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A Photon of Mass

A Photon of Mass - Physics Forum

A Photon of Mass - Physics Forum. Discuss and ask physics questions, kinematics and other physics problems.

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Old 02-23-2004, 03:02 AM
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Default A Photon of Mass

In a 1948 letter to Lincoln Barnett, Einstein wrote; "It is not good to
introduce the concept of the mass M = m/(1-v2/c2)1/2 of a body for which
no clear definition can be given.(Photon of Mass)*
It is better to introduce no other mass than `the rest mass m.*
Instead of introducing M., it is better to mention the expression for
the momentum and energy of a body in motion." (Massless Photon)
The viewpoint above, emphasising the distinction between mass, momentum,
and energy, is certainly the modern view.* 55 years later, can
relativistic mass be laid to rest?

The energy inherent in a gram, or any other quantity of matter is
precisely the quantity of energy necessary to accelerate its mass to a
velocity equal to the velocity light by energy conversion.
This statement may be hotly disputed by some of your Earth students \who
have not yet learned to distinguish between matter and mass.

There are 2 types of mass, inertial mass, which is simply the property
of resistance to change in a state of motion, and the mass inherent in
matter, which we will call Newtonian mass because it includes all mass
which obeys the original laws laid down by Sir Isaac Newton.
The argument is to the effect that no mass can ever be accelerated to
the velocity of light since the mass would then be 'infinite' and
CONSENQUENTIONALY light, since the mass would then be 'infinite' and
consequently the energy required to produce the velocity would also be

The electron has mass only because it has electric charge. As we know,
when an electric charge is
accelerated in Space, a magnetic field is produced,at the expense of the
particle's total electrostatic charge, and energy is required to produce
this conversion.
The energy 'spent' in producing this field is said to be the 'mass' of
the electron, since it is the entire cause of its resistance to
acceleration. The greater the degree of acceleration, of course, the
more intense the field, and the greater the amount of energy required to
produce it.

So we say that the electron gains 'mass' with every increase in its
In actuality, for every increase in velocity, the electrostatic
condition decreases, and the magnetic condition increases, and at the
speed of light, all the elecrostatic condition of the electron has been
converted into a magnetic condition
If an electron could be accelerated to the velocity of light, it would
have acquired the maximum velocity with which energy can be propagated,
the conversion process completed.

It is obvious, therefore, that no amount of energy could further
accelerate this electron (with respect to its original reference point),
so it would be considered to have acquired the illusion of 'infinite'

From the formula relating relativistic mass to invariant mass, it
follows that the invariant mass of a photon must be zero, but its
relativistic mass need not be.*
The phrase "The rest mass of a photon is zero" might sound nonsensical
because the photon can never be at rest; but this is just a side effect
of the terminology, since by making this statement, we can bring photons
into the same mathematical formalism as the everyday particles that do
have rest mass.*

In modern physics texts, the term mass when unqualified means invariant
mass, and photons are said to be "massless", a photon of light
consisting of just momentum and pressure, and frequency.
The incorrectness of this assumption can be demonstrated simply by
pressing the button of a pocket laser pointer.

A beam of light will be produced which any physicist will agree has
mass, and magnetic pinch, and by very definition, moving at the velocity
of light.

Yet all the energy required is released by a small amount of chemical
change taking place within the cells of a battery


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