What is matter made of? Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity says that E=mc-squared. It’s commonly known that energy cannot be created or destroyed but only converted to something else. Namely, energy can create matter and matter can be made into energy. Let’s talk about the meaning of matter. Matter has energy and energy is always around mass. We are in a physical universe full of matter and energy.
I have a degree in physics so I’m interested in science and always reading about research on stuff that is new. When I started to blog about science I had to go and learn what I didn’t know.
These posts are my way of sharing my knowledge and hopefully helping others with their own quest. I already took the time to learn this stuff so you can get the benefit of my help without going through the time and pain of research. Happy to teach what I learn!
Ordinary stuff is made up of any particle that has mass and takes up space by having a size. All everyday objects that you can touch are ultimately composed of atoms, electrons and molecules, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles.
In everyday use "matter" generally includes atoms and anything made up of them, and any particles that act as if they have both rest mass and volume.
However matter in the classical sense does not include so called “massless” particles such as photons, or other energy waves such as sound or vibrations.
Matter exists in various states or phases. These include classical everyday phases such as solid, liquid and gas.
For example, water exists as ice, liquid water, and gaseous vapour – but other states are possible, including plasma which is a high frequency form of matter.
An interesting point is that a single molecule of water doesn’t have any of the qualities that water has.
Science is moving quickly into understanding other forms of matter that were previously thought to be massless and present only as radiation such as neutrinos, gluons and normal sunlight.
One of the problems is rest mass. Einstein assumed that photons of light and neutrinos are massless because they are always moving and never at rest.
This led mathematicians to say the rest mass was zero and hence photons are massless. But with new advances in science and with new tools this is all changing.
My ultimate goal is to show proof that photons have mass and that the universe was created from a high energy source. That is one of my main reasons that got me interested in new science.
First, let's talk about some other types of particles that were considered as energy. Some kinds of point particles such as electrons and protons take up a very small amount of space and have a very small mass but what about neutrinos?
Neutrinos are strange particles. They were considered to be massless just like photons. Then in 2015 the Nobel prize in physics was given due to the work that was done in my hometown Sudbury in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory SNOLAB, where they found that neutrinos come in 3 different flavors. That was enough proof to show that they must have a small mass.
This was amazing, because these small particles come from the sun and change into different types as they are travelling to Earth. Another awesome fact is they travel at the speed of light and go right through the entire Earth without slowing down.
We have a lot to learn about these tiny particles that have mass and that are passing through us at the rate of 65 billion per square centimeter per second.
These are strange particles and I am asking why do they change into other shapes in mid flight? Almost like a communication system!
One other particle that is inside atoms was considered as energy without mass. The gluon particle.
A proton has 2 up quarks and a down quark held together by 3 gluons, the spring like energy.
Gluons are the exchange particles for the color force between the U and D quarks as in this picture and they are responsible for binding quarks together by the strong nuclear force to form protons and neutrons. This is a picture of a proton.
The gluon can be considered to be the fundamental exchange particle of the the strong nuclear force interaction between protons and neutrons in a nucleus.
Previously they were assumed to have no mass but it has been calculated that gluons have a very small mass however, they only exist inside atoms with quarks.
Finally the particles that make atoms are quarks and they have mass but the mass of quarks and gluons doesn’t add up to the mass of the atom’s particles. Where is the real mass?
This is hard to believe but the mass of particles comes from the Energy that the gluons are using to hold quarks together. In quantum mechanics Energy equals mass. Only 1% comes from the mass of the physical particles! Wow!
I have to wonder if every particle in the universe has some mass. My question is why do scientists say that the photon particle of light is massless? It doesn’t make any sense that electromagnetic particles have no mass but everything else does.
I have found about 20 or more reasons why photons have mass verses the one reason that it is massless. Remember that Einstein assumed it had zero mass because it was never at rest and since the classical definition of mass was that it had to have rest mass.
Consider this that neutrinos are never at rest and the same goes for quarks and gluons which are inside atoms and vibrating constantly, yet they have a small mass. Einstein didn’t have this knowledge of the atom.
Why not say that photons have a very small mass that is too small to measure? Then we can give up the unproven theory that gravity curves space time.
The relationship of mass and energy is a special one that is apparent in the famous equation E=mc^squared. In Einstein’s thesis it was written as m=E/c^squared. This states that the mass of a particle is equal to the Energy it has divided by the speed of light squared.
Light definitely has energy so in Einstein's equation the mass of a photon is the energy of the photon radiation divided by its speed c squared. Correct? Well, sort of...
There are 2 or more things wrong with this approach. First, light is made up of many different frequencies with different energies and it would be too complicated if each frequency or quanta of light had a different mass at each individual amplitude and frequency of Energy.
It would mean that white light which is made of many colors would have different masses for each color and each strength of intensity.
Secondly, the photon cannot be used in this equation because a photon is never at rest but also because its speed ‘c’ is being used in the equation already making the photon an exception to the rule.
Thirdly, quanta come in separate distinct packets of energy and not in a continuous assortment. So my theory is that since all photons have the same speed then possibly they have the same mass that is directly related to the Planck Constant.
The various forms of quanta or photons are separated by frequencies like musical notes and the power of each group of photons depends on the amplitude of the frequency. The mass is very small maybe the smallest mass of all particles.
This was a small talk about classical matter which have gluons and also have mass and gravity.
The nonclassical matter such as neutrinos and photons also have mass but no gravity because they don’t have gluons.
My last thoughts today are that mass does not equal gravity. Small particles like electrons, neutrinos and photons have no gravity fields but have mass.
So if gravity has a wave function called the graviton which Einstein was trying to find, then it comes directly from the strong nuclear force produced by gluons.
At any rate, this energy field of gravity comes from atoms and molecules as an additive force. The bigger the mass the stronger the gravity field.
Any particle that has gluons such as protons and neutrons has a gravity field and mass. Photons have mass but no gravity field so they are not attracted to more photons. But, as always gravity attracts mass!
Did this help you in any small way to think about matter, mass and energy?
Erik has a BSc degree and is a retired professional photographer who is now a published Author of many books. His passion is understanding how life and the universe works. He is currently blogging about the science of the Big Bang and the science of cosmology. Erik is helping his tribe with questions about the universe. His goal is to help find a theory of everything (TOE). In order to do that, he is trying to prove light has mass and that the fabric of spacetime is a false theory. We are welcoming questions and answers that you might have about the universe.