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

What happens to the kinetic energy of a speedy proton

  1. Jul 13, 2003 #1


    User Avatar


    What happens to the kinetic energy of a speedy proton when its relativistic masss doubles?

    a) it doubles b) it more than doubles c) it less than doubles d) it must increase but impossible to say by how much

    Now, what kind of question is this? Or should I ask what klind of answers are these, its like really vagues, huh?

    I mean whith a steady net force applied to an object of rest mass, the object increases speed. Since its acting over a distance the work done and its KE increases but not over c (speed of light in vacuum). On the other hand the mass of the object not only increases
    with increaseing speed. That is to say the work done on an object not only increases its speed but also contributes to increaseing mass. My question now is which answer would you choose?

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2003 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Mass increases with speed as m= m0/sqrt(1-v2/c2.

    Kinetic energy is given by (1/2)mv2.

    Put those together and you get ((1/2)m0)(v2/sqrt(1-v2/c2)).

    If v is such that 1/sqrt(1-v2/c2= 2 (mass doubles) then the v2 part will have caused the kintic energy to be far more than double.
  4. Jul 14, 2003 #3
    " Kinetic energy is given by (1/2)mv2 " ?

    I'm not sure about that...

    Kinetic energy = m0*c^2*[1/sqrt(1-v^2/c^2)-1]...

    Let a=1/sqrt(1-v1^2/c^2)...b=1/sqrt(1-v2^2/c^2)...
    So... T2/T1>2...
  5. Jul 14, 2003 #4

    Tom Mattson

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yes, you're right. KE=(γ-1)m0c2

    The formula KE=(1/2)mv2is not valid at relativistic speeds.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook