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lpgeorge123
2007-May-04, 06:50 AM
I was listening the the G'Day World episode with Fraser and Pamela, and there was something that caught my attention. When they were discussing the speed of light, Pamela said that if someone were to actually travel at the speed of light, their mass would approach infinity. Could someone explain why that is?

Thanks!

Anton
2007-May-04, 03:59 PM
Pamela said that if someone were to actually travel at the speed of light, their mass would approach infinity. Could someone explain why that is?

It is a mathematical consequence of Einsteins theory of special relativity and of his formula E=mc2. It says that energy and mass is basically the same thing. You may think of mass as “frozen” energy. Mass can turn into energy and energy into mass.

When something that has mass moves, the energy that is associated with that motion will add to the mass. As the object approaches the speed of light, its mass approaches infinity. This mass used to be referred to as “relativistic mass” but the term is out of fashion. This increase in mass actually does not mean that something strange is happening to the object. It has more to do with the geometric properties of space-time.

So, unless you are a physicist, just think of it a bizarre effect of relativity!

For more “relativity special effects” you can read George Gamow’s “The New World of Mr Tompkins”.

lpgeorge123
2007-May-04, 07:45 PM
Thank you! That makes more sense now.