Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: matter into energy

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 12/18/2012
Q:
when producing energy from atomic bomb, matter turns into energy, right ? how does this happen ? do particles collide ? , or it just reach light speed and then turn into energy ? and also if matter reached speed of light does it turn into energy ? or it must collide with something in order to turn into energy ? or is this only for nuclear reactions ?
- wasteland (age 19)
new york
A:
Some matter in forms with particular rest mass turns into other forms with slightly lower rest mass. The leftover energy (E=mc2) goes into the kinetic energy of the massive particles, such as the nuclei or some neutrons, and into energy of light rays.

The process you mention- things speeding up to the speed of light- doesn't ever happen. One reason is that if there's something with rest mass, it would take infinite energy to get it to the speed of light. Things divide up into two batches. Ones with rest mass never travel at the speed of light, and ones with zero rest mass (photons, gravitons, gluons) always travel at the speed of light.

Mike W.

(published on 12/18/2012)

Follow-up on this answer.