Mass mystery

We shall then, I feel sure, have to return to the attempt to carry out the program which may be described properly as the Maxwellian — namely: the description of physical reality in terms of fields, which satisfy partial differential equations without singularities. — Albert Einstein

 

The origin of mass is one of the most intriguing mysteries of nature. What is it that makes one particle light and another heavy?

Some particles, such as the W boson (which carries the weak force) have so much mass they barely move, while others, like the photon, are etirely massless and zip around at the speed of light. The mass of fundamental particles – those that carry forces and build nuclei and atoms – is often explained by the way they move through the Higgs field that is thought to pervade all the space of the Universe. To some particles, such as the top quark, the Higgs field is like molasses: they get bogged down and become very heavy. To others, like the photon, the field is empty space: they fly through unimpeded and gain no weight at all.

 

In theoretical physics, a mass generation mechanism is a theory which attempts to explain the origin of mass from the most fundamental laws of physics. To date, a number of different models have been proposed which advocate different views of the origin of mass. The problem is complicated by the fact that the notion of mass is strongly related to the gravitational interaction, but a theory of the latter has not been yet reconciled with the currently popular model of particle physics, known as the Standard Model.

The concept of mass, with the concept of gravitational mass identified with the concept of inertial mass, is quantified and defined by gravitational phenomenology. Therefore, on purely logical grounds, the concept of mass so defined cannot then be used in the theories of physics as an explanation of the very phenomenology used to define and quantify it. — W.F. Heinrich,  QuantumGravity.ca

I could not agree more. But if you are not sure what the above statement means, let me give you its equivalent:

Why are material objects heavy (why they gravitate)? Because they have inertial mass. But how do we know that they have inertial mass? Because they gravitate (are heavy). What else could be fundamentally responsible for objects being heavy while subjected to Earth’s gravity, if not their intrinsic inertial mass? So, what exactly is inertial mass? Well, it is whatever makes objects heavy while they are subjected to Earth’s gravity. It must be something inside the nucleus of atoms.

There is no such inertial mass that could be experimentally detected as something separate from gravitational mass. Than maybe producing gravitational interaction does not require inertial mass? Maybe gravitational interaction is generated by other means than due to existence of inertial mass?

For example, in case of magnetic attraction, by analogy, we could say that it must be due to some magnetic mass, which is something separate from electric and magnetic energy of atoms inside a magnet. Then we would experimentally search for it and not be able to find it, because magnetic interaction simply isn’t due to existence of any magnetic mass that could be experimentally detected.

 

The 3 phenomena needed for an atom to produce quantum gravity are:

  1. atom needs to be spinning (angular momentum);
  2. atom needs to produce magnetic field (magnetic dipole moment);
  3. atom needs to be an electric capacitor (electric dipole moment).

The above 3 phenomena also need to be combined and oriented like in an atom, i.e. ideally, spin axis needs to be aligned with magnetic axis.

The first two of the above 3 phenomena are naturally obvious. The third one is also natural, but less obvious.

Although we know that atoms are composed of electrical charges, essentially forming tiny polarized electrical structures, we do not tend to think about massive material bodies, like planets, as composed of electrical structures, or of electrical capacitors.

The main implication of the above conjecture is that gravity does not result from mass. Well, it all depends on what mass really is.

The notion of inertial mass is historically pre-electromagnetic. At the time it was a perfectly reasonable and logical idea. We say that heavy elements in the periodic table are heavy,  because they have more protons and neutrons that are heavy. However, we can also say that heavy elements in the periodic table are heavy,  because they simply have more electric and magnetic energy concentrated (energy density) in the nucleus.

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DE-BROGLIE

bohr7

The mass of fundamental particles – those that carry forces and build nuclei and atoms – is often explained by the way they move through the Higgs field that is thought to pervade all the space of the Universe.

Amazing.  It seems that we have found the Aether at last, because now all the space of the Universe is finally filled with homogeneously distributed Higgs particles!

Unfortunately, as we already know, the Higgs mechanism is not able to explain the mass of neutrinos. And if the Higgs mechanism were to explain mass of all the other elementary particles, then it is not clear in virtue of what such mass could result in attractive gravity.

It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing, a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind. — Albert Einstein

Figure 30_08_02a

Because mass is equivalent to energy, then mass of an atom could be energies associated with its electric fields, magnetic fields, and angular momenta of all its constituent elementary particles as they combine into an atomic structure. For the discussion of the strong nuclear force, please see:

 

Even masses at rest have an energy inherent to them. You’ve learned about all types of energies, including mechanical energy, chemical energy, electrical energy, as well as kinetic energy. These are all energies inherent to moving or reacting objects, and these forms of energy can be used to do work, such as run an engine, power a light bulb, or grind grain into flour. But even plain, old, regular mass at rest has energy inherent to it: a tremendous amount of energy. This carries with it a tremendous implication: that gravitation, which works between any two masses in the Universe in Newton’s picture, should also work based off of energy, which is equivalent to mass.

 

In this work we demonstrate that there is only one “mass” that is a measure of energy of elementary particles in atoms. Such interpretation is consistent with Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence. We show that, in the classical limit, this energy will automatically appear in the equation of motion as an inertial mass.

 

Let’s take a look at an atom and at an antiatom (below). If we take electric dipole moment (green arrow) as a conceptual indicator, we will get the following picture:

b-b_vector

In case of an atom, the green arrow indicator points inward, indicating the fact that atoms of matter produce attractive gravity, and by analogy, in case of an antiatom, the green arrow indicator points outward, suggesting that antiatoms would produce repulsive gravity.

In this way, neither negative mass nor negative energy would be needed to produce antigravity. The factor that differentiate between gravity and antigravity is merely the direction of electric dipole moment in an atom, inward for gravity, or outward for antigravity.

If mass is to be a property of elementary particles, and particles can be waves of energy, then potential existence of negative mass would imply the existence of negative waves. How a negative wave could possibly look like?

But what if we juggle semantics, and instead of negative wave we say:  a wave of negative energy? All the same. What could be the difference between a wave of negative energy and a wave of positive energy? Wave of negative energy would still have to be simply another wave. Waves of negative energy would have to be akin to negative radiation and to negative temperature in Kelvin scale.

 

INERTIAL MASS AS AN UNFALSIFIABLE METAPHYSICAL ASSUMPTION 

The notion of inertial mass is historically pre-electromagnetic.

The energy of an atom is a combination of its electric energy, magnetic energy, and its angular momenta. There is no mass of an atom that is separate, and in addition to this energy, because there is no other energy in the atom. Therefore, this combination of atom’s electric energy, magnetic energy, and its angular momenta is its gravitational mass. Therefore there could be no inertial mass of an atom that is different from its gravitational mass, and therefore there is no need for inertial mass.

The letter “m” in F=ma represents inertial mass. This is Newton’s equation of motion. The problem with it is that, for example, a car standing motionless in a parking lot is still under the influence of gravity. Gravity is always everywhere, because there is matter in the Universe. Therefore we will never be able to detect the pure existence of inertial mass, because matter always produces gravity everywhere in the Universe.

The existence of inertial mass that could be somehow independent and different from atom’s electric, magnetic, and spin energy is merely a metaphysical assumption that could never be experimentally verified, even in principle.

On the other hand, gravitational mass is an obvious empirical fact. This gravitational mass must be equivalent to atom’s energy, and there is no other energy in the atom than its electric, magnetic, and spin energy. For the discussion of the strong nuclear force, please see:

The conclusion is that what we call gravitational “mass” is not a result of the existence of some metaphysical inertial mass, which seemingly inevitable existence was hallucinated in desperation along with that of the Aether, but is an exclusive result of atom’s energy, as per Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence, and this energy is a field, and field lines are naturally oriented, and directed. Therefore, based on relative orientations and directions, we will have attractive, or repulsive interactions between gravitational fields.

It would seem logical that for antimatter to antigravitate, it would have to have negative mass.

Does electron really have a negative electric charge?

No.  Because “minus” and “plus” are merely labels, like North and South of a magnetic dipole. There is really nothing southern about the South magnetic pole, and therefore there is nothing negative about electron’s electric charge. Historically, we could have equally well assigned the label “minus” to the proton.

So, what is the essential difference between electron’s and proton’s electric charges?

It is merely the direction in which their field lines are oriented.

We could have decided that the proton is an “outward” electric charge, and electron is an “inward” electric charge, with label  “o”  for proton, and with label  “i”  for electron. This would actually make much more sense than plus and minus labels, because what is really so negative (minus) about electron?

Nothing.  Exactly like there is nothing truly southern about the South magnetic pole.

If mass is to be a property of elementary particles, and particles can be waves of energy, then potential existence of negative mass would imply the existence of negative waves. How a negative wave could possibly look like?

But what if we juggle semantics, and instead of negative wave we say that negative mass is equivalent of a wave of negative energy? All the same. What could be the difference between a wave of negative energy and a wave of positive energy? Wave of negative energy would still have to be simply another wave. Waves of negative energy would have to be akin to negative radiation and to negative Kelvin temperature.

We could instead say that the North magnetic pole is a positive (+) pole, because the lines are directed outward from it, like from a proton.

Based on the direction of lines, all we can say is that the electron has an opposite charge to proton, and proton has an opposite charge to electron; and the North magnetic pole is an opposite pole relative to the South magnetic pole, and vice versa. Based on this empirical fact, there is electric or magnetic attraction or repulsion, i.e. attraction’s direction is opposite of repulsion’s direction.

For example, in case of magnetic attraction, by analogy, we could say that it must be due to some magnetic mass, which is something separate from electric energy. Then we would experimentally search for it and not be able to find it, because magnetic interaction simply isn’t due to existence of any magnetic mass that could be experimentally detected.

The notion of inertial mass is historically pre-electromagnetic. At the time it was a perfectly reasonable and logical idea. We say that heavy elements in the periodic table are heavy,  because they have more protons and neutrons that are heavy. However, we can also say that heavy elements in the periodic table are heavy,  because they simply have more electric and magnetic energy concentrated (energy density) in the nucleus.

Because there is no such thing as inertial mass, there is only attractive gravitational “mass” (energy), or the repulsive gravitational one. There is no need for negative mass, or for negative energy, and that is the reason why antimatter is called anti-matter, and not negative-matter. If you check the definition of the term “anti”, it is defined as: “opposed to;  against”.

What makes gravitational interaction attractive (positive?) or repulsive (negative?), is simply the orientation of electric dipole moment in an atom.

There is no need for inertial mass, and gravitational mass is simply a combination of atom’s electric energy, magnetic energy, and its angular momenta, and only in this sense gravity does not result from atom’s mass, because it results from atom’s energy, and this energy is a field, and field lines are naturally oriented, and directed. Therefore, based on relative orientations and directions, we will have attractive, or repulsive interactions between gravitational fields.

The physical nonexistence of inertial mass does not mean that there is no inertia, of course. For the same reason that gravity does not originate from inertial mass, the inertia does not stem from “inertial mass”, either.

In this work we demonstrate that there is only one “mass” that is a measure of energy of elementary particles in atoms. Such interpretation is consistent with Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence. We show that, in the classical limit, this energy will automatically appear in the equation of motion as an inertial mass. – Arxiv.org/…/0404044.pdf

 

einstein_1921

MAXWELL’S INFLUENCE ON THE EVOLUTION OF THE IDEA OF PHYSICAL REALITY

Published on the 100th anniversary of Maxwell’s birth in James Clerk Maxwell: A Commemoration Volume, Cambridge University Press 1931

The belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural science. Since, however, sense perception only gives information of this external world or of “physical reality” indirectly, we can only grasp the latter by speculative means. It follows from this that our notions of physical reality can never be final. We must always be ready to change these notions — that is to say, the axiomatic basis of physics — in order to do justice to perceived facts in the most perfect way logically. Actually a glance at the development of physics shows that it has undergone far — reaching changes in the course of time.

The greatest change in the axiomatic basis of physics — in other words, of our conception of the structure of reality — since Newton laid the foundation of theoretical physics was brought about by Faraday’s and Maxwell’s work on electromagnetic phenomena. We will try in what follows to make this clearer, keeping both earlier and later developments in sight. According to Newton’s system, physical reality is characterized by the concepts of space, time, material point, and force (reciprocal action of material points). Physical events, in Newton’s view, are to be regarded as the motions, governed by fixed laws, of material points in space. The material point is our only mode of representing reality when dealing with changes taking place in it, the solitary representative of the real, in so far as the real is capable of change. Perceptible bodies are obviously responsible for the concept of the material point; people conceived it as an analogue of mobile bodies, stripping these of the characteristics of extension, form, orientation in space, and all “inward” qualities, leaving only inertia and translation and adding the concept of force. The material bodies, which had led psychologically to our formation of the concept of the “material point,” had now themselves to be regarded as systems of material points. It should be noted that this theoretical scheme is in essence an atomistic and mechanistic one. All happenings were to be interpreted purely mechanically — that is to say, simply as motions of material points according to Newton’s law of motion.

The most unsatisfactory side of this system (apart from the difficulties involved in the concept of “absolute space” which have been raised once more quite recently) lay in its description of light, which Newton also conceived, in accordance with his system, as composed of material points. Even at that time the question, What in that case becomes of the material points of which light is composed, when the light is absorbed?, was already a burning one. Moreover, it is unsatisfactory in any case to introduce into the discussion material points of quite a different sort, which had to be postulated for the purpose of representing ponderable matter and light respectively. Later on, electrical corpuscles were added to these, making a third kind,’ again with completely different characteristics. It was, further, a fundamental weakness that the forces of reciprocal action, by which events are determined, had to be assumed hypothetically in a perfectly arbitrary way. Yet this conception of the real accomplished much: how came it that people felt themselves’ impelled to forsake it?

In order to put his system into mathematical form at all, Newton had to devise the concept of differential quotients and propound the laws of motion in the form of total differential equations — perhaps the greatest advance in thought that a single individual was ever privileged to make. Partial differential equations were not necessary for this purpose, nor did Newton make any systematic use of them; but they were necessary for the formulation of the mechanics of deformable bodies; this is connected with the fact that in these problems the question of how bodies are supposed to be constructed out of material points was of no importance to begin with.

Thus the partial differential equation entered theoretical physics as a handmaid, but has gradually become mistress. This began in the nineteenth century when the wave theory of light established itself under the pressure of observed fact. Light in empty space was explained as a matter of vibrations of the Aether, and it seemed idle at that stage, of course, to look upon the latter as a conglomeration of material points. Here for the first time the partial differential equation appeared as the natural expression of the primary realities of physics. In a particular department of theoretical physics the continuous field thus appeared side by side with the material point as the representative of physical reality. This dualism remains even today, disturbing as it must be to every orderly mind.

If the idea of physical reality had ceased to be purely atomic, it still remained for the time being purely mechanistic; people still tried to explain all events as the motion of inert masses; indeed no other way of looking at things seemed conceivable. Then came the great change, which will be associated for all time with the names of Faraday, Maxwell, and Hertz. The lion’s share in this revolution fell to Maxwell. He showed that the whole of what was then known about light and electromagnetic phenomena was expressed in his well known double system of differential equations, in which the electric and the magnetic fields appear as the dependent variables. Maxwell did, indeed, try to explain, or justify, these equations by the intellectual construction of a mechanical model.

But he made use of several such constructions at the same time and took none of them really seriously, so that the equations alone appeared as the essential thing and the field strengths as the ultimate entities, not to be reduced to anything else. By the turn of the century the conception of the electromagnetic field as an ultimate entity had been generally accepted and serious thinkers had abandoned the belief in the justification, or the possibility, of a mechanical explanation of Maxwell’s equations. Before long they were, on the contrary, actually trying to explain material points and their inertia on field theory lines with the help of Maxwell’s theory, an attempt which did not, however, meet with complete success.

Neglecting the important individual results which Maxwell’s life work produced in important departments of physics, and concentrating on the changes wrought by him in our conception of the nature of physical reality, we may say this: before Maxwell people conceived of physical reality — in so far as it is supposed to represent events in nature — as material points, whose changes consist exclusively of motions, which are subject to total differential equations. After Maxwell they conceived physical reality as represented by continuous fields, not mechanically explicable, which are subject to partial differential equations. This change in the conception of reality is the most profound and fruitful one that has come to physics since Newton; but it has at the same time to be admitted that the program has by no means been completely carried out yet. The successful systems of physics which have been evolved since rather represent compromises between these two schemes, which for that very reason bear a provisional, logically incomplete character, although they may have achieved great advances in certain particulars.

The first of these that calls for mention is Lorentz’s theory of electrons, in which the field and the electrical corpuscles appear side by side as elements of equal value for the comprehension of reality. Next come the special and general theories of relativity which, though based entirely on ideas connected with the field theory, have so far been unable to avoid the independent introduction of material points and total differential equations.

The last and most successful creation of theoretical physics, namely quantum mechanics, differs fundamentally from both the schemes which we will for the sake of brevity call the Newtonian and the Maxwellian. For the quantities which figure in its laws make no claim to describe physical reality itself, but only the probabilities of the occurrence of a physical reality that we have in view. Dirac, to whom, in my opinion, we owe the most perfect exposition, logically, of this theory, rightly points out that it would probably be difficult, for example, to give a theoretical description of a photon such as would give enough information to enable one to decide whether it will pass a polarizer placed (obliquely) in its way or not.

I am still inclined to the view that physicists will not in the long run content themselves with that sort of indirect description of the real, even if the theory can eventually be adapted to the postulate of general relativity in a satisfactory manner. We shall then, I feel sure, have to return to the attempt to carry out the program which may be described properly as the Maxwellian — namely: the description of physical reality in terms of fields, which satisfy partial differential equations without singularities.

Albert Einstein,  1931

 

Our earlier reflections on the nature of mass can be found here:

 

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