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The Concept Of Mass


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#1 Moronium

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 09:13 PM

The concept of mass seems to me to be quite confusing, indistinct, amorphous, ambiguous, and vague.

 

First of all, what is mass, exactly?  By manipulating the F = MA formulation you find that mass boils down to "resistance to acceleration."  But that is a circular notion with no independent meaning. It seems like a fictitious bookkeeping notion that is invented just to make things "balance."  You need force and acceleration to give it any kind of meaning, but even then....I'll come back to this.

 

In terms of a less formal definition, it seems to me that "mass" boils down to inertia, as summarized in Newton's laws of mechanics.  It is the TENDENCY of a material object at rest to remain at rest and the TENDENCY of that same object to remain moving, when moving, at the same speed in a straight line.  This is just a different way of saying "resistance to acceleration," it seems.

 

But where does this "tendency" come from?  What is it?  Why is it?  

 

Things get even more obscure and abstract when you consider that mass equals "energy."  What is energy, exactly?  The commonly accepted definition seems to be something like "the ability to do work."  Putting the two together, then, we get:

 

The ability to do work is resistance to acceleration. Or maybe "inertia is the ability to do work."

 

What the hell does that mean?  And these two things are deemed to be interchangeable, where either one can "transform" into the other.  How does a tendency to remain stable and unchanging somehow get identified with "the ability to do work?"  Sounds more like a lazy guy than an industrious one, know what I'm sayin?  A guy who resists doing anything doesn't sound like a model for "the ability to do work."  It sounds more like a guy who is essentially "incapable of doing work."

 

Things get all the more confusing when you talk about "potential energy."  Potential ability to do work? The word "ability" is actually quite similar to "potential" to begin with, so isn't this rather redundant? Or is it essentially an oxymoron? It seems like you either have the ability to do work, or you don't.  Are we talking about something analogous to a completely paralyzed guy who may someday regain the ability to move, or what?  Like inertia, "potential energy" also strikes me as little more than a fiction invented to "make things balance."

 

Can anyone help clarify, and give some substance to, these various concepts for me?  I'm not looking for an "explanation" that simply uses mathematical equations.  Such equations implicitly assume that the kind of questions I'm asking have already been answered.


Edited by Moronium, 11 April 2019 - 04:34 AM.


#2 OceanBreeze

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 01:15 AM

Mass is the measure of matter and matter is what stuff is made of.

Next question! :googleit:

 



#3 VictorMedvil

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 03:53 AM

Rest Mass is the energy bound into the Strong Nuclear Force along with particles and the energy tied into the Strong Nuclear Force along with particles resists movement as the energy bound into the Strong Nuclear Force and particles has to be moved with the object. Now relative mass is the amount of energy that is gained upon relative movement on the particle or mass, basically as an object moves some of its energy is converted to relative Mass, which also impedes movement. it seems that particles and the Strong Nuclear Force consume more energy to be stable as movement occurs.


Edited by VictorMedvil, 11 April 2019 - 04:02 AM.


#4 Moronium

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 05:06 AM

Rest Mass is the energy bound into the Strong Nuclear Force along with particles and the energy tied into the Strong Nuclear Force along with particles resists movement as the energy bound into the Strong Nuclear Force and particles has to be moved with the object. Now relative mass is the amount of energy that is gained upon relative movement on the particle or mass, basically as an object moves some of its energy is converted to relative Mass, which also impedes movement. it seems that particles and the Strong Nuclear Force consume more energy to be stable as movement occurs.

 

I'm far from an expert on the topic, Vic, but my understanding it that the whole concept of "relativistic mass" has been largely discredited and abandoned by modern physics.

 

But, that aside, your comments strike me as largely conclusory, rather than explanatory.



#5 GAHD

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 05:11 AM



#6 Moronium

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 05:14 AM

Mass is the measure of matter and matter is what stuff is made of.

Next question! :googleit:

 

Heh, a nice "pat" answer which makes it all sound quite simple.

 

You make a reference to google--anything in particular that you have in mind,, Popeye?

 

Here's the first sentence of wiki's entry on "mass."

 

 Mass is both a property of a physical body and a measure of its resistance to acceleration (a change in its state of motion) when a net force is applied.

 

 

According to them, mass is a "property" of a physical body.  What is this "property," exactly?

 

Later in the article it says:

 

In theoretical physics, a mass generation mechanism is a theory which attempts to explain the origin of mass from the most fundamental laws of physics. To date, a number of different models have been proposed which advocate different views of the origin of mass. The problem is complicated by the fact that the notion of mass is strongly related to the gravitational interaction but a theory of the latter has not been yet reconciled with the currently popular model of particle physics, known as the Standard Model.

 

 

Doesn't make it sound all that "pat," know what I'm sayin?

 

When a kid asks "why," the answer "because I said so" is generally sufficient for him.   But we aint all kids.


Edited by Moronium, 11 April 2019 - 07:02 AM.


#7 Moronium

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 06:13 AM

 

I'll be the first to admit that all this talk about a "Higgs field" and a "symmetry-breaking" Higgs boson (a supposed "particle") which renders other particles "massless" is way over my head.

 

At bottom, it just seems to be saying that the "laws of physics" don't really apply after all.  Where does that leave us?

 

In a roundabout way, this kinda goes back to my sense that "balancing" concepts like potential energy and mass are perhaps useful, but fictitious and circular.  The implication of the Higgs thinking seems to be that "symmetry" is unreliable and untrue.


Edited by Moronium, 11 April 2019 - 06:52 AM.


#8 Moronium

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 08:02 AM

First of all, what is mass, exactly?  By manipulating the F = MA formulation you find that mass boils down to "resistance to acceleration."  But that is a circular notion with no independent meaning. It seems like a fictitious bookkeeping notion that is invented just to make things "balance."  You need force and acceleration to give it any kind of meaning, but even then....I'll come back to this.

 

 

I'll come back to this now.

 

Mass is energy, and energy is "the ability to do work."  But it seems we need a "force" to make energy (mass) do any work. We need a force to generate acceleration, which mass will resist.  Why isn't the "force" the energy, instead of the "property" which tries to resist force?  It seems like the "force" is doing all the work here, not mass, see what I'm sayin?

 

Mass seems like a saboteur of work rather than the source of it.  It's only when these saboteurs get beat down that any work gets done.


Edited by Moronium, 11 April 2019 - 08:07 AM.


#9 ralfcis

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 08:29 AM

I'd love to join in but this discussion has gone so far off the rails so quickly, it would be intellectual suicide for me to join in at this point. You can thank me later for this completely unconstructive analysis. 



#10 Flummoxed

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 09:05 AM

I'll come back to this now.

 

Mass is energy, and energy is "the ability to do work."  But it seems we need a "force" to make energy (mass) do any work. We need a force to generate acceleration, which mass will resist.  Why isn't the "force" the energy, instead of the "property" which tries to resist force?  It seems like the "force" is doing all the work here, not mass, see what I'm sayin?

 

Mass seems like a saboteur of work rather than the source of it.  It's only when these saboteurs get beat down that any work gets done.

 

Mass and inertia were equivalent until Einstein piped up, here is a none complicated link from cern that might help https://cds.cern.ch/...les/0103008.pdf



#11 Moronium

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 09:30 AM

Mass and inertia were equivalent until Einstein piped up, here is a none complicated link from cern that might help https://cds.cern.ch/...les/0103008.pdf

 

Among other things, this paper says:

 

 

The end of 20-th century was marked by a great mish-mash of definitions of mass....All was clear in the beginning of the century when the theory of relativity was not yet created...

 

To emphasize the fact that inertial mass m depends on speed it is named relativistic mass: it appears to have different values from points of view of various observers if the observers have relative velocities. Meanwhile, there is a preferred value of inertial mass m0

 

...despite their speed is constant, their inertial mass appear to be different for various observers. However, in the case of such objects, no preferred value of inertial mass exists. Or, it is possible to say, the preferred value inertial mass is equal to zero.

 

No big surprise there, eh? The attempt to eliminate a preferred frame can do nothing other than create confusion and conceptual chaos while generating irresolvable inconsistencies and contradictions.

 

Special relativity, and its bastard progeny, straight-up ruined 20th century physics, I tells ya!

 

During much of the 20th century it was widely believed that one of the significant insights of special relativity was “relativistic mass.” Today there are two schools on that issue: the traditional view that embraces speed-dependent “relativistic mass,” and the more modern position that rejects it, maintaining that there is only one mass and it's speed-independent.

 

We show how the concept of speed-dependent mass mistakenly evolved out of a tangle of ideas...(Einstein never derived the expression for “relativistic mass,” and privately disapproved of it).

 

 

https://aapt.scitati....1119/1.3204111


Edited by Moronium, 11 April 2019 - 10:01 AM.


#12 fahrquad

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 09:55 AM

What is mass?  Does it really matter?



#13 Moronium

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 10:04 AM

What is mass?  Does it really matter?

 

Well, mass aint matter, so...

 

Apart from guzzling beer, eating BBQ chicken, and chasing women, aint nuthin that really matters, I figure.


Edited by Moronium, 11 April 2019 - 10:05 AM.


#14 OceanBreeze

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 10:18 AM

Heh, a nice "pat" answer which makes it all sound quite simple.

 

You make a reference to google--anything in particular that you have in mind,, Popeye?

 

Here's the first sentence of wiki's entry on "mass."

 

 

According to them, mass is a "property" of a physical body.  What is this "property," exactly?

 

Later in the article it says:

 

 

Doesn't make it sound all that "pat," know what I'm sayin?

 

When a kid asks "why," the answer "because I said so" is generally sufficient for him.   But we aint all kids.

 

 

In truth, the best definition of mass I have come across was in one of my Marine Engineer's study manuals, a long time ago, and I have not seen it improved on since:

 

"Mass is the quantity of matter possessed by a body and is proportional to the volume and the density of the body"

 

I realize it may not be up there with fancy definitions involving four-vectors and other esoteric and flowery definitions, but it has served me well and continues to serve me well. If you find it to be too pat for you, then get yourself one of those flowery ones!



#15 Moronium

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 10:30 AM

"Mass is the quantity of matter possessed by a body and is proportional to the volume and the density of the body"

 

I realize it may not be up there with fancy definitions involving four-vectors and other esoteric and flowery definitions, but it has served me well and continues to serve me well. If you find it to be too pat for you, then get yourself one of those flowery ones!

 

Well, Popeye, as I tried to make clear, but probably didn't, I'm not seeking a "definition" of mass.  I'm trying to make sense of the concept at a more fundamental level, and am seeking some understanding of what it is that we purport to be defining.


Edited by Moronium, 11 April 2019 - 10:33 AM.


#16 ralfcis

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 10:35 AM

Mass is not just matter, it's both energy and matter. Energy is mass even though it's made up of massless particles. E=mc2 doesn't convert energy to matter, it equates energy mass to matter mass. It wasn't even designed to do that, it was originally about converting kinetic energy into potential energy if a particle didn't move and just absorbed the energy it's mass (energy not matter) would increase. When you accelerate a particle, you're just adding energy mass to the matter which doesn't increase at all.  E=mc2 is an analogue formula that fails miserably in the digital quantum world of true energy to mass conversion. You can't convert any amount of energy into half a proton. This crap is all Einstein's fault.



#17 OceanBreeze

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 10:57 AM

Well, Popeye, as I tried to make clear, but probably didn't, I'm not seeking a "definition" of mass.  I'm trying to make sense of the concept at a more fundamental level, and am seeking some understanding of what it is that we purport to be defining.

 

That is what I tried to give you. There is no perfect definition. I gave you the one which works well for me.

 

Here it is in a slightly different form:

 

What measures the amount of matter in an object?
The amount of matter that an object contains is its mass . In relation to physics, mass is a property which determines the body's resistance to being accelerated by a force, and the strength of its mutual gravitational attraction with other bodies. The SI unit of mass is the kilogram (kg).
 

Not everyone is going to agree but who can claim to have THE preferred definition?

Incidentally, this does not equate matter to mass, they are two separate concepts.

Another thing one can say is that mass is energy moving at less than the speed of light.

 

Anyway, I am not here to argue. I am just providing the definitions that work well for me. If someone has better, I am listening.