Brainwashed by Newton?
Z. K. SilagadzeBudker Institute of Nuclear Physics andNovosibirsk State University, 630 090, Novosibirsk, Russia
At ﬁrst sight, arguments for and against of the relativistic massnotion look like a notorious intra-Lilliputian quarrel between Big-Endians (those who broke their eggs at the larger end) and Little-Endians. However, at closer inspection we discover that the relativis-tic mass notion hinders understanding of the spirit of modern physicsto a much greater extent than it seems.
Velocity dependent relativistic mass is still popular in teaching of relativityand especially in popular literature. Several authors have criticized the useof this historically outdated notion [1,2,3, 4,5, 6,7]while others ﬁnd the
concept useful [8,9,10, 11, 12].
The usage of relativistic mass and “Einstein’s most famous equation
” was quite ubiquitous in old textbooks. So why should we bother? If such renowned experts in the ﬁeld as Tolman, Born and Fock in the past andPenrose and Rindler today ﬁnd the concept of relativistic mass useful whynot to follow the motto “All true believers break their eggs at the convenientend” instead of entering in an endless and arid dispute between Big-Endians and Little-Endians?The answer is simple. Modern physics oﬀers a picture of reality whichis completely diﬀerent from the classical Newtonian picture. It is impossi-ble to master this kind of reality if you try to put it in a Procrustean bed of Newtonian concepts. Nevertheless this is exactly what the modern education1