<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
  • Compute total energy of a relativistic object.
  • Compute the kinetic energy of a relativistic object.
  • Describe rest energy, and explain how it can be converted to other forms.
  • Explain why massive particles cannot reach C.
This photo shows the outside of the fusion reactor of the National Spherical Torus Experiment at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The reactor, which sits in a large room, is connected to numerous tubes and instruments.
The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) has a fusion reactor in which hydrogen isotopes undergo fusion to produce helium. In this process, a relatively small mass of fuel is converted into a large amount of energy. (credit: Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory)

A tokamak is a form of experimental fusion reactor, which can change mass to energy. Accomplishing this requires an understanding of relativistic energy. Nuclear reactors are proof of the conservation of relativistic energy.

Conservation of energy is one of the most important laws in physics. Not only does energy have many important forms, but each form can be converted to any other. We know that classically the total amount of energy in a system remains constant. Relativistically, energy is still conserved, provided its definition is altered to include the possibility of mass changing to energy, as in the reactions that occur within a nuclear reactor. Relativistic energy is intentionally defined so that it will be conserved in all inertial frames, just as is the case for relativistic momentum. As a consequence, we learn that several fundamental quantities are related in ways not known in classical physics. All of these relationships are verified by experiment and have fundamental consequences. The altered definition of energy contains some of the most fundamental and spectacular new insights into nature found in recent history.

Total energy and rest energy

The first postulate of relativity states that the laws of physics are the same in all inertial frames. Einstein showed that the law of conservation of energy is valid relativistically, if we define energy to include a relativistic factor.

Total energy

Total energy E size 12{E} {} is defined to be

E = γmc 2 , size 12{E= ital "γmc" rSup { size 8{2} } } {}

where m size 12{m} {} is mass, c size 12{c} {} is the speed of light, γ = 1 1 v 2 c 2 size 12{γ= { {1} over { sqrt {1 - { {v rSup { size 8{2} } } over {c rSup { size 8{2} } } } } } } } {} , and v size 12{v} {} is the velocity of the mass relative to an observer. There are many aspects of the total energy E size 12{E} {} that we will discuss—among them are how kinetic and potential energies are included in E size 12{E} {} , and how E size 12{E} {} is related to relativistic momentum. But first, note that at rest, total energy is not zero. Rather, when v = 0 size 12{v=0} {} , we have γ = 1 size 12{γ=1} {} , and an object has rest energy.

Rest energy

Rest energy is

E 0 = mc 2 .

This is the correct form of Einstein’s most famous equation, which for the first time showed that energy is related to the mass of an object at rest. For example, if energy is stored in the object, its rest mass increases. This also implies that mass can be destroyed to release energy. The implications of these first two equations regarding relativistic energy are so broad that they were not completely recognized for some years after Einstein published them in 1907, nor was the experimental proof that they are correct widely recognized at first. Einstein, it should be noted, did understand and describe the meanings and implications of his theory.

Questions & Answers

what is Andromeda
smart Reply
what is velocity
Fati Reply
displacement per unit time
Murlidhar
the ratec of displacement over time
Jamie
the rate of displacement over time
Jamie
the rate of displacement over time
Jamie
did you need it right now
Pathani
up to tomorrow
Santosh
i need a description and derivation of kinetic theory of gas
Santosh
pls the sum of change in kinetic and potential energy is always what ?
Faith
i need a description and derivation of kinetic theory of gas
Santosh
did you need it right now
Pathani
A few grains of table salt were put in a cup of cold water kept at constant temperature and left undisturbed. eventually all the water tasted salty. this is due to?
Faith Reply
Aunt Faith,please i am thinking the dissolution here from the word "solution" exposed the grains of salt to be dissolved in the water.Thankyou
Junior
dissolution please
Junior
Aunt Faith,please i am thinking the dissolution here from the word "solution" exposed the grains of salt to be dissolved in the water.Thankyou
Junior
it is either diffusion or osmosis. just confused
Faith
due to solvation....
Pathani
what is solvation pls
Faith
water molecule surround the salt molecules . solute solute attraction break in the same manner solvent solvent interaction also break. as a result solute and solvent attraction took place.
Pathani
okay thanks
Faith
my pleasure
Pathani
what is solvation pls
Faith
water act as a solvent and salt act as solute
Pathani
okay thanks
Faith
its ok
Pathani
due to solvation....
Pathani
water molecule surround the salt molecules . solute solute attraction break in the same manner solvent solvent interaction also break. as a result solute and solvent attraction took place.
Pathani
what is magnetism
Eze Reply
physical phenomena arising from force caused by magnets
Mohammad
is the phenomenon of attracting magnetic substance like iron, cobalt etc.
Faith
what is heat
John Reply
Heat is a form of energy where molecules move
saran
Can you please help me with some questions
Janet Reply
topic-- question
Salman
I know this is unrelated to physics, but how do I get the MCQs and essay to work. they arent clickable.
Jake Reply
20cm3 of 1mol/dm3 solution of a monobasic acid HA and 20cm3 of 1mol/dm3 solution of NaOH are mixed in a calorimeter and a temperature rise of 274K is observed. If the heat capacity of the calorimeter is 160J/K, calculate the enthalpy of neutralization of the acid.(SHCw=4.2J/g/K) Formula. (ms*cs+C)*T
Lilian Reply
why is a body moving at a constant speed able to accelerate
Lilian Reply
20cm3 of 1mol/dm3 solution of a monobasic acid HA and 20cm3 of 1mol/dm3 solution of NaOH are mixed in a calorimeter and a temperature rise of 274K is observed. If the heat capacity of the calorimeter is 160J/K, calculate the enthalpy of neutralization of the acid.(SHCw=4.2J/g/K) Formula. (ms*cs+C)*T
Lilian
because it changes only direction and the speed is kept constant
Justice
Why is the sky blue...?
Star Reply
It's filtered light from the 2 forms of radiation emitted from the sun. It's mainly filtered UV rays. There's a theory titled Scatter Theory that covers this topic
Mike
A heating coil of resistance 30π is connected to a 240v supply for 5min to boil a quantity of water in a vessel of heat capacity 200jk. If the initial temperature of water is 20°c and it specific heat capacity is 4200jkgk calculate the mass of water in a vessel
fasawe Reply
A thin equi convex lens is placed on a horizontal plane mirror and a pin held 20 cm vertically above the lens concise in position with its own image the space between the undersurface of d lens and the mirror is filled with water (refractive index =1•33)and then to concise with d image d pin has to
Azummiri Reply
Be raised until its distance from d lens is 27cm find d radius of curvature
Azummiri
what happens when a nuclear bomb and atom bomb bomb explode add the same time near each other
FlAsH Reply
A monkey throws a coconut straight upwards from a coconut tree with a velocity of 10 ms-1. The coconut tree is 30 m high. Calculate the maximum height of the coconut from the top of the coconut tree? Can someone answer my question
Fatinizzah Reply
v2 =u2 - 2gh 02 =10x10 - 2x9.8xh h = 100 ÷ 19.6 answer = 30 - h.
Ramonyai
why is the north side is always referring to n side of magnetic
sam Reply
Practice Key Terms 3

Get the best College physics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'College physics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask