What is Mass?


From Wikipedia, “In Newtonian physics, mass can be generalized as the amount of matter in an object”. In the physics definition, it is a measurement of the resistance to acceleration. It was Newton that founded the law of F=ma, where F is force, m is mass and a is acceleration. In other words, it takes more force to accelerate an object with more mass. For example, it takes more force to push a heavy car than it takes to roll a light bicycle.

Mass is represented in SI units as kilograms and so it is often confused with weight. On Earth, a person could weigh 80 kilograms, but could be weightless in space. Yet that same person has the same mass on Earth and in space. That is because weight is mass times the acceleration of gravity. Mass is constant but the acceleration of gravity changes.

Some of the strange properties of mass are:

  • As an object increases speed, its mass increases. This is known as relativistic mass.
  • Mass can appear from nothing. In a process called pair production, an electron and positron can be mysteriously created from empty space.
  • If an atom is split into two, the mass of the nucleus does not always equal the mass of the two new nuclei. Energy may be released or absorbed to account for the difference.
Earth Mass

Credit: Arizona State University




Mass is simply stored energy without consideration of wave speed. It’s found in Einstein’s E=mc2 equation where c is the speed of light (wave speed). Remove c from the equation and it’s apparent that mass and energy are intertwined. Yet there are forms of energy that do not have mass, such photons, so it is important to recognize the following:

  • Mass is energy
  • Not all energy is mass

The reason for this is found in the page explaining energy – different forms of energy are different forms of waves. A particle is standing waves of energy, as a result of longitudinal waves being reflected from its core wave centers. A standing wave is a stationary wave which is stored energy. Mass is stored energy from the particle’s standing waves, defined to the transition point (particle radius) where waves transition back to traveling waves.

“Mass is stored energy from a particle’s standing wave structure”

Particle Mass and Radius


Mass is stored energy in particles. Atoms are the sum of the mass of the particles that it contains. And large objects are the summation of all the mass in the atoms that it contains. That’s how the mass of matter like humans or planets are calculated. This explanation of mass also explains how it can be created and destroyed. Note that energy is never created nor destroyed, yet mass can be. That’s because of a change in wave forms…


Relativistic Mass

When a particle is in motion, its wavelength changes according to the same principle as the Doppler effect. This is demonstrated in the section on relativity, where it was proven to derive the Lorentz factor in the derivation of Einstein’s energy-momentum equation.

In short, the particle’s standing wave energy increases as a result of motion. Because a particle is reflecting longitudinal waves that travel at the speed of light, it cannot surpass this speed. The standing wave energy increases dramatically as it approaches the speed of its incoming longitudinal waves.


Annihilation & Pair Production

The entire mass of two particles can be destroyed in the annihilation process and mass can be created in the pair production process. It is destroyed or created as a result of standing wave energy converting to traveling wave energy or vice versa. Energy is always equal, but when standing waves (stored energy) break down, a particle no longer has mass.

Annihilation is a particle and its anti-particle that is 180 degree phase difference on the wave, producing destructive waves, as explained in the antimatter section.  When a particle’s core, the wave centers, reflect waves they are destructive and no longer produce standing waves. Without standing waves, there is no mass to be measured although the particle’s wave centers are still there. The energy is released as transverse, traveling waves (photons).

Pair production is the opposite of annihilation where mass is created. Energy is always conserved. A photon with sufficient energy to separate the particle’s and anti-particle’s wave centers allows both particles to reflect longitudinal waves to be standing in form once again, without being destructive.  Once the particles have standing waves, they are measured again as mass.


Atom Splitting

The nuclear binding energy of protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus is similar to the process explained above with annihilation and pair production, except the stored energy is in the form of gluons (see strong force). When these particles bind in the atom, it changes the standing wave structure of the atomic nucleus. It may take energy or release energy in the form of traveling waves depending on the atomic configuration.



Video – What is Mass?

The What is Mass video below provides a description of mass and an explanation of its behaviors.