Einstein’s theory of relativity, E=mc^2, is probably his most famous scientific work. The formula, published in 1905, relates energy of a particle to its mass. Namely, the formula states that a particle’s energy is equal to its mass times the speed of light (3×10^8 m/s) squared. Thus, energy can be converted into mass and mass into energy.
According to the messed-up world of particle physics, protons and neutrons comprise smaller particles known as quarks, which in turn are bound by gluons. These are all different subatomic particles. But something strange came up when scientists were calculating the masses of these particles. The mass of gluons is zero and the mass of quarks is 171,200 MeV/c2. This is infinitesimally small. So where is the rest of the mass, as the mass of protons and neutrons is approximately 1 atomic mass unit (amu), or 1.660538782(83)×10−27 kg. Where is the rest of the mass?
As Einstein predicted, the rest of this missing mass is balanced out by the energy of the movements and interactions between quarks and gluons.
This formula may be used to produce atomic weapons (releasing large amounts of energy from a small particle), but it has also given us new insights into the world of physics and our very being.
Tomorrow, I will post about the Clarksville Cave trip.