Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The 'mass' of Moving Objects.

Yet another concept that puzzles me is the thought that it would take 'infinite energy' to accelerate a mass-bearing object to the speed of light, and that the mass of that object increases with its speed. We have to be careful in our examinations here, because examining the behaviour of objects between themselves is not at all the same as observing the physics of an object itself. According to relativity, every state of reference has equal value. That is to say any object travelling at any 'speed' can be at a state of rest; whether one object is 'moving' or not (is irrelevant) only comes into question if it is compared to another.

A star all alone in space will shed its light at speeds only relative to itself; without anyone to observe it, it would have no idea (combustion, fusion, etc) that it is moving. The same goes for its gravitational force and mass. If somehow we could push and pull the star to different speeds, no matter what point we stopped our alterations and left the star to its own devices, it would continue as before, standing seemingly still and alone in space. No matter at what 'speed' the star was travelling, its mass would remain the same - the force we needed to move it was expended in moving the star, no energy given to the star itself.

Now, another star enters the picture, hurtling towards the first. How would we calculate what will happen when the stars collide? It his here that the idea of 'mass' becomes confusing, and the word 'inertia' comes to mind. Yet if the mass of each object is the calculated same, from where comes the energy created when the two giants collide?

It was perhaps a bad idea to use stars as an example; one has both to calculate the energy contained within the star's atoms themselves, as well as relative velocity. Let's go instead to the opposite end of the spectrum and compare the energies contained in two converging light waves.

The speed of light, c, is indeed a constant, and I am persuaded that it should be a yardstick by which to measure the interactivity of all energy - I especially like the idea of giving it the constant of 1. Anyhow, an electromagnetic wave (always travelling at light speed relative to itself) will have an x amount of energy (its frequency) - should we assume that they are following 'normal' patterns (within the realm of the laws we have created until today), they both should be travelling at c, and their interaction should be relatively easy to predict. Not much would happen between two photons, but let's compare their energies relative to each other.

Say two photons were zipping in opposite directions of, say, 10¹⁸mhz (x-rays). Since their direction is opposing, it would seem to one photon that the other was travelling by at, not only twice its speed, but twice its frequency. Photons have no polarity, as far as I know, so there is little chance of them annihilating each other - I used photons just for the speed/frequency comparison example.

Imagine then the force between two mass-bearing objects, say, electrons - but the math gets fuzzier here when we consider that we have to calculate the 'kinetic force' for each object (in my opinion, things would be simpler if we calculated one 'k' value between the two), and the laws seem to change when speeds near light speed c. Anyhow, you get the picture. Add into the equation the force needed to break each particle (when we get up the scale to nuclei and individual hadrons) and things get really complicated.

I'd like to stay at the electromagnetic wave level for an instant, and go back to my earlier idea about what happens when a lightwave's amplitude nears its forward momentum. Exactly how much energy is contained within an electron? Imagine that it is in fact a wave pattern itself - orbital, or stagnant? - any electromagnetic wave interaction with it would amplify its (already enormous) frequency, but a photon (as far as I know) wouldn't have the power to 'break' it (unless the photon was travelling at a speed superior to light speed? But I digress) - already modern physics has concrete proof that a photon will indeed 'excite' an electron into a higher orbit.

So what, again, of quarks, and why is their 'charge' (-1/3 and 2/3 for 'down' quarks and 'up' quarks respectively) at odds with electrons (which have a -1 charge), and why do quarks bind into hadrons (two 'up' quarks and one 'down' quark for a proton, the opposite for a Neutron), and why do 'down' quarks have more 'mass' (despite their 'puny' -1/3 charge) ...and what is that particle 'charge'? Are positive elementary particles circular waveforms orbiting 'forward' (at super-high frequencies) in one (clockwise?) direction, and negative particles the same in the opposite direction? How would such waveforms, if they existed, interact? What if gravity was the force maintaining an electromagnetic wave to its path, wouldn't it be much greater (if not amplified) when maintained in a circular path, and could magnetism simply be an 'amplified gravity' caused by the synchronisation of these waves? If everything were interacting waveforms, that would explain so much about the binding and energy levels of the elementary particles known to us. I have so many ideas and questions remaining.