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Re: I Have Always Heard Matter Can Neither Be Created Or Destroyed

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Posted by Rob Worrall/">Rob Worrall on October 5, 1998 13:56:29 UTC

: : : The law of conservation of mass as you have stated it is incomplete. It is: Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, only altered in form, or as Einstein would have it, converted to energy. And if you buy into modern day physics, matter never really pysically comes into contact with other matter. Since the primary methods of matter interacting with other matter are through electrostatic forces (charge) and this force increases (alot) as the distance between the charged particles decreases the atoms never really touch. For instance, when you sit on a chair, you are not really in physical contact with it. You are actually hoovering about an angstom over the surface of it. (But I'm no expert, just a physics student :) )

I'm no practicioner either, but I guess I concur with you Eric. Experimental physicists have discovered some mighty fine things about the structure and ingredients within the atomic nucleus, supporting some extremely sophisticated mathematical theory. However quickly the theory is advancing we've only just scraped the surface. its also pretty expensive conducting atom experiments at high energy or tossing rockets out to measure space. It does take an extraordinary amount of work to get below the electron shell!

My very shallow reading of the topic suggests that energy "manifests" itself in many ways, including as massive particles (i.e. matter). But then you've got to consider factors such as the wave-particle duality, the uncertainty principle and Shroedinger's cat - our experiments in bubble chambers showing the formation and annihilation of new matter may be due to the experiment and how we are observing - how we observe determines what we observe.

In a sense, matter can not interact with matter. Try and look at it as "an expression of energy interacting with another expression of energy".

Does this make sense to anyone else or am I barking up the wrong conceptual tree?

Just the other day I was idly pondering the nature of matter and mass over a coffee and croissant and wondered whether mass could be distinguished from other manifestations of energy by behaving exclusively on certain force fields (mainly gravity), that is, is the distinguishing feature of matter as a form of "congealed energy" (sorry, sounds a bit clumsy!) its capacity to centrally implode under gravity (before annihilating and re-expressing itself as, say, radiation or electro-magnetic light waves/photons (there's that darned duality again!)


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