2.

3 The Inertia of Energy

Please reveal who you are of such fearsome form... I wish to clearly know
you, the primeval being, because I cannot fathom your intention. Lord
Krishna said: I am terrible Time, destroyer of all beings in all worlds,
here to destroy this world. f those heroic soldiers now arrayed in the
opposing army, even without you, none will be spared.

!hagavad "ita

The fact that inertial coordinate systems are related by Lorentz transformations (rather
than Galilean transformations) has very profound implications, because acceleration is
not invariant under Lorentz transformations. As a result, the acceleration of an object
subjected to a given force depends on the frame of reference. ince acceleration is a
measure of the object!s inertia, this implies that the object!s "inertial mass# depends on
the frame of reference. $o%, the &inetic energy of an object also depends on the frame of
reference, and %e find that the variation of &inetic energy is al%ays e'actly c
(
times the
variation in inertial mass, %here c is the speed of light. Thus the Lorentz covariance of
the inertial measures of space and time implies that all forms of energy possess inertia,
%hich in turn suggests that all inertia represents energy.

To sho% this )uantitatively, let & denote a system of inertial coordinates and let * denote
another such system, %ith spatially aligned a'es, moving %ith speed v in the positive '
direction relative to &. +f a particle , is moving %ith speed - (in the same direction as v)
relative to *, then the speed u of , relative to the original & coordinates is given by the
composition la% for parallel velocities (as derived at the end of ection ../)


0ifferentiating %ith respect to - gives


1ence, at the instant %hen , is momentarily co2moving %ith the * coordinates (i.e.,
%hen - 3 4, so , is at rest in *, and u 3 v), %e have


+f %e let t and τ denote the time coordinates of & and * respectively, then from the metric
(dτ)
(
3 c
(
(dt)
(
− (d')
(
and the fact that v
(
3 (d'5dt)
(
along the %orldline of , at this
moment, it follo%s that the incremental lapse of proper time dτ along the %orldline of ,
as it advances from t to t 6 dt is , so %e can divide the above
e'pression by this )uantity to give


The )uantity a 3 du5dt is the acceleration of , %ith respect to the & coordinates, %hereas
a
4
3 d- 5 dτ is the acceleration of , %ith respect to the * coordinates (relative to %hich it
is momentarily at rest). $o%, by symmetry, a force 7 e'erted along the a'is of motion
bet%een a particle at rest in & on an identical particle , at rest in * must be of e)ual and
opposite magnitude %ith respect to both frames of reference. (This is consistent %ith the
transformation of electromagnetic force derived at the end of ection (.(.) Also, by
definition, a force of magnitude 7 applied to a particle of "rest mass# m
4
%ill result in an
acceleration a
4
3 75m
4
%ith respect to the reference frame in %hich the particle is
momentarily at rest. Therefore, using the preceding relation bet%een the accelerations
%ith respect to the & and * coordinates, %e have


8y analogy %ith the $e%tonian e)uation 7 3 ma, the coefficient of "a# in this e'pression
is sometimes called the "longitudinal mass#, since it represents the ratio of force to
acceleration along the direction of motion. 1o%ever, in $e%tonian mechanics, force is
also e)ual to the time derivative of momentum p 3 mv, and %e note that e)uation (.) can
be %ritten as


The coefficient of v inside the s)uare brac&ets is the inertial mass m (also called
relativistic mass) of the particle relative to the system &. This turns out to be a more
meaningful measure of the inertial content of an object. ince the )uantity in the brac&ets
e)uals mv, this e)uation signifies that the momentum of the particle is the integral of 7dt
over an interval in %hich the particle is accelerated by a force 7 from rest to velocity v.
9e also &no% that the %or& done on the particle is the integral of 7ds, and this is a
reversible process, i.e., after %e accelerate the particle by doing %or& on it, the particle
can then do an e)ual amount of %or& on its surroundings and thereby be decelerated bac&
to its initial state. 1ence the integral of 7ds from rest to velocity v is a state variable, and
%e %ill call it the &inetic energy, denoted by :.

7or both p and : the results of the integrations are independent of the pattern of
acceleration, so to evaluate these variables for any given v %e can assume constant
acceleration "a# throughout the interval. Therefore the integral of 7dt is evaluated from t
3 4 to t 3 v5a, and since s 3 (.5()at
(
, the integral of 7ds is evaluated from s 3 4 to s 3 v
(
5
((a). Letting the symbol m (%ithout subscript) denote the inertial mass of the particle
given by the ratio p5v, if follo%s that the inertial mass and the &inetic energy of the
particle at any speed v are given by


+f the force 7 %ere e)ual to m
4
a (as in $e%tonian mechanics) these t%o )uantities %ould
e)ual m
4
and (.5()m
4
v
(
respectively. 1o%ever, %e!ve seen that consistency %ith
relativistic &inematics re)uires the force to be given by e)uation (.). As a result, the
inertial mass is given by m 3 m
4
5 (in agreement %ith e)uation (.a)), so it
e'ceeds the rest mass %henever the particle has non2zero velocity. This increase in
inertial mass is e'actly proportional to the &inetic energy of the particle, as sho%n by


The e'act proportionality bet%een the e'tra inertia and the e'tra energy of a moving
particle naturally suggests that the energy itself has contributed the inertia, and this in
turn suggests that all of the particle!s inertia (including its rest inertia m
4
) corresponds to
some form of energy. This leads to the hypothesis of a very general and important
relation, : 3 mc
(
, %hich signifies a fundamental e)uivalence bet%een energy and inertial
mass. 7rom this %e might imagine that all inertial mass is potentially convertible to
energy, although it;s %orth noting that this does not follo% rigorously from the principles
of special relativity. +t is just a hypothesis suggested by special relativity (as it is also
suggested by <a'%ell;s e)uations). +n .=4> the only e'perimental test that :instein could
imagine %as to see if a lump of ?radium salt? loses %eight as it gives off radiation, but of
course that %ould never be a complete test, because the radium doesn;t decay do%n to
nothing. The same is true %ith an nuclear bomb, i.e., it;s really only the binding energy of
the nucleus that is being converted, so it doesn;t demonstrate an entire proton (for
e'ample) being converted into energy. 1o%ever, today %e can observe electrons and
positrons annihilating each other completely, and yielding amounts of energy precisely in
accord %ith the predictions of special relativity.

+n the preceding discussion %e focused on a particle subjected to a force parallel to the
particle!s direction of motion. As noted above, the symmetry of this situation ensures that
the applied force in terms of the relatively moving coordinates e)uals the force in terms
of the rest frame of the particle. A similar analysis can be performed for the application
of a force perpendicular to the direction of motion of a particle, although in this case the
force is not symmetrical %ith respect to the t%o frames. +ndeed %e sa% in ection (.( that
if an electromagnetic force in the rest frame of the particle is 7
4
, then it is 7 3 (.−v
(
)
.5(
7
4

in terms of the inertial coordinates in %hich the particle is moving %ith speed v in a
direction perpendicular to the force. 9e also noted that all &inds of forces must transform
in this same %ay, because other%ise the deviation from electromagnetic forces could be
used to determine an absolute speed. o, analogously to the longitudinal case, %e begin
by %riting the composition la% for perpendicular velocities (see ection ../)


0ifferentiating %ith respect to -
y
gives


1ence, at the instant %hen , is momentarily co2moving %ith the * coordinates (i.e.,
%hen -
'
3 -
y
3 4, so , is at rest in *, and u 3 v), %e have


+f %e again let t and τ denote the time coordinates of & and * respectively, then from the
metric (dτ)
(
3 c
(
(dt)
(
− (d')
(
and the fact that v
(
3 (d'5dt)
(
it follo%s that the incremental
lapse of proper time dτ along the %orldline of , as it advances from t to t 6 dt is
, so %e can divide the above e'pression by this )uantity to give


The )uantity a 3 du
y
5dt is the acceleration of , %ith respect to the & coordinates,
%hereas a
4
3 d-
y
5 dτ is the acceleration of , %ith respect to the * coordinates (relative
to %hich it is momentarily at rest). Therefore, the e)uation 7
4
3 m
4
a
4
becomes


%here %e have made use of the fact that forces perpendicular to the direction of motion
transform according to 7 3 (.−v
(
)
.5(
7
4
as discussed above. The coefficient of the
acceleration "a# in this e)uation is sometimes called the "transverse mass#. @omparison
%ith e)uation (.) sho%s that this differs from the "longitudinal mass#, so in general the
ratio of force to acceleration is not a simple scalar. 1o%ever, if %e again evaluate the
inertial mass, this time in the transverse direction, %e get


At the instant %hen u
'
3 v and u
y
3 4, this reduces to


%hich is consistent %ith ((). o again %e find that the inertial mass (i.e., the momentum
divided by the velocity) is the same as in the longitudinal case, and hence inertial mass is
a scalar. +t!s %orth emphasizing that this %or&s only because all forces transform in the
same %ay as electromagnetic forces.

The preceding discussion represents one of the historical lines of thought that led to a
satisfactory basis for relativistic mechanics, but in hindsight the subject can be developed
in a more efficient %ay. A typical modern approach begins %ith the definition of
momentum as the product of rest mass and velocity. Ane formal motivation for this
definition is that the resulting B2vector is %ell2behaved under Lorentz transformations, in
the sense that if this )uantity is conserved %ith respect to one inertial frame, it is
automatically conserved %ith respect to all inertial frames (%hich %ould not be true if %e
defined momentum in terms of, say, longitudinal mass). Af course, this definition also
agrees %ith non2relativistic momentum in the limit of lo% velocities. (The heuristic
techni)ue of deducing the appropriate observable parameters of a theory from the
re)uirement that they match classical observables in the classical limit %as used
e'tensively in early development of relativity, and later served the same purpose in the
development of )uantum mechanics, %here it is &no%n as the ?@orrespondence
,rinciple?.)

8ased on this definition, the modern approach then simply postulates that momentum is
conserved, and defines relativistic force as the rate of change of momentum %ith respect
to the proper time of the object. This is essentially $e%ton;s econd La%, motivated
largely by the fact that this definition of ?force?, together %ith conservation of
momentum, implies $e%ton;s Third La% (at least in the case of contact forces).
1o%ever, from a purely relativistic standpoint, the definition of momentum as a B2vector
seems incomplete. +ts three components are proportional to the derivatives of the three
spatial coordinates ',y,z of the object %ith respect to the proper time τ of the object, but
%hat about the coordinate time tC +f %e let '
j
, j 3 4, ., (, B denote the coordinates t,',y,z,
then it seems natural to consider the D2vector


%here m no% denotes the rest mass. 9e then define the relativistic force D2vector as the
proper rate of change of momentum, i.e.,


Aur correspondence principle easily enables us to identify the three components p
.
, p
(
, p
B

as just our original momentum B2vector, but no% %e have an additional component, p
4
,
e)ual to m(dt5dτ), %hich %e %ill find corresponds to the ?energy? : of the object. +n full
four2dimensional spacetime, the coordinate time t is related to the object;s proper time τ
according to


+n geometric units (c 3 .) the )uantity in the s)uare brac&ets is just v
(
. ubstituting bac&
into our energy definition, %e have


$otice that this is identical to %hat %e previously called the inertial mass, but no% %e see
that it represents the total energy of the particle. The first term on the right side is simply
m (or mc
(
in normal units), so %e interpret this as the rest energy (and also the rest mass)
of the object. This is sometimes presented as a derivation of mass2energy e)uivalence,
but at best it;s really just a suggestive heuristic argument. The &ey step in this
?derivation? %as %hen %e blithely decided to call p
4
the ?energy? of the object. trictly
spea&ing, %e violated our ?correspondence principle? by ma&ing this definition, because
by correspondence %ith the lo%2velocity limit, the energy : of a particle should be
something li&e (.5()mv
(
, and clearly p
4
does not reduce to this in the lo%2speed limit.
$evertheless, %e defined p
4
as the ?energy? :, and since that component e)uals m %hen
v 3 4, %e essentially just defined our result : 3 m (or : 3 mc
(
in ordinary units) for a
mass at rest. 7rom this reasoning it isn;t clear that this is anything more than a
boo&&eeping convention, one that could just as %ell be applied in classical mechanics
using some arbitrary s)uared velocity to convert from units of mass to units of energy.
The assertion of physical e)uivalence bet%een inertial mass and energy has significance
only if it is actually possible for the entire mass of an object, including its rest mass, to
manifestly e'hibit the )ualities of energy. Lac&ing this, the only e)uivalence bet%een
inertial mass and energy that special relativity strictly entails is the ?e'tra? inertia that
bodies e'hibit %hen they ac)uire &inetic energy (either by being subjected to a
mechanical force or by absorbing radiative energy).

As mentioned above, even the fact that nuclear reactors give off huge amounts of energy
does not really substantiate the complete e)uivalence of energy and inertial mass,
because the energy given off in such reactions represents just the binding energy holding
the nucleons (protons and neutrons) together. The binding energy is the amount of energy
re)uired to pull a nuclei apart. (The terminology is slightly inapt, because a configuration
%ith high binding energy is actually a lo% energy configuration, and vice versa.) Af
course, protons are all positively charged, so they repel each other by the @oulomb force,
but at very small distances the strong nuclear force binds them together. ince each
nucleon is attracted to every other nucleon, %e might e'pect the total binding energy of a
nucleus comprised of $ nucleons to be proportional to $($2.)5(, %hich %ould imply that
the binding energy per nucleon %ould increase linearly %ith $. 1o%ever, saturation
effects cause the binding energy per nucleon to reach a ma'imum at for nuclei %ith $ ≈
E4 (e.g., iron), then to decrease slightly as $ increases further. As a result, if an atom %ith
(say) $ 3 (B4 is split into t%o atoms, each %ith $3..>, the total binding energy per
nucleon is increased, %hich means the resulting configuration is in a lo%er energy state
than the original configuration. +n such circumstances, the t%o small atoms have slightly
less total rest mass than the original large atom, but at the instant of the split the overall
?mass2li&e? )uality is conserved, because those t%o smaller atoms have enormous
velocities, precisely such that the total relativistic mass is conserved. (This physical
conservation is the main reason the old concept of relativistic mass has never been
completely discarded.) +f %e then slo% do%n those t%o smaller atoms by absorbing their
energy, %e end up %ith t%o atoms at rest, at %hich point a little bit of apparent rest mass
has disappeared from the universe. An the other hand, it is also possible to fuse t%o light
nuclei (e.g., $ 3 () together to give a larger atom %ith more binding energy, in %hich
case the rest mass of the resulting atom is less than the combined rest masses of the t%o
original atoms. +n either case (fission or fusion), a net reduction in rest mass occurs,
accompanied by the appearance of an e)uivalent amount of &inetic energy and radiation.
(The actual detailed mechanism by %hich binding energy, originally a ?rest property?
%ith isotropic inertia, becomes a &inetic property representing %hat %e may call
relativistic mass %ith anisotropic inertia, is not %ell understood.)

+t may appear that e)uation (B) fails to account for the energy of light, because it gives :
proportional to the rest mass m, %hich is zero for a photon. 1o%ever, the denominator of
(B) is also zero for a photon (because v 3 .), so %e need to evaluate the e'pression in the
limit as m goes to zero and v goes to .. 9e &no% from the study of electro2magnetic
radiation that although a photon has no rest mass, it does (according to <a'%ell;s
e)uations) have momentum, e)ual to FpF 3 : (or :5c in conventional units). This suggests
that %e try to isolate the momentum component from the rest mass component of the
energy. To do this, %e s)uare e)uation (() and e'pand the simple geometric series as
follo%s


:'cluding the first term, %hich is purely rest mass, all the remaining terms are divisible
by (mv)
(
, so %e can %rite this is


The right2most term is simply the s)uared magnitude of the momentum, so %e have the
apparently fundamental relation


consistent %ith our premise that the : (or :5c in conventional units) e)uals the magnitude
of the momentum FpF for a photon. Af course, electromagnetic %aves are classically
regarded as linear, meaning that photons don;t ordinarily interfere %ith each other
(directly). As 0irac said, ?each photon interferes only %ith itself... interference bet%een
t%o different photons never occurs?. 1o%ever, the non2linear field e)uations of general
relativity enable photons to interact gravitationally %ith each other. 9heeler coined the
%ord ?geon? to denote a s%arm of massless particles bound together by the gravitational
field associated %ith their energy, although he noted that such a configuration %ould be
inherently unstable, viz., it %ould very rapidly either dissipate or shrin& into complete
gravitational collapse. Also, it;s not clear that any physically realistic situation %ould lead
to such a configuration in the first place, since it %ould re)uire concentrating an amount
of electromagnetic energy e)uivalent to the mass m %ithin a radius of about r 3 Gm5c
(
.
7or e'ample, to ma&e a geon from the energy e)uivalent of one electron, it %ould be
necessary to concentrate that energy %ithin a radius of about (E.G).4
2>/
meters.

An interesting alternative approach to deducing (D) is based directly on the <in&o%s&i
metric


This is applicable both to massive timeli&e particles and to light. +n the case of light %e
&no% that the proper time dτ and the rest mass m are both zero, but %e may postulate that
the ratio m5dτ remains meaningful even %hen m and dτ individually vanish. <ultiplying
both sides of the <in&o%s&i line element by the s)uare of this ratio gives immediately


The first term on the right side is :
(
and the remaining three terms are p
'
(
, p
y
(
, and p
z
(
, so
this e)uation can be %ritten as


1ence this e'pression is nothing but the <in&o%s&i spacetime metric multiplied through
by (m5dτ)
(
, as illustrated in the figure belo%.


The &inetic energy of the particle %ith rest mass m along the indicated %orldline is
represented in this figure by the portion of the total energy : in e'cess of the rest energy.

Heturning to the )uestion of ho% mass and energy can be regarded as different
e'pressions of the same thing, recall that the energy of a particle %ith rest mass m
4
and
speed I is m
4
5(.−I
(
)
.5(
. 9e can also determine the energy of a particle %hose motion is
defined as the composition of t%o orthogonal speeds. Let t,',y,z denote the inertial
coordinates of system , and let T,J,K,L denote the (aligned) inertial coordinates of
system ;. +n the particle is moving %ith speed v
y
in the positive y direction so its
coordinates are


The Lorentz transformation for a coordinate system ; %hose spatial origin is moving
%ith the speed v in the positive ' (and J) direction %ith respect to system is


so the coordinates of the particle %ith respect to the ; system are


The first of these e)uations implies t 3 T(. − v
'
(
)
.5(
, so %e can substitute for t in the
e'pressions for J and K to give


The total s)uared speed I
(
%ith respect to these coordinates is given by


ubtracting . from both sides and factoring the right hand side, this relativistic
composition rule for orthogonal speeds v
'
and v
y
can be %ritten in the form


+t follo%s that the total energy (neglecting stress and other forms of potential energy) of a
ring of matter %ith a rest mass m
4
spinning %ith an intrinsic circumferential speed u and
translating %ith a speed v in the a'ial direction is


A similar argument applies to translatory motions of the ring in any direction, not just the
a'ial direction. 7or e'ample, consider motions in the plane of the ring, and focus on the
contributions of t%o diametrically opposed particles (each of rest mass m
4
5() on the ring,
as illustrated belo%.


+f the circumferential motion of the t%o particles happens to be perpendicular to the
translatory motion of the ring, as sho%n in the left2hand figure, then the preceding
formula for : is applicable, and represents the total energy of the t%o particles. +f, on the
other hand, the circumferential motion of the t%o particles is parallel to the motion of the
ring;s center, as sho%n in the right2hand figure, then the t%o particles have the speeds
(v6u)5(.6vu) and (v−u)5(.−vu) respectively, so the combined total energy (i.e., the
relativistic mass) of the t%o particles is given by the sum


Thus each pair of diametrically opposed particles %ith e)ual and opposite intrinsic
motions parallel to the e'trinsic translatory motion contribute the same total amount of
energy as if their intrinsic motions %ere both perpendicular to the e'trinsic motion. :very
bound system of particles can be decomposed into pairs of particles %ith e)ual and
opposite intrinsic motions, and these motions are either parallel or perpendicular or some
combination relative to the e'trinsic motion of the system, so the preceding analysis
sho%s that the relativistic mass of the bound system of particles is isotropic, and the
system behaves just li&e an object %hose rest mass e)uals the sum of the intrinsic
relativistic masses of the constituent particles. ($ote again that %e are not considering
internal stresses and other &inds of potential energy.)

This nicely illustrates ho%, if the spinning ring %as mounted inside a bo', %e %ould
simply regard the angular &inetic energy of the ring as part of the rest mass <
4
of the bo'
%ith speed v, i.e.,


%here the ?rest mass? of the bo' is no% e'plicitly dependent on its energy content. This
naturally leads to the idea that each original particle might also be regarded as a ?bo'?
%hose contents are in an e'cited energy state via some &inetic mode (possibly rotational),
and so the ?rest mass? m
4
of the particle is actually just the relativistic mass of a lesser
amount of ?true? rest mass, leading to an infinite regress, and the idea that perhaps all
matter is really some form of energy.

8ut does it really ma&e sense to imagine that all the mass (i.e., inertial resistance) is
really just energy, and that there is no irreducible rest mass at allC +f there is no original
&ernel of irreducible matter, then %hat ultimately possesses the energyC To picture ho%
an aggregate of massless energy can have non2zero rest mass, first consider t%o identical
massive particles connected by a massless spring, as illustrated belo%.


uppose these particles are oscillating in a simple harmonic motion about their common
center of mass, alternately e'panding and compressing the spring. The total energy of the
system is conserved, but part of the energy oscillates bet%een &inetic energy of the
moving particles and potential (stress) energy of the spring. At the point in the cycle
%hen the spring has no tension, the speed of the particles (relative to their common center
of mass) is a ma'imum. At this point the particles have e)ual and opposite speeds 6u and
2u, and %e;ve seen that the combined rest mass of this configuration (corresponding to the
amount of energy re)uired to accelerate it to a given speed v) is m
4
5(.−u
(
)
.5(
. At other
points in the cycle, the particles are at rest %ith respect to their common center of mass,
but the total amount of energy in the system %ith respect to any given inertial frame is
constant, so the effective rest mass of the configuration is constant over the entire cycle.
ince the combined rest mass of the t%o particles themselves (at this point in the cycle) is
just m
4
, the additional rest mass to bring the total configuration up to m
4
5(.−u
(
)
.5(
must be
contributed by the stress energy stored in the ?massless? spring. This is one e'ample of a
massless entity ac)uiring rest mass by virtue of its stored energy.

Hecall that the energy2momentum vector of a particle is defined as M:, p
'
, p
y
, p
z
N %here :
is the total energy and p
'
, p
y
, p
z
are the components of the momentum, all %ith respect to
some fi'ed system of inertial coordinates t,',y,z. The rest mass m
4
of the particle is then
defined as the <in&o%s&ian ?norm? of the energy2momentum vector, i.e.,


+f the particle has rest mass m
4
, then the components of its energy2momentum vector are


+f the object is moving %ith speed u, then dt5dτ 3 γ 3 .5(.−u
(
)
.5(
, so the energy component
is e)ual to the transverse relativistic mass. The rest mass of a configuration of arbitrarily
moving particles is simply the norm of the sum of their individual energy2momentum
vectors. The energy2momentum vectors of t%o particles %ith individual rest masses m4
moving %ith speeds d'5dt 3 u and d'5dt 3 −u are Mγm
4
, γm
4
u, 4, 4N and Mγm
4
, −γm
4
u,
4, 4N, so the sum is M(γm
4
, 4, 4, 4N, %hich has the norm (γm
4
. This is consistent %ith the
previous result, i.e., the rest mass of t%o particles in e)ual and opposite motion about the
center of the configuration is simply the sum of their (transverse) relativistic masses, i.e.,
the sum of their energies.

A photon has no rest mass, %hich implies that the <in&o%s&ian norm of its energy2
momentum vector is zero. 1o%ever, it does not follo% that the components of its energy2
momentum vector are all zero, because the <in&o%s&ian norm is not positive2definite.
7or a photon %e have :
(
− p
'
(
− p
y
(
− p
z
(
3 4 (%here : 3 hν), so the energy2momentum
vectors of t%o photons, one moving in the positive ' direction and the other moving in
the negative ' direction, are of the form M:, :, 4, 4N and M:, −:, 4, 4N respectively. The
<in&o%s&i norms of each of these vectors individually are zero, but the sum of these t%o
vectors is M(:, 4, 4, 4N, %hich has a <in&o%s&i norm of (:. This sho%s that the rest mass
of t%o identical photons moving in opposite directions is m
4
3 (: 3 (hν, even though the
individual photons have no rest mass.

+f %e could imagine a means of binding the t%o photons together, li&e the t%o particles
attached to the massless spring, then %e could conceive of a bound system %ith positive
rest mass %hose constituents have no rest mass. As mentioned previously, in normal
circumstances photons do not interact %ith each other (i.e., they can be superimposed
%ithout affecting each other), but %e can, in principle, imagine photons bound together
by the gravitational field of their energy (geons). The ability of electrons and anti2
electrons (positrons) to completely annihilate each other in a release of energy suggests
that these actual massive particles are also, in some sense, bound states of pure energy,
but the mechanisms or processes that hold an electron together, and that determine its
characteristic mass, charge, etc., are not &no%n.

+t;s %orth noting that the definition of ?rest mass? is some%hat conte't2dependent %hen
applied to comple' accelerating configurations of entities, because the momentum of
such entities depends on the space and time scales on %hich they are evaluated. 7or
e'ample, %e may as& %hether the rest mass of a spinning dis& should include the &inetic
energy associated %ith its spin. 7or another e'ample, if the :arth is considered over just a
small portion of its orbit around the un, %e can say that it has linear momentum (%ith
respect to the un;s inertial rest frame), so the energy of its circumferential motion is
e'cluded from the definition of its rest mass. 1o%ever, if the :arth is considered as a
bound particle during many complete orbits around the un, it has no net momentum
%ith respect to the un;s frame, and in this conte't the :arth;s orbital &inetic energy is
included in its ?rest mass?.

imilarly the atoms comprising a ?stationary? bloc& of lead are not microscopically
stationary, but in the aggregate, averaged over the characteristic time scale of the mean
free oscillation time of the atoms, the bloc& is stationary, and is treated as such. The
temperature of the lead actually represents changes in the states of motion of the
constituent particles, but over a suitable length of time the particles are still stationary.
9e can continue to smaller scales, do%n to sub2atomic particles comprising individual
atoms, and %e find that the position and momentum of a particle cannot even be precisely
stipulated simultaneously. +n each case %e must choose a conte't in order to apply the
definition of rest mass. +n general, physical entities possess multiple modes of e'citation
(&inetic energy), and some of these modes %e may choose (or be forced) to absorb into
the definition of the object;s ?rest mass?, because they do not vanish %ith respect to any
inertial reference frame, %hereas other modes %e may choose (and be able) to e'clude
from the ?rest mass?. +n order to assess the momentum of comple' physical entities in
various states of e'citation, %e must first decide ho% finely to decompose the entities,
and the time intervals over %hich to ma&e the assessment. The ?rest mass? of an entity
invariably includes some of %hat %ould be called energy or ?relativistic mass? if %e %ere
%or&ing on a lo%er level of detail.