Questioning Physics: Is Mass-Energy Conversion Possible?

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In summary: Binding energy is the mechanical energy required to disassemble a whole into separate parts. A bound system has typically a lower potential energy than its constituent parts; this is what keeps the system together- often this means that energy is released upon the creation of a bound state. The usual convention is that this corresponds to a positive binding energy.
  • #1
wilhelm96
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Hope this theoretical question isn't too stupid, just my physics teacher couldn't give me a satisfying answer and I am only 14. (english is also not my mothertongue, pls excuse grammatical failures)

So what if there was some sort of machine, that would just convert mass into energy after e=mc².

If you were to feed this machine first with 1 kg of CO², you'd get 9 GJ.

If you were then to feed this machine with the aquivalent of C and O needed to produce 1kg of CO², but seperatly, you'd still get out the 9 GJ.

But what happened with the theoretical chemical Energy C and O has?

Does it maybe get lost when C and O becomes plasma thus releasing the energy held by the angle of the electron pairs to each other?

So, doesn't that also mean, that no such machine could exist, without having to heat up the mass to a very high point?
 
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  • #2
The "empirical" law of baryon number conservation (the sum of protons plus neutrons) prevents conversion of 1 Kg of CO2 (~500 g of protons, ~500 g of neutrons, ~0.25 g of electrons) into pure energy. Excluding considering nuclear binding energies, 1 kG of protons and 0.5 g of electrons would have the least mass that conserves baryon number.

Bob S
 
  • #3
There is no machine you can use, but there is a physical processs called Annihilation. When a particle and its antiparticle (electron positron for example) 'collide' the result is a total conversion of MATTER to energy. It should be noted that it's matter you're thinking of, not mass... mass is present as a function of energy-momentum too.

If you take a molecule of helium, and anti-helium, the result is a total conversion from matter to energy, including all of the binding energies: chemical, molecular, atomic. Annihilation is the only means that I know of which conceivably gives 100% efficiency for conversion.
 
  • #4
Such a machine would indeed be impossible when taking into regard some advanced physics.

However, let's assume for now we could make such a machine. It is true that to make CO2 from the separate components takes some energy. This energy can be found by precisly weighing C and O seperatly and then weighing the combination: CO2. You would find that the CO2 is ever so slight heavier than the weight of a C and two O's added! The difference in weight is minute, a lot smaller than 1%. But precisly that weight is the energy (through E-mc^2) that it takes to bind the C and O atoms. It is called the binding energy. So feeding the machine CO2 would make it produce a little more energy.

Good question!
 
  • #5
bekker said:
It is true that to make CO2 from the separate components takes some energy. This energy can be found by precisly weighing C and O seperatly and then weighing the combination: CO2. You would find that the CO2 is ever so slight heavier than the weight of a C and two O's added! The difference in weight is minute, a lot smaller than 1%. But precisly that weight is the energy (through E-mc^2) that it takes to bind the C and O atoms. It is called the binding energy. So feeding the machine CO2 would make it produce a little more energy.

Huh? You have this reversed.

The C + O -> CO2 reaction is exothermic (gives off energy). This is normal every-day combustion. It is, in fact, a very common reaction. You see it when charcoal burns in your barbecue grill. The heat of the charcoal comes from this reaction.

C and O want to combine because the combination has LESS mass, NOT MORE. CO2 has less mass than C and 2 O.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_energy

Binding energy is the mechanical energy required to disassemble a whole into separate parts. A bound system has typically a lower potential energy than its constituent parts; this is what keeps the system together- often this means that energy is released upon the creation of a bound state. The usual convention is that this corresponds to a positive binding energy.

(bold is mine)
 
  • #6
You're right, my bad.
 

Related to Questioning Physics: Is Mass-Energy Conversion Possible?

1. What is mass-energy conversion in physics?

Mass-energy conversion in physics is the concept that mass and energy are interchangeable and can be converted into one another. This is described by Albert Einstein's famous equation E=mc^2, where E represents energy, m represents mass, and c represents the speed of light. This equation states that a small amount of mass can be converted into a large amount of energy, and vice versa.

2. Is mass-energy conversion possible?

Yes, mass-energy conversion is possible and has been proven through various experiments and observations in the field of physics. The most famous example is the explosion of an atomic bomb, where a small amount of mass is converted into a tremendous amount of energy.

3. How does mass-energy conversion impact our daily lives?

Mass-energy conversion has a significant impact on our daily lives, as it is the basis for nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. It also plays a role in understanding the behavior of matter and the universe on a large scale.

4. Are there any limitations to mass-energy conversion?

While mass-energy conversion is possible, it is not a limitless process. According to Einstein's equation, the speed of light is the maximum speed at which energy can be converted into mass or vice versa. Additionally, there are conservation laws in physics that dictate that the total mass-energy in a closed system must remain constant.

5. How does mass-energy conversion relate to the theory of relativity?

The theory of relativity, specifically Einstein's theory of special relativity, is the foundation for the concept of mass-energy conversion. This theory states that the laws of physics are the same for all observers in uniform motion and that the speed of light is constant for all observers. The equation E=mc^2 is a direct result of this theory and explains the relationship between mass and energy.

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