Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What Causes Mass ?

  1. Oct 8, 2004 #1
    Dear Forum Members,

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

    <> Roger <>
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award

    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...
  4. Oct 8, 2004 #3
    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.

  5. Oct 8, 2004 #4
    Time does not rely on mass, time is not effected by our dimesions. Time will continue after nothingness.(Personal Theory Belief)
  6. Oct 8, 2004 #5
    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?

  7. Oct 9, 2004 #6


    User Avatar
    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?
  8. Oct 9, 2004 #7


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Even without mass, there could be beams of energy moving all around. So there would still be change.
  9. Oct 9, 2004 #8
    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
  10. Oct 9, 2004 #9
    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.
  11. Oct 9, 2004 #10
    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.

  12. Oct 9, 2004 #11
    Time does rely on mass. General Relativity predicts a phenomenon known as gravitational time dilation, and this has been experimentally verified.
  13. Oct 10, 2004 #12


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    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.
  14. Oct 10, 2004 #13
    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 !!

  15. Oct 10, 2004 #14
    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 ?


  16. Oct 10, 2004 #15
    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?

  17. Oct 11, 2004 #16
    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.

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: What Causes Mass ?
  1. What causes Mass (Replies: 17)

  2. Mass caused by a field (Replies: 8)

  3. What causes this? (Replies: 1)