E=mc2

Albert Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 has been proven.

It’s taken more than a century, but Einstein’s celebrated formula e=mc2 has finally been corroborated, thanks to a heroic computational effort by French, German and Hungarian physicists.

A brainpower consortium led by Laurent Lellouch of France’s Centre for Theoretical Physics, using some of the world’s mightiest supercomputers, have set down the calculations for estimating the mass of protons and neutrons, the particles at the nucleus of atoms.

According to the conventional model of particle physics, protons and neutrons comprise smaller particles known as quarks, which in turn are bound by gluons. The odd thing is this: the mass of gluons is zero and the mass of quarks is only five percent. Where, therefore, is the missing 95 percent?

Beats me.

This is one of those pop-science thing that all of us are supposed to understand but few really do.  I “get” the science fiction applications but my understanding of subatomic particles is next to nil.   Of course, gluons were cutting edge science when I was learning that stuff.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. sam says:

    The e=mc2 formula shows that mass can be converted into energy, and energy can be converted into mass.

    Uh, I was under the impression that the first part was “proved” at Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945. As for the second, I think that was “proved” on September 28, 1987 (in first-run syndication).

  2. muffler says:

    Since E=MC(2) was a “theory” in the scientific sense (like evolution) it had sound basis in reproducible testing, but it has been successfully retested using newer information and re-evaluated successfully with that new information included. That is how science progresses humanity.

  3. sam says:

    Damn, I off on the second “proof”–the date was actually September 8, 1966 (on NBC).

  4. JKB says:

    For those keen to know more: the computations involve “envisioning space and time as part of a four-dimensional crystal lattice, with discrete points spaced along columns and rows.”

    Oh thank god, I thought it would be hard to understand.

    For me I’ll stick with the atomic level calculations, E-mc**2, I can do but the rest brings back that pain in my brain I got when I first took Intro to quantum mechanics back before quantum physics got all strange and quarky

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    The odd thing is this: the mass of gluons is zero and the mass of quarks is only five percent. Where, therefore, is the missing 95 percent?

    Right off the bat: I didn’t take it. For some reason or other when anything goes missing around our place I’m always the one who gets blamed but I can say with confidence that this time, at least, it wasn’t me.

  6. Bill H says:

    …gluons were cutting edge science when I was learning that stuff.

    I am ungodly old, then, because electrons were cutting edge when I was learning that stuff.

    Not to mention that noticing that the coasts of the American continents and the European continents looked like they could fit like a jigsaw puzzle was dismissed as a coincidence.

  7. Anderson says:

    It would help if the article weren’t so badly written:

    The odd thing is this: the mass of gluons is zero and the mass of quarks is only five percent. Where, therefore, is the missing 95 percent?

    Percent of what? I can infer that the answer is “percent of the masses of protons and neutrons” (which are fairly close to each other), but the article doesn’t trouble to explain that, which seems inexcusable in writing for the general public. The author doesn’t seem to grasp that “percent” is not a unit of measure, but a relative term.

  8. Bithead says:

    Talk radio is about entertainment and drama, not persuasion.

    Well James, YOU may know that, but I suspect quite a few folks don’t. Just read some of the posts in here.

    Counter: Look at the listnership numbers from Air America. Certainly, there was no shortage of drama on that network. Clearly, there’s some other motivation.

  9. sam says:

    Talk radio is about entertainment and drama, not persuasion.

    Well James, YOU may know that, but I suspect quite a few folks don’t. Just read some of the posts in here.

    Counter: Look at the listnership numbers from Air America. Certainly, there was no shortage of drama on that network. Clearly, there’s some other motivation.

    Schrödinger’s Bithead

  10. Drew says:

    “According to the conventional model of particle physics, protons and neutrons (are comprised of) smaller particles known as quarks, which in turn are bound by gluons. The odd thing is this: the mass of gluons is zero and the mass of quarks is only five percent. Where, therefore, is the missing 95 percent?”

    I didn’t see the article, but it appears to have been sloppily written. First, if I recall correctly, quarks are generally only 1% of the “mass,” with the balance found in gluons. And although gluons are “massless” in the Newtonian sense, they have energy, and so in fact comprise the balance of the “missing mass,” but with that “mass” being the defined in the general relativity sense.

    The guy mixed his definitions.

  11. anjin-san says:

    When is Bithead going to tell us that he once worked in quantum mechanics and he KNOWS physics?

  12. anjin-san says:

    Clearly, there’s some other motivation.

    Perhaps politically active people on the “left” are just too smart to fall for that kind of crap and prefer blogs, where there is at least an exchange of ideas and generally some level of actual thought going on.

    On the other side of the aisle, we have those who think the Turkey Terminator is America’s great hope. (Yesterday I really blessed my 20 years of vegetarian living).

  13. Bithead says:

    When is Bithead going to tell us that he once worked in quantum mechanics and he KNOWS physics?

    It’s like an addiction with you, isn’t it?

    Perhaps politically active people on the “left” are just too smart to fall for that kind of crap and prefer blogs, where there is at least an exchange of ideas and generally some level of actual thought going on.

    You seem to forget; I read leftie blogs too… and in many years of doing so, I have yet to see any evidence of thought process among them.

    By the way, James; the comment from me about Air America, etc was supposed to end up in the thread next door. I’ve no idea what happened, there.

  14. Bithead says:

    (Yesterday I really blessed my 20 years of vegetarian living).

    MELBOURNE:
    Scientists have discovered that going veggie could be bad for your brain-with those on a meat-free diet six times more likely to suffer brain shrinkage.

    Vegans and vegetarians are the most likely to be deficient because the best sources of the vitamin are meat, particularly liver, milk and fish.

    Much is explained.

  15. anjin-san says:

    Much is explained.

    Its like an obsession with you 🙂

    Vegans and vegetarians are the most likely to be deficient because the best sources of the vitamin are meat, particularly liver, milk and fish.

    Being a vegeterian does require diet management to avoid vitamin defeciencies. Then there are these things you may not have heard of at the drug store called “vitamin tablets”.

    I do regard a vegan diet as unhealthy, animal fats are a requirement for good health.

    You seem to forget; I read leftie blogs too… and in many years of doing so, I have yet to see any evidence of thought process among them.

    The blind man in the land of the sighted. “what are these rainbows everyone keeps talking about”?

  16. Bithead says:

    Being a vegeterian does require diet management to avoid vitamin defeciencies. Then there are these things you may not have heard of at the drug store called “vitamin tablets”

    So very *natural*.

    I do regard a vegan diet as unhealthy, animal fats are a requirement for good health.

    Which would seem to fly in the face of your claim of being vegan.

  17. anjin-san says:

    Which would seem to fly in the face of your claim of being vegan.

    Ummm, Bitsy I never said I was a vegan, I said I am a vegetarian. Words mean things.

    So very *natural*.

    Is modern medicine “natural”? Nope. What’s your point?

    I don’t think being a vegetarian is a “natural” state of affairs for human beings, who after all evolved as carnivores. Being a vegetarian is an act of putting your intellect and morality above your instincts.

    “It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.”

    -Albert Einstein

    “I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”

    – Leonardo da Vinci

  18. Bithead says:

    The real tragedy is what they might have accomplished with a more balanced diet.

  19. Drew says:

    We interupt this food fight for a public service announcement:

    Proper liver function requires protein, generally not thought sufficient from non-meat sources.

    In addition, my condolences for missing all those fine steak dinners at Mortons.