This programme examines the interchangeability of mass and energy as encapsulated in Einstein's equation E=mc2.
|Module code and title:
|S354, Understanding space and time
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|Julian Schwinger; Russell Stannard
|BBC Open University
|CERN accelerator; Einstein; Light clock; Special relativity
|Julian Schwinger introduces the programme. Animated diagrams showing a light clock and of spaceships in motion demonstrate some interesting consequences of Special Relativity. Commentary by Schwinger points out the lack of universal simultaneity. Julian Schwinger and then Russ Stannard explains how the concept of the absolute limit of the speed of light is tested experimentally in particle accelerators. Shots of the particle accelerator (proton syschroton) at the European Nuclear Research Organisation, Geneva. But one thing Russ Stannard looks at a graph showing velocity energy and mass from the particle accelerator experiment. Schwinger joins in and discusses the property of conservation of momentum. He operates a Newton's Cradle while he talks. Using animations of two spaceships in relative motion and shooting projectiles at one another Schwinger explains how, through a combination of momentum conservation and special relativity the formula E = mc₂ is arrived at. Russ Stannard, using film of the CERN super proton sychroton, of a hydrogen bubble chamber, and animated diagrams, explains the experimental set up by which it can be shown that the total conversion of mass to energy and vice versa as indicated by the E = mc₂ formula is possible. Stannard examines several photographs from the bubble chamber which contain evidence proving the creation of new particles from the energy of collis of particles in the chamber. Stannard sums up the programme.
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