be put in consistant units anyway, to avoid confusion.

    m2c4 = E2 - p2c2

    So now it's in energy units which is what we wanted. In terms of spacial densities,

    ρm2c4 = ρE2 - ρp2c2

    At this point we have to be careful, because it's not Lorentz invariant. I divided by a volume element which is not Lorentz invariant...
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2010
  6. Apr 2, 2010 #5

    George Jones

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  7. Apr 5, 2010 #6
    George. You’ve changed your picture. Nice little family. Best of times to you.

    I’m trying to find some deeper meaning to the mass-energy-momentum equation. The heuristic, m2 = E2 - p2, says nothing about the underlying continuum that gives rise to the particle, yet there it is. It also seems far too linear to arise from a nonlinear theory of spacetime, except as a low energy solution.

    The heuristic is to go back to Minkowski space, or an asymptotically flat part of spacetime, invoke the 4-velocity as a direct consequence of relativity and claim the 4-velocity, rescaled by mass, is a local property of a body at some given (t,x,y,z).
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2010
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