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Force Carriers, Mass, and Speed

  1. Jun 8, 2009 #1


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    I understand the photon has no mass, and therefore accelerates to the speed of light instantly. There is no inertia since there is no mass, and mass is a measure of inertia. If this is true, does it also mean that gluons (also mass-less) also travel at (and only) the speed of light?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2009 #2
    Just a remark on your post. Photons do not "accelerate" to the speed of light instantly, they only exist at the speed of light. Photons cannot live if not travelling at the speed of light.

    Gluons being an interaction between particles of a nucleus also "travels" at the speed of light.

  4. Jun 9, 2009 #3
    The answer to this question is quite a bit more subtle than you might think. If it were possible to see a single free gluon, it is certainly true that the gluon would be traveling at the speed of light. However, because gluons are charged under the strong force it is actually impossible to see a lone gluon. The expectation is that the closest we could come to this is finding something called a glueball. Glueballs are hypothetic particles which can be thought of as being made only of gluons bound together by their interactions with each other. If this is correct, glueballs should have mass similar to that of a pion.
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