Energy is an odd concept, it is something that is neither here nor there yet has a profound impact on everything, both organic and inorganic. However, energy surrounds us in more ways than is commonly believed; it is possible that matter is only a form of energy. In fact, according to Albert Einstein, matter and energy are different forms of the same thing (“Do Antimatter and Matter Destroy Each Other?”). Through analyzing the superposition of bosons (particles without mass) and fermions (particles with mass), transformations between energy and matter, the creation of mass, and the mass of energy, the existence of what humans consider to be matter will be questioned.
Matter takes up space. According to the defining characteristics of matter and energy, matter can only be located in one location at any point in time while the superposition of energy is possible (Nave). Due to only being able to occupy one location, the phenomenon of two particles of mass occupying the same space would disprove that matter is different than energy (“What is Matter?”). When positrons (positively charged electrons) and electrons, which are both fermions, collide they undergo a process known as electron-positron annihilation (“Electron-Positron Annihilation”). The process of electron-positron annihilation results in both particles producing photons. The production of photons introduces an interesting variable when defining the existence of mass: photons, which are also classified as bosons, can experience superposition (Strassler). However, the production of non-matter particles on its own does not disprove the existence of mass.
Matter is energy (Fernflores 1). The fact that electron-positron interactions can either produce photons or react in a process known as electron scattering provides significant support to the theory of general energy (“Electron-Positron Annihilation”). While the Law of Conservation of Mass states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, matter has the ability to do just that (“Conservation of Mass”). As previously stated, electron-positron interactions creates photons (“Electron-Positron Annihilation”). Unlike positrons and electrons, which both possess a mass of 9.10938291 × 10-31 kilograms, photons do not have mass which is a defining characteristic of matter (Gibbs 1). This contradicts the Law of Conservation of Mass because if particles can appear as either energy or matter after a chemical reaction, there is the possibility that the closed system in which a reaction takes place loses mass (“Conservation of Mass”). If an object can exhibit this trait, how can it be defined as definitely being composed of matter or energy? The Higgs Boson can provide insight to this issue (O’Luanaigh).
Mass-less particles can introduce mass to a system, therefore supporting that matter is just a form of energy (O’Luanaigh). Higg’s Bosons are a unit of energy which can give mass to elementary particles, that is, other bosons. When applied to theories of the creation of the universe, the existence of the Higg’s Boson would insinuate that matter is a form of energy. Therefore, if matter is energy, it is acceptable to say that matter does not truly exist. While this information is only useful to a select few, if it turns out to be true then energy can be manipulated in ways that were previously thought of as impossible. Hence, when the existence of a particle that appeared to be giving mass to other bosons was observed by physicists at the Large Cauldron Collider, the existence of the Higg’s Boson was all-but confirmed (O’Luanaigh).
Energy can behave like matter (Fowler). Although energy is conceived as not having mass (a characteristic of matter), an experiment designed by Albert Einstein, known as “Einstein’s Box,” shows otherwise. The experiment states that when energy is released linearly in a box, the box recoils so that its center of mas does not change. However, the fact that the box recoils indicates that the light energy transferred a minute amount of mass so that balance is maintained in the system. This means that energy exerts itself in the same ways as a particle of matter.
While it is theoretical at this time, understanding matter and energy relations is pivotal in understanding the mechanics of the universe. Knowing how objects and organisms originate allows for more accurate predictions about their future actions. For example, understanding how energy can be expressed as itself or matter can lead to the development of new technology. Understanding subatomic relationships has benefits in the lives of individuals and their energy usage (“Do Antimatter and Matter Destroy Each Other?”). The auto industry, for example, could use the energy from low speed collisions of bosons and fermions to produce energy in the form of gamma rays and photons (“Electron-Positron Annihilation”). Due to the conversion of matter to energy not requiring anything but bosons and fermions, any common form of matter could be used to be converted to energy. The use of boson-fermion interactions to produce energy on a large scale is also a possibility. For example, fermions that are either in large excess throughout the planet could be bombarded with bosons, such as antimatter, in order to transform energy from the fermion-state to a state of pure energy, which could then be contained and used to provide electricity. While the harvesting of such bosons presents an obstacle, future breakthroughs in technology might allow for the efficient production of bosons, which are not currently as available as fermions (“Do Antimatter and Matter Destroy Each Other?”). Therefore, the implications of matter being a form of energy represent that the universe is not what we hold it to be. It is much more prone to being manipulated than humans commonly believe.
- “Conservation of Mass.” Princeton.edu. Princeton University, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2013.
- “Do Antimatter and Matter Destroy Each Other?” Curiosity.com. Discovery Network, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2013.
- 3. “Electron-Positron Annihilation.” Princeton.edu. Princeton University, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2013.
- Fernflores, Francisco. “The Equivalence of Mass and Energy.” Stanford.edu. Stanford University, 12 Sept. 2001. Web. 13 Oct. 2013.