# What Causes Mass ?

## Main Question or Discussion Point

Dear Forum Members,

What Is The Cause Of Mass For Particles And For Things In General ?

<> Roger <>

## Answers and Replies

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Chronos
Gold Member
Hi roger! You would think such a simple question would have a simple answer. Of course this is physics, where the simplest of questions are the hardest to answer. The most fashionable current explanation for mass is the Higgs boson - which, also of course, no one has been able to detect to date. We might find one next year tho...
http://www.phy.uct.ac.za/courses/phy400w/particle/higgs3.htm

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roger said:
What Is The Cause Of Mass For Particles And For Things In General?
Chronos said:
The most fashionable current explanation for mass is the Higgs boson - which, also of course, no one has been able to detect to date. We might find one next year tho...
Consider this: If there was no mass in the universe there would be no meaning to energy or force, both of which are defined in terms of mass. There would be no gravity, and no distance or time (what would you measure time or distance in relation to without a mass to define a reference frame?).

So what creates mass may simply be the lack of nothingness. Which is one way of looking at the Higgs field.

Calculex

Calculex said:
There would be no gravity, and no distance or time
Time does not rely on mass, time is not effected by our dimesions. Time will continue after nothingness.(Personal Theory Belief)

KaneOris said:
Time does not rely on mass, time is not effected by our dimesions. Time will continue after nothingness.(Personal Theory Belief)
I am not sure it would have any meaning. We measure time as the rate at which things change relative to some standard or reference rate at which things change. If there are no 'things' to change, what would time mean?

Calculex

rcgldr
Homework Helper
This is almost like asking why is the universe here? Where did the mass and energy of the big bang come from? Going from nothing to something is a reversal of entropy. How is it that entropy was reversed for those first moments of the big bang? Living things decrease entropy locally, can this ever be done without an overall increase in entropy?

Are there any nuclear reactions where the end result is more mass and less energy?

rcgldr
Homework Helper
time does not require mass
If there are no 'things' to change, what would time mean?
Even without mass, there could be beams of energy moving all around. So there would still be change.

Jeff Reid said:
Are there any nuclear reactions where the end result is more mass and less energy?
The fusion of an iron atom with another atom would create a nucleus with more rest mass than the original nuclei, at the expense of their kinetic energy. Such reactions do not occur naturally except during stellar core collapses.

Defining time is possible without any massive particles. It is debatable - aka I don't know the answer - whether a universe containing a single massive particle can have a meaningful coordinate system. Perhaps it can, if the particle can decay? (eg a neutral pion). A massless particle cannot define one - there is no way to define a time axis nor a spatial direction in the direction of its "motion". (This was a topic once debated here in SR). But a system of two particles that are moving wrt each other should suffice, regardless of whether they are massless or not.

For the OP: there have been plenty of threads around here on this; the term you want to search for is "Higgs mechanism". Here's an old thread to get you started: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=35894

To jeff: surely energy and mass are equivalents so if energy is present so is mass.

Also time is affected by mass as you can have time dilations with travelling at speeds near speed of light. And also dark energy (surely has mass, please correct me if im wrong) is the energy responsible for the accelerated expansion of space-time.

Jeff Reid said:
Even without mass, there could be beams of energy moving all around. So there would still be change.
Like light? Where would it come from? Where would it be going? What frame of reference would you use to determine distance? How fast would a light beam be traveling relative to another light beam? In the absence of mass, these questions seem to have no meaning. Mass seems to be an inherent property of the lack of nothingness.

Calculex

KaneOris said:
Time does not rely on mass, time is not effected by our dimesions. Time will continue after nothingness.(Personal Theory Belief)
Time does rely on mass. General Relativity predicts a phenomenon known as gravitational time dilation, and this has been experimentally verified.

rcgldr
Homework Helper
Even without mass, there could be beams of energy moving all around. So there would still be change.
Like light? Where would it come from?
From the last matter / anti-matter collision in the universe. Assume several of these happened before all mass was converted into engergy. Now you have several pulses of light traveling through space.

Mass is electromagnetic change. Think aout it. Whether that change is in the form of the higgs boson or something yet unknown the concept still works. Any equation that describes mass can be reduced down to one variable and a few constants. The variable is always some form of electromagnetic change.

Keep on chuggin !!

Vern

Vern said:
Mass is electromagnetic change. Think aout it. Whether that change is in the form of the higgs boson or something yet unknown the concept still works. Any equation that describes mass can be reduced down to one variable and a few constants. The variable is always some form of electromagnetic change.

Keep on chuggin !!

Vern
Dear vern,

Please can you expand on this.

A change of what to what ?

What is the one variable and a few constants you refer to ?

Thanks.

Roger

Jeff Reid said:
From the last matter / anti-matter collision in the universe. Assume several of these happened before all mass was converted into engergy. Now you have several pulses of light traveling through space.
Ok. Lets leave aside the fact that this does not eliminate mass as a quantity in the universe, it just eliminates matter. How would you be able to detect these photons? What would they interact with? And how do you define the frame of reference in which to measure the speed and direction and position of these photons?

Calculex

roger said:
Dear vern,

Please can you expand on this.

A change of what to what ?

What is the one variable and a few constants you refer to ?

Thanks.

Roger
One that comes to mind is m = hv / cc.

I mean electromagnetiic change as in frequency. The only variable in the equation m = hv / cc is v, the frequency, or stated differently, the rate of change of electromagnetic fields.

That mass is electromagnetic change is an old idea that was floating around before Einstein's time. I've never seen the idea put to rest.

Vern