E = mc^2

27 Oct

I am not a big lover of mathematical symbols or equations. But, when I do come across universal constants and equations which change the entire way humans think of nature, it amazes me. One of the most famous equations of our time is certainly E=mc^2, which explains the mass-energy relationship. Though I have always wondered about it, only this time, I thought I will sit down and crunch some numbers.

If we assume a mass of say 1kg, the energy equivalence is approximately 90000000000000000 joules or 25000000000 kilowatt-hours or 21 megatons of TNT. Imagine how much energy we potentially have. The word potential is important, since the above energy assumes that mass is at rest…:).. This got me thinking, how much energy do we really consume per day in order to sustain. One way to calculate that would be to find the calorific value of the food intake. Assuming our mass doesnt change upon the food intake and we survive, one could say that the energy expended is just equal to energy consumed. Being a conservative person, I assigned 3000 calories of food intake to show a good number for the amount of energy we make use of. 1 calorie is around 4.184 joules, which would mean 3000 calories is roughly 12000 joules. Comparing that with the energy equivalent (still assuming 1 kg mass since multiplying it by 50 or 100 is not going to significantly affect the equations…again being on the conservative end of the spectrum), the fraction of energy consumed to keep our body in tact is around .000000000013333333 %. This is quite amazing from 2 aspects. One can look at it and say that our entire system works with such a low energy battery or that we probably are expending only a very small proportion of our energy equivalence.

Switching gears a little, I have heard from people who meditate and who are spiritually oriented that nature has a lot of energy. I often hear people saying that, when they go to a park or beach, they could see a lot of energy. Now, thinking back, based on the energy equivalence, one could say that, wherever there is a lot of mass, there is a lot of potential energy stored in that place. Obviously, forests, mountains, rivers and oceans have a lot of energy associated with it and thus the entire universe. Also, when there is a place, like a social gathering with a lot of people involved, you will still see that there is a lot of energy in that place. The only place where I couldnt find this correspondence to work is with obese people. We dont call all fat people as being energetic, do we? When someone oozes with confidence and optimism, we call them energetic. How is that energy defined? So, can one say that energy is not just a “mass” concept but rather a “mind” concept when it comes to people? I dont know…


Posted by on October 27, 2006 in From AM-KICKING blog


7 responses to “E = mc^2

  1. BrainWaves

    October 27, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    Confused a bit here..
    1) 1kg generates too much energy
    2) Our body uses fraction of that too much
    3) So, body uses reasonable energy
    4) And pushes out mass (in various forms)

    On your thoughts about Beaches/Ocean,
    It should be otherway…if more mass is there then energy is not converted and hence not energtic 🙂


  2. Mindframes

    October 27, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    I think I understand what you are trying to say… Calorific value is the energy that you get by burning the “mass” that one consumes. Since energy is needed to burn, we expend some and gain some. The difference between the expended energy from the energy gained is the actual energy consumed. So, the real question is the differential. I dont have the answer to that…

    I dont understand the second part of ur comment…if it was supposed to be a joke, there is a little tubelight blinking above my head…:)

    This is what I thought…The beach/ocean analogy is to state the connection between the original einstein theory with what people usually say… The only anomaly is the mention about the fact that obesity is not related to being energetic…Assuming oceans and beaches dont have a mind of their own, they dont participate in the discussion between mind and mass…

  3. Manohar

    October 28, 2006 at 12:13 am

    One should note a difference in the energy e=mc^2 talks about and the energy in people we talk about.

    We say somebody is energetic as a blanket statement for everything that involves a lot of activity (yes, that does translate to burning energy). But when we say an obese person is not energetic we are talking different things here. If you burn that person they may release a lot of energy – but in the live state the obesity has reduced their potential to burn energy. I suppose our system has an optimum muscle/fat composition setting where it burns energy efficiently and for eg when one becomes too fat and causes clogged arteries, blood doesn’t flow well and glucose doesn’t distribute well and muscles can’t use the glucose.

    So there is a big difference between potential to burn vs actual burning. I suppose i gave a very simple example but i’m sure the biology dudes can come up with more detailes things.

    Now for the other aspect- when people say they see a lot of energy, agains its a metaphorical usage.I’m sure they are not talking about energy as in e=mc^2. Because of they did being in the midst of 1000’s of dead bodies should be as energetic as being with 1000’s live body.

    I believe they are only talking about the activities involved and the above mentioned activity is to their liking and their brain is stimulated and they feel good about it.

  4. Survivor

    October 28, 2006 at 12:14 am

    Using the same equation, the kinetic energy is different and I am assuming will be far lesser as the mass is in motion , and for the same mass of 1Kg, the energy will be some thousands of joules maybe. In that case, can we say obese people have more potential energy but their motion is very limited which decreases their kinetic energy….or rather translating ” not energetic” to less kinetic energy.

  5. Mindframes

    October 28, 2006 at 12:35 am

    survivor, the einstein formula by itself is only for objects at rest. When they move, the equation has a 1 – v^2/c^2 in the denominator (assuming no object can reach the velocity of light, at which the equation doesnt hold good)…

    mano, I understand the difference. But, I cudnt help but notice the (un)commonalities. Overall problem is that, mind’s power doesnt seem to quantifiable, and that seems strange to me because it does make a difference…

  6. Injikadan Mathai

    October 28, 2006 at 12:37 am

    There is too much energy floatin around here right now..guess i will conserve mine for later (lol)

  7. Survivor

    October 28, 2006 at 4:32 am

    I knew the formula was different with the velocity of light…

    My take was that when we say an obese person is not energetic we could probably mean that they dont have enough momentum which could bring their kinetic energy down…or rather should I say their energy transfer is less….Ok, maybe I am getting confused here…


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