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ERIC Number: EJ913079
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jan
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
On Defining Mass
Hecht, Eugene
Physics Teacher, v49 n1 p40-44 Jan 2011
Though central to any pedagogical development of physics, the concept of mass is still not well understood. Properly defining mass has proven to be far more daunting than contemporary textbooks would have us believe. And yet today the origin of mass is one of the most aggressively pursued areas of research in all of physics. Much of the excitement surrounding the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is associated with discovering the mechanism responsible for the masses of the elementary particles. This paper will first briefly examine the leading definitions, pointing out their shortcomings. Then, utilizing relativity theory, it will propose--for consideration by the community of physicists--a conceptual definition of mass predicated on the more fundamental concept of energy, more fundamental in that everything that has mass has energy, yet not everything that has energy has mass.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Practitioners
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A