AQA A Level Physics

Revision Notes

8.4.1 Energy & Mass Equivalence

Energy & Mass Equivalence

  • Einstein showed in his theory of relativity that matter can be considered a form of energy and hence, he proposed:
    • Mass can be converted into energy
    • Energy can be converted into mass
  • This is known as mass-energy equivalence, and can be summarised by the equation:

E = mc2

  • Where:
    • E = energy (J)
    • m = mass (kg)
    • c = the speed of light (m s-1)
  • Some examples of mass-energy equivalence are:
    • The fusion of hydrogen into helium in the centre of the sun
    • The fission of uranium in nuclear power plants
    • Nuclear weapons
    • High-energy particle collisions in particle accelerators
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