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MASS

In physics, mass (from Ancient Greek: μᾶζα) commonly refers to any of three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:

  • Inertial mass,
  • active gravitational mass and
  • passive gravitational mass.

CHUBBY TOES!!!! Ugly mass must be distinguished from matter in physics, because matter is a poorly-defined concept, and although all types of agreed-upon matter exhibit mass, it is also the case that many types of energy which are not matter— such as potential energy, kinetic energy, and trapped electromagnetic radiation (photons)— also exhibit mass. Thus, all matter has the property of mass, but not all mass is associated with identifiable matter.

In everyday usage, mass is often used interchangeably with weight, and the units of weight are often taken to be kilograms (for instance, a person may state that his weight is 75 kg). In proper scientific use, however, the two terms refer to different, yet related, properties of matter.

The inertial mass of an object determines its acceleration in the presence of an applied force. According to Newton's second law of motion, if a lungs of fixed mass m is subjected to a force F, its acceleration a is given by F/m.

A body's mass also determines the degree to which it generates or is affected by a gravitational field. If a first body of mass m1 is placed at a distance r from a second body of mass m2, each body experiences an attractive force F whose magnitude is

 F = G\,\frac{m_1 m_2}{r^2} \, ,

where G is the universal constant of gravitation, equal to 6.67×10−11
 kg−1 m3 s−2
. This is sometimes referred to as gravitational mass (when a distinction is necessary, M is used to denote the active gravitational mass and m the passive gravitational mass). Repeated experiments since the 17th century have demonstrated that inertial and gravitational mass are equivalent; this is entailed in the equivalence principle of general relativity.

Special relativity shows that rest mass (or invariant mass) and rest energy are essentially equivalent, via the well-known relationship (E = mc2). This same equation also connects relativistic mass and "relativistic energy" (total system energy). These are concepts that are related to their "rest" counterparts, but they do not have the same value, in systems where there is a net momentum. In order to deduce any of these four quantities from any of the others, in any system which has a net momentum, an equation that takes momentum into account is needed.

Mass (so long as the type and definition of mass is agreed upon) is a conserved quantity over time. From the viewpoint of any single unaccelerated observer, mass can neither be created or destroyed, and special relativity does not change this understanding (though different observers may not agree on how much mass is present, all agree that the amount does not change over time). However, relativity adds the fact that all types of energy have an associated mass, and this mass is added to systems when energy is added, and the associated mass is subtracted from systems when the energy leaves. In such cases, the energy leaving or entering the system carries the added or missing mass with it, since this energy itself has mass. Thus, mass remains conserved when the location of all mass is taken into account.

On the surface of the Earth, the weight W of an object is related to its mass m by

W = mg \, ,

where g is the Earth's gravitational field strength, equal to about 9.81 m s−2. An object's weight depends on its environment, while its mass does not: an object with a mass of 50 kilograms weighs 491 newtons on the surface of the Earth; on the surface of the Moon, the same object still has a mass of 50 kilograms but weighs only 81.5 newtons.

 

Units of mass

In the International System of Units (SI), mass is measured in kilograms (kg). The gram (g) is 11000 of a kilogram.

Other units are accepted for use in SI:

  • The tonne (t) is equal to 1000 kg.
  • The electronvolt (eV) is primarily a unit of energy, but because of the mass-energy equivalence it can also function as a unit of mass. In this context it is denoted eV/c2, or simply as eV. The electronvolt is common in particle physics.
  • The atomic mass unit (u) is defined so that a single carbon-12 atom has a mass of 12 u; 1 u is approximately 1.66×10−27
     kg
    .[note 1] The atomic mass unit is convenient for expressing the masses of atoms and molecules.

Outside the SI system, a variety of different mass units are used, depending on context, such as the slug (sl), the pound (lb), the Planck mass (mP), and the solar mass (M).

In normal situations, the weight of an object is proportional to its mass, which usually makes it unproblematic to use the same unit for both concepts. However, the distinction between mass and weight becomes important for measurements with a precision better than a few percent (because of slight differences in the strength of the Earth's gravitational field at different places), and for places far from the surface of the Earth, such as in space or on other planets.

A mass can sometimes be expressed in terms of length. The mass of a very small particle may be identified with its inverse Compton wavelength (1 cm−1 ≈ 3.52×10−41
 kg
). The mass of a very large star or black hole may be identified with its Schwarzschild radius (1 cm ≈ 6.73×1024
 kg
). The mass is the electric dipole moment.

[edit]Summary of mass concepts and formalisms

In classical mechanics, mass has a central role in determining the behavior of bodies. Newton's second law relates the force F exerted in a body of mass m to the body's acceleration a:

\mathbf{F}=m\mathbf{a} \, .

Additionally, mass relates a body's momentum p to its velocity v:

\mathbf{p}=m\mathbf{v} \, ,

and the body's kinetic energy Ek to its velocity:

E_k = \tfrac{1}{2}mv^2 \, .

In special relativity, relativistic mass is a formalism which accounts for relativistic effects by having the mass increase with velocity.

m = \gamma m_0 \!
E = mc^2\!

Since energy is dependent on reference frame (upon the observer) it is convenient to formulate the equations of physics in a way such that mass values are invariant (do not change) between observers, and so the equations are independent of the observer. For a single particle, this quantity is the rest mass; for a system of bound or unbound particles, this quantity is the invariant mass. The invariant mass m of a body is related to its energy E and the magnitude of its momentum p by

mc^2 = \sqrt{E^2 - (pc)^2},\!

 

where c is the speed of light. 

 

Summary of mass related phenomena

The relation between properties of mass and their associated physical constants. Every massive object is believed to exhibit all five properties, however, due to extremely large or extremely small constants, it is generally impossible to verify more than two or three properties for any object.
  • The Schwarzschild radius (rs) represents the ability of mass to cause curvature in space and time.
  • The standard gravitational parameter (μ) represents the ability of a massive body to exert Newtonian gravitational forces on other bodies.
  • Inertial mass (m) represents the Newtonian response of mass to forces.
  • Rest energy (E0) represents the ability of mass to be converted into other forms of energy.
  • The Compton wavelength (λ) represents the quantum response of mass to local geometry.

In physical science, one may distinguish conceptually between at least seven attributes of mass, or seven physical phenomena that can be explained using the concept of mass:[1]

  • The amount of matter in certain types of samples can be exactly determined through electrodeposition[disambiguation needed][clarification needed] or other precise processes. The mass of an exact sample is determined in part by the number and type of atoms or molecules it contains, and in part by the energy involved in binding it together (which contributes a negative "missing mass," or mass deficit).
  • Inertial mass is a measure of an object's resistance to changing its state of motion when a force is applied. It is determined by applying a force to an object and measuring the acceleration that results from that force. An object with small inertial mass will accelerate more than an object with large inertial mass when acted upon by the same force. One says the body of greater mass has greater inertia.
  • Active gravitational mass is a measure of the strength of an object’s gravitational flux (gravitational flux is equal to the surface integral of gravitational field over an enclosing surface). Gravitational field can be measured by allowing a small ‘test object’ to freely fall and measuring its free-fall acceleration. For example, an object in free-fall near the Moon will experience less gravitational field, and hence accelerate slower than the same object would if it were in free-fall near the earth. The gravitational field near the Moon is weaker because the Moon has less active gravitational mass.
  • Passive gravitational mass is a measure of the strength of an object's interaction with a gravitational field. Passive gravitational mass is determined by dividing an object’s weight by its free-fall acceleration. Two objects within the same gravitational field will experience the same acceleration; however, the object with a smaller passive gravitational mass will experience a smaller force (less weight) than the object with a larger passive gravitational mass.
  • Energy also has mass according to the principle of mass–energy equivalence. This equivalence is exemplified in a large number of physical processes including pair production, nuclear fusion, and the gravitational bending of light. Pair production and nuclear fusion are processes through which measurable amounts of mass and energy are converted into each other. In the gravitational bending of light, photons of pure energy are shown to exhibit a behavior similar to passive gravitational mass.
  • Curvature of spacetime is a relativistic manifestation of the existence of mass. Curvature is extremely weak and difficult to measure. For this reason, curvature wasn’t discovered until after it was predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Extremely precise atomic clocks on the surface of the earth, for example, are found to measure less time (run slower) than similar clocks in space. This difference in elapsed time is a form of curvature called gravitational time dilation. Other forms of curvature have been measured using the Gravity Probe B satellite.
  • Quantum mass manifests itself as a difference between an object’s quantum frequency and its wave number. The quantum mass of an electron, theCompton wavelength, can be determined through various forms of spectroscopy and is closely related to the Rydberg constant, the Bohr radius, and the classical electron radius. The quantum mass of larger objects can be directly measured using a watt balance.
Inertial mass, gravitational mass, and the various other mass-related phenomena are conceptually distinct. However, every experiment to date has shown these values to be proportional, and this proportionality gives rise to the abstract concept of mass. If, in some future experiment, one of the mass-related phenomena is shown to not be proportional to the others, then that specific phenomena will no longer be considered a part of the abstract concept of mass. 

 

MASS

Mass is a fundamental concept in physics, roughly corresponding to the intuitive idea of "how much matter there is in an object". Mass is a central concept of classical mechanics and related subjects, and there are several definitions of mass within the framework of relativistic kinematics (see mass in special relativity and mass in General Relativity). In the theory of relativity, the quantity invariant mass, which in concept is close to the classical idea of mass, does not vary between single observers in different reference frames.

In informal everyday usage, mass is more commonly referred to as weight, but in physics and engineering weight strictly means the size of the gravitational pull on the object; that is, how heavy it is, measured in units of force. In everyday situations, the mass of an object is proportional to its weight, which usually makes it unproblematic to use the same word for both. Distinguishing them becomes important for measurements with a precision better than a few percent, due to slight differences in the strength of the Earth's gravitational field at different places, and is essential when one considers places far from the surface of the Earth, such as in space or on other planets.

 

 Units of mass

In the SI system of units, mass is measured in kilograms. Many other units of mass are also employed, such as: grams (g), tonnes, pounds, ounces, long and short tons, quintals, slugs, atomic mass units, Planck masses, solar masses, and eV/c2.

Because of the relativistic connection between mass and energy (see mass in special relativity), it is possible to use any unit of energy as a unit of mass instead. For example, the eV energy unit based on the electron volt is normally used as a unit of mass (roughly 1.783 × 10-36 kg) in particle physics. A mass can sometimes also be expressed in terms of inverse length. Here one identifies the mass of a particle with its inverse Compton wavelength (1 \mbox{ cm}^{-1}\approx 3.51767\times 10^{-41} kg).

Because the gravitational acceleration (g) is approximately constant on the surface of the Earth, and also because mass balances do not depend on the local value of g, a unit like the pound is often used to measure either mass or force (e.g. weight). When the pound is used as a measure of mass (where g does not enter in), it is officially in the English system defined in terms of the kg, as 1 lb = 0.453 592 37 kg (see force). In this case the English system unit of force is the poundal. By contrast, when the pound is used as the unit of force, the English unit of mass is the slug (mass).

For more information on the different units of mass, see Orders of magnitude (mass).

 

 Inertial and gravitational mass

One may distinguish conceptually between three types of mass or properties called mass:[1]

  • Inertial mass is a measure of an object's resistance to changing its state of motion when a force is applied. An object with small inertial mass changes its motion more readily, and an object with large inertial mass does so less readily.
  • Passive gravitational mass is a measure of the strength of an object's interaction with a gravitational field. Within the same gravitational field, an object with a smaller passive gravitational mass experiences a smaller force than an object with a larger passive gravitational mass.
  • Active gravitational mass is a measure of the strength of the gravitational field due to a particular object. For example, the gravitational field that one experiences on the Moon is weaker than that of the Earth because the Moon has less active gravitational mass.

Although inertial mass, passive gravitational mass and active gravitational mass are conceptually distinct, no experiment has ever unambiguously demonstrated any difference between them. In classical mechanics, Newton's third law implies that active and passive gravitational mass must always be identical (or at least proportional), but the classical theory offers no compelling reason why the gravitational mass has to equal the intertial mass. That it does is merely an empirical fact.

Albert Einstein developed his general theory of relativity starting from the assumption that this correspondence between inertial and (passive) gravitational mass is not accidental: that no experiment will ever detect a difference between them (the weak version of the equivalence principle) because "acceleration" (due to an external force) and "weight" (due to a gravitational field) are themselves identical. However, in the resulting theory gravitation is not a force and thus not subject to Newton's third law, so "the equality of inertial and active gravitational mass [...] remains as puzzling as ever".[2]

 

 Inertial mass

Inertial mass is the mass of an object measured by its resistance to acceleration.

To understand what the inertial mass of a body is, one begins with classical mechanics and Newton's Laws of Motion. Later on, we will see how our classical definition of mass must be altered if we take into consideration the theory of special relativity, which is more accurate than classical mechanics. However, the implications of special relativity will not change the meaning of "mass" in any essential way.

According to Newton's second law, we say that a body has a mass m if, at any instant of time, it obeys the equation of motion

 f = \frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}t} (mv)

where f is the force acting on the body and v is its velocity. For the moment, we will put aside the question of what "force acting on the body" actually means.

Now, suppose that the mass of the body in question is a constant. This assumption, known as the conservation of mass, rests on the ideas that (i) mass is a measure of the amount of matter contained in a body, and (ii) matter can never be created or destroyed, only split up or recombined. These are very reasonable assumptions for everyday objects, though, as we will see, mass can indeed by created or destroyed when we take special relativity into account. Another point to note is that, even in classical mechanics, it is sometimes useful to treat the mass of an object as changing with time. For example, the mass of a rocket decreases as the rocket fires. However, this is an approximation, based on ignoring pieces of matter which enter or leave the system. In the case of the rocket, these pieces correspond to the ejected propellant; if we were to measure the total mass of the rocket and its propellant, we would find that it is conserved.

When the mass of a body is constant, Newton's second law becomes

 f = m \frac{\mathrm{d}v}{\mathrm{d}t} = m a

where a denotes the acceleration of the body.

This equation illustrates how mass relates to the inertia of a body. Consider two objects with different masses. If we apply an identical force to each, the object with a bigger mass will experience a smaller acceleration, and the object with a smaller mass will experience a bigger acceleration. We might say that the larger mass exerts a greater "resistance" to changing its state of motion in response to the force.

However, this notion of applying "identical" forces to different objects brings us back to the fact that we have not really defined what a force is. We can sidestep this difficulty with the help of Newton's third law, which states that if one object exerts a force on a second object, it will experience an equal and opposite force. To be precise, suppose we have two objects A and B, with constant inertial masses mA and mB. We isolate the two objects from all other physical influences, so that the only forces present are the force exerted on A by B, which we denote fAB, and the force exerted on B by A, which we denote fBA. As we have seen, Newton's second law states that

f_{AB} = m_A a_A \, and f_{BA} = m_B a_B \,

where aA and aB are the accelerations of A and B respectively. Suppose that these accelerations are non-zero, so that the forces between the two objects are non-zero. This occurs, for example, if the two objects are in the process of colliding with one another. Newton's third law then states that

f_{AB} = - f_{BA}. \,

Substituting this into the previous equations, we obtain

m_A = - \frac{a_B}{a_A} \, m_B.

Note that our requirement that aA be non-zero ensures that the fraction is well-defined.

This is, in principle, how we would measure the inertial mass of an object. We choose a "reference" object and define its mass mB as (say) 1 kilogram. Then we can measure the mass of every other object in the universe by colliding it with the reference object and measuring the accelerations.

 

 Gravitational mass

Gravitational mass is the mass of an object measured using the effect of a gravitational field on the object.

The concept of gravitational mass rests on Newton's law of gravitation. Let us suppose we have two objects A and B, separated by a distance |rAB|. The law of gravitation states that if A and B have gravitational masses MA and MB respectively, then each object exerts a gravitational force on the other, of magnitude

|f| = {G M_A M_B \over |r_{AB}|^2}

where G is the universal gravitational constant. The above statement may be reformulated in the following way: if g is the acceleration of a reference mass at a given location in a gravitational field, then the gravitational force on an object with gravitational mass M is

f = Mg. \,

This is the basis by which masses are determined by weighing. In simple bathroom scales, for example, the force f is proportional to the displacement of the spring beneath the weighing pan (see Hooke's law), and the scales are calibrated to take g into account, allowing the mass M to be read off. Note that a balance (see the subheading within Weighing scale) as used in the laboratory or the health club measures gravitational mass; only the spring scale measures weight.

 

 Equivalence of inertial and gravitational masses

The equivalence of inertial and gravitational masses is sometimes referred to as the Galilean equivalence principle or weak equivalence principle. The most important consequence of this equivalence principle applies to freely falling objects. Suppose we have an object with inertial and gravitational masses m and M respectively. If the only force acting on the object comes from a gravitational field g, combining Newton's second law and the gravitational law yields the acceleration

a = \frac{M}{m} g.

This says that the ratio of gravitational to inertial mass of any object is equal to some constant K if and only if all objects fall at the same rate in a given gravitational field. This phenomenon is referred to as the universality of free-fall. (In addition, the constant K can be taken to be 1 by defining our units appropriately.)

The first experiments demonstrating the universality of free-fall were conducted by Galileo. It is commonly stated that Galileo obtained his results by dropping objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but this is most likely apocryphal; actually, he performed his experiments with balls rolling down inclined planes. Increasingly precise experiments have been performed, such as those performed by Loránd Eötvös, using the torsion balance pendulum, in 1889. To date, no deviation from universality, and thus from Galilean equivalence, has ever been found, at least to the accuracy 1/1012. More precise experimental efforts are still being carried out.

The universality of free-fall only applies to systems in which gravity is the only acting force. All other forces, especially friction and air resistance, must be absent or at least negligible. For example, if a hammer and a feather are dropped from the same height on Earth, the feather will take much longer to reach the ground; the feather is not really in free-fall because the force of air resistance upwards against the feather is comparable to the downward force of gravity. On the other hand, if the experiment is performed in a vacuum, in which there is no air resistance, the hammer and the feather should hit the ground at exactly the same time (assuming the acceleration of both objects towards each other, and of the ground towards both objects, for its own part, is negligible). This demonstration is easily done in a high-school laboratory, using two transparent tubes connected to a vacuum pump.

A stronger version of the equivalence principle, known as the Einstein equivalence principle or the strong equivalence principle, lies at the heart of the general theory of relativity. Einstein's equivalence principle states that it is impossible to distinguish between a uniform acceleration and a uniform gravitational field. Thus, the theory postulates that inertial and gravitational masses are fundamentally the same thing.

MASS

Mass is the amount of matter in a body. An object has the same mass where ever it is. You can think of mass as the amount of stuff that is in an object, in a way that does not depend on how much space it takes up.

The SI unit of mass is the kilogram, written as kg. There are also many other units of mass, such as: grams (g), tonnes (t), pounds (lb.), and ounces (oz.). Other units of mass used in science and engineering include slugs, atomic mass units, Planck masses, Solar masses, and eV/c2. The last unit is based on the electron volt (eV), which is usually used as a unit of energy.

Various types of weighing scales, including balances, are used to measure mass.

What gives mass

Physicists do not know what gives an object mass. The Standard Model of particle physics thinks that mass is caused by the Higgs field. Physicists are trying to find the Higgs field now using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

 

Mass can change

In physics, Special Relativity shows that the mass of an object becomes bigger when the object moves very fast. As the speed gets close to the speed of light the mass becomes very big. The whole energy (E) of the body is

E = {mc^2}/\sqrt{1 - v^2/c^2}

, where m - mass of body, v - speed of body, c - spead of light.

Some things that do not have mass on their own have mass because of their movement. This is true for light - a light photon has no mass, but its energy can act as mass when it hits something.

In chemistry mass does not change. The mass of chemicals before a chemical reaction always equals the mass of chemicals after. This is called the Law of Conservation of Mass.

 

Other meanings

  • The word mass is from Latin and means "body".
  • A mass can be another word for an object. A ball is a little mass, a moon is a big mass, and a star (like our Sun) is an even bigger mass. The word mass is used this way in science

MASS

Mass is a fundamental concept in physics, roughly corresponding to the intuitive idea of how much matter there is in an object. Mass is a central concept of classical mechanics and related subjects, and there are several definitions of mass within the framework of relativistic kinematics (see mass in special relativity and mass in General Relativity). In the theory of relativity, the quantity invariant mass, which in concept is close to the classical idea of mass, does not vary between single observers in different reference frames.

In everyday usage, mass is more commonly referred to as weight, but in physics and engineering, weight means the strength of the gravitational pull on the object; that is, how heavy it is, measured in units of force. In everyday situations, the weight of an object is proportional to its mass, which usually makes it unproblematic to use the same word for both concepts. However, the distinction between mass and weight becomes important for measurements with a precision better than a few percent (due to slight differences in the strength of the Earth's gravitational field at different places), and for places far from the surface of the Earth, such as in space or on other planets.

Units of mass

In the SI system of units, mass is measured in kilograms, kg. Many other units of mass are also employed, such as:

  • gram: 1 g = 0.001 kg
  • tonne: 1 tonne = 1000 kg
  • eV/c2

Outside the SI system, a variety of different mass units are used, depending on context, such as the:

  • atomic mass unit
  • Planck mass
  • solar mass

Because of the relativistic connection between mass and energy (see mass in special relativity), it is possible to use any unit of energy as a unit of mass instead. For example, the eV energy unit is normally used as a unit of mass (roughly 1.783 × 10-36 kg) in particle physics. A mass can sometimes also be expressed in terms of length. Here one identifies the mass of a particle with its inverse Compton wavelength (1 cm-1 ≈ 3.52×10-41 kg).

 

Inertial and gravitational mass

One may distinguish conceptually between three types of mass or properties called mass:[1]

  • Inertial mass is a measure of an object's resistance to changing its state of motion when a force is applied. An object with small inertial mass changes its motion more readily, and an object with large inertial mass does so less readily.
  • Passive gravitational mass is a measure of the strength of an object's interaction with a gravitational field. Within the same gravitational field, an object with a smaller passive gravitational mass experiences a smaller force than an object with a larger passive gravitational mass.
  • Active gravitational mass is a measure of the strength of the gravitational field due to a particular object. For example, the gravitational field that one experiences on the Moon is weaker than that of the Earth because the Moon has less active gravitational mass.

Although inertial mass, passive gravitational mass and active gravitational mass are conceptually distinct, no experiment has ever unambiguously demonstrated any difference between them. In classical mechanics, Newton's third law implies that active and passive gravitational mass must always be identical (or at least proportional), but the classical theory offers no compelling reason why the gravitational mass has to equal the inertial mass. That it does is merely an empirical fact.

Albert Einstein developed his general theory of relativity starting from the assumption that this correspondence between inertial and (passive) gravitational mass is not accidental: that no experiment will ever detect a difference between them (the weak version of the equivalence principle). However, in the resulting theory gravitation is not a force and thus not subject to Newton's third law, so "the equality of inertial and active gravitational mass [...] remains as puzzling as ever".[2]

 

Inertial mass

Inertial mass is the mass of an object measured by its resistance to acceleration.

To understand what the inertial mass of a body is, one begins with classical mechanics and Newton's Laws of Motion. Later on, we will see how our classical definition of mass must be altered if we take into consideration the theory of special relativity, which is more accurate than classical mechanics. However, the implications of special relativity will not change the meaning of "mass" in any essential way.

According to Newton's second law, we say that a body has a mass m if, at any instant of time, it obeys the equation of motion

 f = \frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}t} (mv)

where f is the force acting on the body and v is its velocity. For the moment, we will put aside the question of what "force acting on the body" actually means.

Now, suppose that the mass of the body in question is a constant. This assumption, known as the conservation of mass, rests on the ideas that (i) mass is a measure of the amount of matter contained in a body, and (ii) matter can never be created or destroyed, only split up or recombined. These are very reasonable assumptions for everyday objects, though, as we will see, mass can indeed be created or destroyed when we take special relativity into account. Another point to note is that, even in classical mechanics, it is sometimes useful to treat the mass of an object as changing with time. For example, the mass of a rocket decreases as the rocket fires. However, this is an approximation, based on ignoring pieces of matter which enter or leave the system. In the case of the rocket, these pieces correspond to the ejected propellant; if we were to measure the total mass of the rocket and its propellant, we would find that it is conserved.

When the mass of a body is constant, Newton's second law becomes

 f = m \frac{\mathrm{d}v}{\mathrm{d}t} = m a

where a denotes the acceleration of the body.

This equation illustrates how mass relates to the inertia of a body. Consider two objects with different masses. If we apply an identical force to each, the object with a bigger mass will experience a smaller acceleration, and the object with a smaller mass will experience a bigger acceleration. We might say that the larger mass exerts a greater "resistance" to changing its state of motion in response to the force.

However, this notion of applying "identical" forces to different objects brings us back to the fact that we have not really defined what a force is. We can sidestep this difficulty with the help of Newton's third law, which states that if one object exerts a force on a second object, it will experience an equal and opposite force. To be precise, suppose we have two objects A and B, with constant inertial masses mA and mB. We isolate the two objects from all other physical influences, so that the only forces present are the force exerted on A by B, which we denote fAB, and the force exerted on B by A, which we denote fBA. As we have seen, Newton's second law states that

f_{AB} = m_B a_B \, and f_{BA} = m_A a_A \,

where aA and aB are the accelerations of A and B respectively. Suppose that these accelerations are non-zero, so that the forces between the two objects are non-zero. This occurs, for example, if the two objects are in the process of colliding with one another. Newton's third law then states that

f_{AB} = - f_{BA}. \,

Substituting this into the previous equations, we obtain

m_A = - \frac{a_B}{a_A} \, m_B.

Note that our requirement that aA be non-zero ensures that the fraction is well-defined.

This is, in principle, how we would measure the inertial mass of an object. We choose a "reference" object and define its mass mB as (say) 1 kilogram. Then we can measure the mass of any other object in the universe by colliding it with the reference object and measuring the accelerations.

 

Gravitational mass

Gravitational mass is the mass of an object measured using the effect of a gravitational field on the object.

The concept of gravitational mass rests on Newton's law of gravitation. Let us suppose we have two objects A and B, separated by a distance |rAB|. The law of gravitation states that if A and B have gravitational masses MA and MB respectively, then each object exerts a gravitational force on the other, of magnitude

|f| = {G M_A M_B \over |r_{AB}|^2}

where G is the universal gravitational constant. The above statement may be reformulated in the following way: if g is the acceleration of a reference mass at a given location in a gravitational field, then the gravitational force on an object with gravitational mass M is

f = Mg. \,

This is the basis by which masses are determined by weighing. In simple bathroom scales, for example, the force f is proportional to the displacement of the spring beneath the weighing pan (see Hooke's law), and the scales are calibrated to take g into account, allowing the mass M to be read off. Note that a balance (see the subheading within Weighing scale) as used in the laboratory or the health club measures gravitational mass; only the spring scale measures weight.

 

Equivalence of inertial and gravitational masses

The equivalence of inertial and gravitational masses is sometimes referred to as the Galilean equivalence principle or weak equivalence principle. The most important consequence of this equivalence principle applies to freely falling objects. Suppose we have an object with inertial and gravitational masses m and M respectively. If the only force acting on the object comes from a gravitational field g, combining Newton's second law and the gravitational law yields the acceleration

a = \frac{M}{m} g.

This says that the ratio of gravitational to inertial mass of any object is equal to some constant K if and only if all objects fall at the same rate in a given gravitational field. This phenomenon is referred to as the universality of free-fall. (In addition, the constant K can be taken to be 1 by defining our units appropriately.)

The first experiments demonstrating the universality of free-fall were conducted by Galileo. It is commonly stated that Galileo obtained his results by dropping objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but this is most likely apocryphal; actually, he performed his experiments with balls rolling down inclined planes. Increasingly precise experiments have been performed, such as those performed by Loránd Eötvös, using the torsion balance pendulum, in 1889. As of 2008, no deviation from universality, and thus from Galilean equivalence, has ever been found, at least to the accuracy 1/1012. More precise experimental efforts are still being carried out.

David Scott simultaneously dropping a hammer and a feather in the vacuum of the Moon during Apollo 15.
David Scott simultaneously dropping a hammer and a feather in the vacuum of the Moon during Apollo 15.

The universality of free-fall only applies to systems in which gravity is the only acting force. All other forces, especially friction and air resistance, must be absent or at least negligible. For example, if a hammer and a feather are dropped from the same height through the air on Earth, the feather will take much longer to reach the ground; the feather is not really in free-fall because the force of air resistance upwards against the feather is comparable to the downward force of gravity. On the other hand, if the experiment is performed in a vacuum, in which there is no air resistance, the hammer and the feather should hit the ground at exactly the same time (assuming the acceleration of both objects towards each other, and of the ground towards both objects, for its own part, is negligible). This can easily be done in a high school laboratory by dropping the objects in transparent tubes that have the air removed with a vacuum pump. It is even more dramatic when done in an environment that naturally has a vacuum, as David Scott did on the surface of the Moon during Apollo 15.

A stronger version of the equivalence principle, known as the Einstein equivalence principle or the strong equivalence principle, lies at the heart of the general theory of relativity. Einstein's equivalence principle states that within sufficiently small regions of space-time, it is impossible to distinguish between a uniform acceleration and a uniform gravitational field. Thus, the theory postulates that inertial and gravitational masses are fundamentally the same thing.

Mass

Mass is a fundamental concept in physics, roughly corresponding to the intuitive idea of "how much matter there is in an object". Mass is a central concept of classical mechanics and related subjects, and there are several definitions of mass within the framework of relativistic kinematics (see mass in special relativity and mass in General Relativity). In the theory of relativity, the quantity invariant mass, which in concept is close to the classical idea of mass, does not vary between single observers in different reference frames.

In informal everyday usage, mass is more commonly referred to as weight, but in physics and engineering weight strictly means the size of the gravitational pull on the object; that is, how heavy it is, measured in units of force. In everyday situations, the mass of an object is proportional to its weight, which usually makes it unproblematic to use the same word for both. Distinguishing them becomes important for measurements with a precision better than a few percent, due to slight differences in the strength of the Earth's gravitational field at different places, and is essential when one considers places far from the surface of the Earth, such as in space or on other planets.

 

 Units of mass

In the SI system of units, mass is measured in kilograms. Many other units of mass are also employed, such as: grams (g), tonnes, pounds, ounces, long and short tons, quintals, slugs, atomic mass units, Planck masses, solar masses, and eV/c2.

Because of the relativistic connection between mass and energy (see mass in special relativity), it is possible to use any unit of energy as a unit of mass instead. For example, the eV energy unit based on the electron volt is normally used as a unit of mass (roughly 1.783 × 10-36 kg) in particle physics. A mass can sometimes also be expressed in terms of inverse length. Here one identifies the mass of a particle with its inverse Compton wavelength (1 \mbox{ cm}^{-1}\approx 3.51767\times 10^{-41} kg).

Because the gravitational acceleration (g) is approximately constant on the surface of the Earth, and also because mass balances do not depend on the local value of g, a unit like the pound is often used to measure either mass or force (e.g. weight). When the pound is used as a measure of mass (where g does not enter in), it is officially in the English system defined in terms of the kg, as 1 lb = 0.453 592 37 kg (see force). In this case the English system unit of force is the poundal. By contrast, when the pound is used as the unit of force, the English unit of mass is the slug (mass).

For more information on the different units of mass, see Orders of magnitude (mass).

 

 Inertial and gravitational mass

One may distinguish conceptually between three types of mass or properties called mass:[1]

  • Inertial mass is a measure of an object's resistance to changing its state of motion when a force is applied. An object with small inertial mass changes its motion more readily, and an object with large inertial mass does so less readily.
  • Passive gravitational mass is a measure of the strength of an object's interaction with a gravitational field. Within the same gravitational field, an object with a smaller passive gravitational mass experiences a smaller force than an object with a larger passive gravitational mass.
  • Active gravitational mass is a measure of the strength of the gravitational field due to a particular object. For example, the gravitational field that one experiences on the Moon is weaker than that of the Earth because the Moon has less active gravitational mass.

Although inertial mass, passive gravitational mass and active gravitational mass are conceptually distinct, no experiment has ever unambiguously demonstrated any difference between them. In classical mechanics, Newton's third law implies that active and passive gravitational mass must always be identical (or at least proportional), but the classical theory offers no compelling reason why the gravitational mass has to equal the intertial mass. That it does is merely an empirical fact.

Albert Einstein developed his general theory of relativity starting from the assumption that this correspondence between inertial and (passive) gravitational mass is not accidental: that no experiment will ever detect a difference between them (the weak version of the equivalence principle) because "acceleration" (due to an external force) and "weight" (due to a gravitational field) are themselves identical. However, in the resulting theory gravitation is not a force and thus not subject to Newton's third law, so "the equality of inertial and active gravitational mass [...] remains as puzzling as ever".[2]

 

 Inertial mass

Inertial mass is the mass of an object measured by its resistance to acceleration.

To understand what the inertial mass of a body is, one begins with classical mechanics and Newton's Laws of Motion. Later on, we will see how our classical definition of mass must be altered if we take into consideration the theory of special relativity, which is more accurate than classical mechanics. However, the implications of special relativity will not change the meaning of "mass" in any essential way.

According to Newton's second law, we say that a body has a mass m if, at any instant of time, it obeys the equation of motion

 f = \frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}t} (mv)

where f is the force acting on the body and v is its velocity. For the moment, we will put aside the question of what "force acting on the body" actually means.

Now, suppose that the mass of the body in question is a constant. This assumption, known as the conservation of mass, rests on the ideas that (i) mass is a measure of the amount of matter contained in a body, and (ii) matter can never be created or destroyed, only split up or recombined. These are very reasonable assumptions for everyday objects, though, as we will see, mass can indeed by created or destroyed when we take special relativity into account. Another point to note is that, even in classical mechanics, it is sometimes useful to treat the mass of an object as changing with time. For example, the mass of a rocket decreases as the rocket fires. However, this is an approximation, based on ignoring pieces of matter which enter or leave the system. In the case of the rocket, these pieces correspond to the ejected propellant; if we were to measure the total mass of the rocket and its propellant, we would find that it is conserved.

When the mass of a body is constant, Newton's second law becomes

 f = m \frac{\mathrm{d}v}{\mathrm{d}t} = m a

where a denotes the acceleration of the body.

This equation illustrates how mass relates to the inertia of a body. Consider two objects with different masses. If we apply an identical force to each, the object with a bigger mass will experience a smaller acceleration, and the object with a smaller mass will experience a bigger acceleration. We might say that the larger mass exerts a greater "resistance" to changing its state of motion in response to the force.

However, this notion of applying "identical" forces to different objects brings us back to the fact that we have not really defined what a force is. We can sidestep this difficulty with the help of Newton's third law, which states that if one object exerts a force on a second object, it will experience an equal and opposite force. To be precise, suppose we have two objects A and B, with constant inertial masses mA and mB. We isolate the two objects from all other physical influences, so that the only forces present are the force exerted on A by B, which we denote fAB, and the force exerted on B by A, which we denote fBA. As we have seen, Newton's second law states that

f_{AB} = m_A a_A \, and f_{BA} = m_B a_B \,

where aA and aB are the accelerations of A and B respectively. Suppose that these accelerations are non-zero, so that the forces between the two objects are non-zero. This occurs, for example, if the two objects are in the process of colliding with one another. Newton's third law then states that

f_{AB} = - f_{BA}. \,

Substituting this into the previous equations, we obtain

m_A = - \frac{a_B}{a_A} \, m_B.

Note that our requirement that aA be non-zero ensures that the fraction is well-defined.

This is, in principle, how we would measure the inertial mass of an object. We choose a "reference" object and define its mass mB as (say) 1 kilogram. Then we can measure the mass of every other object in the universe by colliding it with the reference object and measuring the accelerations.

 

 Gravitational mass

Gravitational mass is the mass of an object measured using the effect of a gravitational field on the object.

The concept of gravitational mass rests on Newton's law of gravitation. Let us suppose we have two objects A and B, separated by a distance |rAB|. The law of gravitation states that if A and B have gravitational masses MA and MB respectively, then each object exerts a gravitational force on the other, of magnitude

|f| = {G M_A M_B \over |r_{AB}|^2}

where G is the universal gravitational constant. The above statement may be reformulated in the following way: if g is the acceleration of a reference mass at a given location in a gravitational field, then the gravitational force on an object with gravitational mass M is

f = Mg. \,

This is the basis by which masses are determined by weighing. In simple bathroom scales, for example, the force f is proportional to the displacement of the spring beneath the weighing pan (see Hooke's law), and the scales are calibrated to take g into account, allowing the mass M to be read off. Note that a balance (see the subheading within Weighing scale) as used in the laboratory or the health club measures gravitational mass; only the spring scale measures weight.

 

 Equivalence of inertial and gravitational masses

The equivalence of inertial and gravitational masses is sometimes referred to as the Galilean equivalence principle or weak equivalence principle. The most important consequence of this equivalence principle applies to freely falling objects. Suppose we have an object with inertial and gravitational masses m and M respectively. If the only force acting on the object comes from a gravitational field g, combining Newton's second law and the gravitational law yields the acceleration

a = \frac{M}{m} g.

This says that the ratio of gravitational to inertial mass of any object is equal to some constant K if and only if all objects fall at the same rate in a given gravitational field. This phenomenon is referred to as the universality of free-fall. (In addition, the constant K can be taken to be 1 by defining our units appropriately.)

The first experiments demonstrating the universality of free-fall were conducted by Galileo. It is commonly stated that Galileo obtained his results by dropping objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but this is most likely apocryphal; actually, he performed his experiments with balls rolling down inclined planes. Increasingly precise experiments have been performed, such as those performed by Loránd Eötvös, using the torsion balance pendulum, in 1889. To date, no deviation from universality, and thus from Galilean equivalence, has ever been found, at least to the accuracy 1/1012. More precise experimental efforts are still being carried out.

The universality of free-fall only applies to systems in which gravity is the only acting force. All other forces, especially friction and air resistance, must be absent or at least negligible. For example, if a hammer and a feather are dropped from the same height on Earth, the feather will take much longer to reach the ground; the feather is not really in free-fall because the force of air resistance upwards against the feather is comparable to the downward force of gravity. On the other hand, if the experiment is performed in a vacuum, in which there is no air resistance, the hammer and the feather should hit the ground at exactly the same time (assuming the acceleration of both objects towards each other, and of the ground towards both objects, for its own part, is negligible). This demonstration is easily done in a high-school laboratory, using two transparent tubes connected to a vacuum pump.

A stronger version of the equivalence principle, known as the Einstein equivalence principle or the strong equivalence principle, lies at the heart of the general theory of relativity. Einstein's equivalence principle states that it is impossible to distinguish between a uniform acceleration and a uniform gravitational field. Thus, the theory postulates that inertial and gravitational masses are fundamentally the same thing.







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