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Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity | E=MC2

E = mc2, the equation in the special relativity theory of German-born physicist Albert Einstein, which expresses that mass and energy are the same physical object and can be changed into each other. In the equation, the augmented mass of relativism (m) of the body by the speed of light (c2) is equal to the kinetic energy (E) of the body.

What Are The Implications Of This Equation?

The implications of E=mc2 are enormous and profound. For centuries scientists had considered energy and mass to be completely distinct and unrelated. E=mc2 showed that in fact, energy and mass are not separate entities. In fact, they are different forms of the same thing. Below are some of them:

  • The equation explains how the sun and every star in the universe works by using nuclear fusion, in which hydrogen and helium atoms fuse together while much of their mass is converted to energy.

  • E=mc2 explains how, under the right conditions, matter can become energy and energy can become matter. In fact, they are the same thing.

  • It explains the atomic energy produced by nuclear power plants and the atomic energy released by atomic bombs. Neither would be possible without Einstein’s equation.

  • The equation explains radioactivity. When radiology technicians use a radioactive substance to illuminate processes on the human body, E=mc2 makes the technique possible.

  • The equation is used in the radiocarbon technique which scientists use for dating objects.

  • E=mc2 is used in computer tomography (CT scans) and positron emission topography scans (PET scans).

  • Telecommunication satellites would not be possible without this equation.

  • The equation spawned a brand new science called high energy particle physics. Particle accelerators as well as the analysis of the high speed collisions within them would be impossible without a thorough comprehension of the equation.

  • The equation accounts for the heat in the Earth’s crust which is kept warm by a steady barrage of E=mc2 conversions.

  • It explains what transpires at black holes.

  • At the beginning of the universe, E=mc2 is the only accepted explanation for what was going on in the first seconds after the Big Bang. Energy and matter went back and forth indiscriminately in exact accordance with the equation.

Let's look at some real world example of this equation

1. Global Positioning System

Global Positioning System

A GPS device will inform you about 0.8 km will be 5 miles (8 km) from the nearest gas station, after one day, without the relativistic impacts.

"Because an observer on the ground sees the satellites in motion relative to them, Special Relativity predicts that we should see their clocks ticking more slowly," researchers at Ohio State University said.

2. Gold


Most metals are "shiny" and with some absorbed and re-emitted as "jump and fall" electrons within orbitals, most light is reflected.

However, gold is a very heavy atom. The inner electrons are traveling so quickly (close to half the speed of light) that, under the influence of the Theory of Relativity, their mass increases and length shortens. This offers more momentum and faster routes for them.

These electrons have about as much energy as those in the outer shells, so the absorbed and reflected distances are larger. This indicates the absorption of more light than normal, which is at the blue end of the spectrum.

This suggests that the light emitted from gold has less blue and violet in it, because this portion of the spectrum is longer wavelength than blue, giving gold its yellowish hue.

3. Electromagnets


Through relativity, electromagnets run. The conducting material is electrically neutral without a net positive or negative charge as the DC current passes through a single wire. Let's place another similar wire next to the first one now.

The electrons in the first wire "see" the electrons in the second wire as motionless, assuming the currents are going and the same intensity in the same direction. The protons in both wires seem to be traveling from the point of view of the electrons. They tend to be more closely spaced due to relativistic length contraction, meaning there is more positive charging per wire length than negative charging. That the two wires both repel, as charges repel.

In one of the wires, reverse one of the currents and you will have the opposite result and they will attract electromagnet formation - fantastic.

4. Mercury


Mercury is a very heavy atom, as is gold. The electrons are kept closer to the nucleus, as in gold (and thus have more velocity and mass than should otherwise be expected). This suggests that inter-atomic bonds are weak enough to have a low melting point for Mercury than other metals and thus occur on Earth in a liquid state.

5. Old Televisions

Old Televisions

Older TVs have a piece of hardware called a cathode ray tube. This work with a large magnet by shooting electrons on a phosphorous base. On the projector, each electron equates to an illuminated pixel. These electrons fly at around 30 percent of the speed of light, and when modelling the shapes of the magnets, relativistic effects must be compensated for.

6. Light


Isaac Newton proposed that there exists in absolute rest frame in the Universe. If this was true, then light shouldn't exist at all.

Andrew Moore of Pomona College explained it as:

"Not only would magnetism not exist but light would also not exist, because relativity requires that changes in an electromagnetic field move at a finite speed instead of instantaneously, if relativity did not enforce this requirement … changes in electric fields would be communicated instantaneously … instead of through electromagnetic waves, and both magnetism and light would be unnecessary."

7. Our existence

Our existence

Before the birth of our sun, half the mass of our solar system came from a supernova. We are the children of this long dead Star, and within Supernovas, all heavier atoms are formed and made.

Supernovas occur because, in massive stars, relativistic forces overtake quantum ones. A star's outer layers fall back into the core. This then bursts, producing heavier elements than iron. Currently, virtually all the heavy elements that we're acquainted with today.

8. Nuclear Power and Sunlight

Nuclear Power and Sunlight

E=MC2 explains the concept of mass and energy being entangled and convertible to each other from nuclear power plants to our national star. We will have no nuclear fuel without it and, most importantly, no sunshine.

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