WHAT IS MASS ?
Simple. There are only 3 kinds of mass:
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 entirely 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.
Why Particles Have Mass ?
In quantum physics we have de Broglie’s wave–particle duality. So, let’s change our perspective, and instead of conceptualising matter as made of particles, let’s look at it as being composed of waves. Do waves have mass? Well, they do have energy.
The description of physical reality in terms of fields?
Due to our peculiar human sensory perception, we never see any waves of energy. Not true? We see water waves? We only see waves on water caused by waves of energy.
Due to our peculiar human sensory perception, we see waves of energy as solid “matter”, but we never see solid matter as waves of energy. That is the reason why it is only natural for us to use the perceptual “particle” metaphor of de Broglie’s wave–particle duality. And here, I feel deeply convinced, we all owe huge credit to Albert Einstein for his another genius suggestion expressed in his short paper, MAXWELL’S INFLUENCE ON THE EVOLUTION OF THE IDEA OF PHYSICAL REALITY (on the 100th anniversary of Maxwell’s birth), published in: James Clerk Maxwell: A Commemoration Volume, Cambridge University Press 1931, that I am certain it is only in order to quote here in its entirety. This is Albert Einstein at his best, the Philosopher-Scientist:
MAXWELL’S INFLUENCE ON THE EVOLUTION OF THE IDEA OF PHYSICAL REALITY
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.
To quote Einstein from the above MAXWELL’S INFLUENCE ON THE EVOLUTION OF THE IDEA OF PHYSICAL REALITY:
“ 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. After Maxwell they conceived physical reality as represented by continuous fields, not mechanically explicable. The conception of the electromagnetic field as an ultimate entity had been generally accepted, and serious thinkers had abandoned the belief in 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 in terms of field theory. 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. ”
In the light of the above wisdom, let’s ask: What if mass of elementary particle, or of a body of matter, would always be simply defined as its total combined energy divided by the square of the speed of light, i.e. there is nothing else to “mass” other than the total combined energy?
But since we want to change our perspective, and instead of conceptualizing matter as made of particles, look at it as being composed of waves, and waves have no mass, then we need to answer the question: How such “mass” seems to be localised in this picture? If everything is made of waves, and waves neither have mass, nor are they local, then in such a picture, what would be this “mass” that seems to be localised?
“ A fundamental question arises: What exactly is the quantum character of light? What actually is a photon? Concerning the question, that much is clear to the University of Konstanz physicists: instead of a quantized packet of energy, photon is rather a measure for the local quantum statistics of electromagnetic fields.”
Perhaps, such “mass” could be a result of particular interactions among all, or some of all the various waves spanning the Universe, being, in the most general sense, something like a local interference pattern ?
Perhaps even an interference pattern of a holographic nature?
Quantum Gravity and the Holographic Mass https://resonance.is/quantum-gravity-holographic-mass/
That would bear close resemblance to the idea of the Higgs field, where the mass of an elementary particle is not its inherent property, but rather a result of its interaction with the Higgs field.
” The present systems of physics, which have been evolved since Maxwell, represent compromises between the two schemes of waves and particles, which for that very reason bear a provisional, logically incomplete character.”
In order to explain the existence of mass of elementary particles, suddenly we need a field! Not only do we need a field, but we need the Higgs field which existence, until recently, was neither needed, nor discovered. Indeed, Higgs field clearly seems to have a provisional and logically incomplete character, as opposed to my postulate.
The most important implication of this postulate would be that such “mass”, neither being an inherent property of matter, nor depending on some additional, specialized field that perfectly and homogeneously fills the entire Universe in addition to everything else in it, could be increased, decreased, completely nullified, or even made “negative”, as a result of physically influencing the “interference pattern” that constitute it.
” Until now, negative matter has not been found to exist in natural form. However, since E=mc², negative matter may be created in a laboratory using negative energies. Previous studies showed that effective negative inertia exists for neutrons and also for electrons in short transient time intervals. We present two possibilities to create stationary, charged negative effective masses that could be used to test self-propulsion effect. It is based on the assumption that Weber’s electrodynamics is correct predicting a negative mass regime for electrons inside a highly charged dielectric sphere. The other possibility is using asymmetric charge distributions that could be realized using electrets. With proper geometry and charge densities, negative mass regimes are derived, which could lead to negative energies many orders of magnitude larger than those obtained from the Casimir effect. Based on these concepts, a negative matter ANTIGRAVITY PROPULSION could be realized in a laboratory environment.” — Propellantless Propulsion with Negative Matter Generated by Electric Charges
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by Professor Alfred Leitenstorfer has now shown how to manipulate the electric vacuum field and thus generate deviations from the ground state of empty space which can only be understood in the context of the quantum theory of light. With these results, the researchers from the field of ultrafast phenomena and photonics build on their earlier findings, published in October 2015 in the scientific journal “Science”, where they have demonstrated direct detection of signals from pure nothingness. This essential scientific progress might make it possible to solve problems that physicists have grappled with for a long time, ranging from a deeper understanding of the quantum nature of radiation to research on attractive material properties such as high-temperature superconductivity. The new results are published on 19 January 2017 in the current online issue of the scientific journal “Nature”: DOI: 10.1038/nature21024.
A world-leading optical measurement technique, developed by Alfred Leitenstorfer’s team, made this fundamental insight possible. A special laser system generates ultrashort light pulses that last only a few femtoseconds and are thus shorter than half a cycle of light in the investigated spectral range. One femtosecond corresponds to the millionth of a billionth of a second. The extreme sensitivity of the method enables detection of electromagnetic fluctuations even in the absence of intensity, that is, in complete darkness. Theoretically, the existence of these “vacuum fluctuations” follows from Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Alfred Leitenstorfer and his team succeeded in directly observing these fluctuations for the first time and in the mid-infrared frequency range, where even conventional approaches to quantum physics have not worked previously.
The conceptual novelty of the experiments is that instead of the frequency-domain techniques used so far, the physicists from Konstanz accessed quantum statistics of light directly in the time domain. At a chosen point in time, electric field amplitudes are directly measured instead of analysing light in a narrow frequency band. Studying different points in time results in characteristic noise patterns that allow for detailed conclusions about the temporal quantum state of light. As the laser pulse propagates together with the quantum field under study, the Konstanz physicists can, so to speak, bring time to a stop. Ultimately, space and time, that is “space-time”, behave absolutely equivalently in these experiments – an indication of the inherently relativistic nature of electromagnetic radiation.
As the new measurement technique neither has to absorb the photons to be measured nor amplify them, it is possible to directly detect the electromagnetic background noise of the vacuum and thus also the controlled deviations from this ground state, created by the researchers. “We can analyse quantum states without changing them in the first approximation”, says Alfred Leitenstorfer. The high stability of the Konstanz technology is an important factor for the quantum measurements, as the background noise of their ultrashort laser pulses is extremely low.
By manipulating the vacuum with strongly focused femtosecond pulses, the researchers come up with a new strategy to generate “squeezed light”, a highly nonclassical state of a radiation field. The speed of light in a certain segment of space-time is deliberately changed with an intense pulse of the femtosecond laser. This local modulation of the velocity of propagation “squeezes” the vacuum field, which is tantamount to a redistribution of vacuum fluctuations. Alfred Leitenstorfer compares this mechanism of quantum physics graphically with a traffic jam on the motorway: from a certain point on, some cars are going slower. As a result, traffic congestion sets in behind these cars, while the traffic density will decrease in front of that point. That means: when fluctuation amplitudes decrease in one place, they increase in another.
While the fluctuation amplitudes positively deviate from the vacuum noise at temporally increasing speed of light, a slowing down results in an astonishing phenomenon: the level of measured noise is lower than in the vacuum state – that is, the ground state of empty space.
The simple illustration with the traffic on a motorway, however, quickly reaches its limits: in contrast to this “classical physics” picture, where the number of cars remains constant, the noise amplitudes change completely differently with increasing acceleration and deceleration of space-time. In case of a moderate “squeezing”, the noise pattern is distributed around the vacuum level fairly symmetrically. With increasing intensity, however, the decrease inevitably saturates toward zero. The excess noise that is accumulated a few femtoseconds later, in contrast, increases non-linearly – a direct consequence of the Uncertainty Principle’s character as an algebraic product. This phenomenon can be equated with the generation of a highly nonclassical state of the light field, in which, for example, always two photons emerge simultaneously in the same volume of space and time.
The experiment conducted in Konstanz raises numerous new questions and promises exciting studies to come. Next, the physicists aim at understanding the fundamental limits of their sensitive detection method which leaves the quantum state seemingly intact. In principle, every experimental analysis of a quantum system would ultimately perturb its state. Currently, still a high number of individual measurements needs to be performed in order to obtain a result: 20 million repetitions per second. The physicists can not yet say with certainty whether it is a so-called “weak measurement” in conventional terms of quantum theory.
A fundamental question arises: What exactly is the quantum character of light? What actually is a photon? Concerning the question, that much is clear to the University of Konstanz physicists: instead of a quantized packet of energy, photon is rather a measure for the local quantum statistics of electromagnetic fields.
Original publication: C. Riek, P. Sulzer, M. Seeger, A.S. Moskalenko, G. Burkard, D.V. Seletskiy, A. Leitenstorfer: “Subcycle Quantum Electrodynamics”. Nature, Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1038/nature21024