Piero Scaruffi(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"
Galileo “discovered” inertia: bodies that are at rest tend to remain at rest, and bodies that are moving tend to continue moving at the same speed in the same direction, unless a force is applied. Newton turned Galileo’s inertia into a quantitative property of matter: mass. Newton showed that mass was the object of forces, and the effect of forces on mass was to accelerate it. Forces and accelerations were visible entities. Mass was an invisible property of matter.
Newton’s mass was three things in one: it was resistance to acceleration, it was the ability of attracting other masses, and it was the propensity to be attracted by other masses. Einstein introduced “rest” mass, an aspect of energy, expressed by the equation E=mc2. Einstein also showed that things that possess “mass” cannot travel faster than the speed of light, a speed that is reserved for things that do not possess mass (such as the photon).
Quantum Mechanics showed that “mass” is indeed a property of every elementary particle, but introduced another oddity: while there is an anti-particle for every particle (electrical charge can be positive or negative), both a particle and its anti-particle have the same (positive) mass. Mass is only positive, never negative. In fact, in 1957 British physicist Hermann Bondi showed that the encounter between a mass and its anti-mass would result in infinite acceleration, with no need for a source of energy: the negative mass would be attracted to the positive mass, while the positive mass would be repelled by the negative mass. Thus the two masses would experience equal accelerations in the same direction, in violation of Newton's third law, and continue to accelerate forever, (the negative mass chasing the positive mass and the positive mass fleeing from the negative mass with constant acceleration).
Neither Relativity nor Quantum Theory explained what “mass” is (where it comes from) and what causes its odd properties. They both took it for granted that Nature is that way. It was the odd behavior of “mass” that allowed physicists to create an elegant world. But the elegance was mostly based on an abstract, arbitrary, “catch all” definition.
Back to the beginning of the chapter "The New Physics" | Back to the index of all chapters