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3/7/2017 Expt.III1MassisConserved!

iePhysics

ExperimentIII1

MassisConserved!
anempoweringmeasurementtool

Oneofthepropertiesofouruniversethatmakeslifeasweknowitmanageableisthatwhilesome
changesoccur,manyaspectsdonotchange.Theseconstants,andthoseaspectswhichperiodically
repeat(suchasdaysandyears),onceunderstood,provideuspowertocontrolourlivesanduseour
environmentforlifesupport.Oneofthemoreusefuliswhatisnowcalledmass,atermformerlyused
interchangeablywithweight.Wesensegreatermassesasheavierwhenwetrytoliftoracceleratean
object.

Formillenniahumanshaveusedweightasacommercialmeasureofmaterialsbecauseitisconsistent
andreliable.Itsmeasureonlychangeswhenmaterialislostorgained.Wesayweightisconserved.
Forexampleitisuniversallyacceptedthatthecostoftwicetheweightof,say,bananasshouldbetwice
asmuch.Butitisequallyusefultomeasuretheweightofasubstancebydifference.Forexamplethe
gravelinatruckloadisdeterminedbysubtractingthenetweightofthetruckfromtheloadedweight.
Chemistsoftendeterminetheamountofmaterialsynthesizedbysummingthemassofingredients.And
particlephysicistsdetermineundetectedelectricallyneutralelementaryparticlesbythemissingmass
aftersummingthemassesofallelectricallychargedparticles.

Asalchemydevelopedasthenewmillenniadeveloped2000yearsago,it
seemedapparentthatitwaspossibletochangeasubstancewithwithoneset
orpropertiestoanothersubstance.Earthyelementscouldbeappropriately
treatedwithsecretreagentscreatingamorevaluablemetal.Butthe
processesseemeddifficult,perhapsdependingonusingpreciselythecorrect
proportionsofeachmaterial.Overmanycenturiesthecommercialuseof
weightformeasuringmaterialsbecameamoreandmorecrucialpracticefor
alchemy.Thepracticeofcarefullyweighingreactantsandproductsfinally
cametoaheadwhenanumberofinconsistenciesinthencurrentalchemy
theorywereuncovered,leadingtoascientificrevolution.AgroupledbyFrenchamateuralchemist
AntoineLavoisier(b1743,d1794,shownatrightwithpartnerandwifeMarie)developedalternative
chemistrytheorybasedonweight.Theconceptofchemicalelementwasredefinedtobeasubstance
separatedandrefinedasmuchaspossible.Weightbecamethecrucialtooltodeterminewhethera
reactionaddedorremovedmaterials.

distinguishingweightandmass

Theconceptsofweightandmasshavebeentangledsinceancienttimes.Whencommercefirstbegan
comparingquantitiesofgoods,onewaytojudgeequivalencewastohefteachsample,usingexertionof
muscleforcetoliftanddeterminewhatisnowcalledweight.Butwhenequalarmbalanceswereusedto
provideamoreaccuratecomparison,theeffectofgravitycancelledfromthecomparisonsleavingmass
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3/7/2017 Expt.III1MassisConserved!

asthepropertybeingcompared.Forthepurposeofcommerce,weightandmasswereeffectively
equivalent.Formosthumanactivities,therecontinuestobenocompellingneedtodistinguish!Butto
continuetousethetermsinterchangeablywhenthedifferenceisknowissloppycommunicationand
promotescontinuedconfusion.

Ancientpeoplesviewedtheearthinthecenteroftheuniverseand
presumedallheavenlybodiesnaturallymovedaroundtheearth.The
ancientGreekssawnoneedforanyothercauseforheavenlymotions.
ButafterNicholasCopernicus(b1473,d1543)suggestedthattheEarth
mightbeaplanetjustlikeseveralotherheavenlybodies,JohannKepler
(b1571,d1630)andothersbegantoenvisiontheremightbesomeforce
neededsuchasmagnetismorthegravitywhichcausedthefallofobjects
onearth.AskedbyHalleywhatwouldbethecurvedescribedbythe
planetsonthesuppositionthatgravitydiminishedasthesquareofthe
distance(r),IsaacNewton(b1643,d1727,portraitatleft)immediately
replied,anellipseandclaimedtohavederivedKepler'sthreelawsof
planetarymotion.WhenHalleyaskedtoseethederivation,Newtonwas
unabletofindthepapers.IttookNewton17or18monthsofconstant
worktodraftMathematicalPrinciplesofNaturePhilosophydescribing
thelawsofmotionandproposingalawofuniversalgravitation

Fgravitym1m2/r2

Newtonusedthetermmasstobothdescribegravitationalmass,m,thatpropertywhichisinvolvedin
thecreationofthegravity,aswellasinertialmass,thepropertyofobjectswhichresistsanychangein
theirmotions.Becausegravitationalmassandinertialmassmysteriouslyappearidenticalinall
situations,wesimplyusethetermmasstorepresentboth.HoweverNewtondesignatedweightto
representthatgravitationalforce,Fgravity,betweenmasses,suchasthepullofanapplebytheEarth.This
distinctionbetweentheconceptsofweightandmasshasremainedcloudedbyconfusionsincethe
distinctionhasnotbeenofimportancetomostpeople.Butforphysics,chemistryandmanyother
activitiesthedistinctionisimportant.(Inatleastoncecase,anewCanadianpassengerjetaircraftranoutoffuelin
theair,midflight,whentheamountofloadedfuelhadbeenmeasuredinunitsofpounds[weight]insteadofthedesired
kilograms[mass].)

importanceofconservation

Whileadistinctionbetweenweightandthevariousformsofmasshavebeenconsideredunimportantby
manypeople,theapparentconservationoftheserelatedpropertieshasbeencruciallyimportant!Itwas
preciselybecausetheweightofanobjectdidn'tseemtochangeovertimeanditsequivalencetoasimilar
objectremainedunchanged,thatweightwastakenasavaluablemeasureforcommerce.Butweightis
notalwaysconserved.Ifyoupreciselyweighanobjectinavalleyandonamountaintop,therewillbe
smallweightdifference.Andiftheobjectistransportedtothemoon,itsweightwillbemuchlessthere.
Itisbecausepreciselymeasuredmassdoesnotevenexhibitthesechangesthatscientistsdistinguishand
prefertomeasurethemassofobjects.

Asaresultoftheactualuseofmassincommerce,inalchemyandlaterchemistry,andinphysics(despite
thenameconfusion),massbecamethefirstofagrowinglistofconservedpropertieswhichplayacrucial
roleinunderstandingtheverynatureofouruniverse.Understandingthevalueofmasswillhelpto
understandotherconservedpropertiessuchasmomentum,energy,baryonnumberandmanysimilar
properties.

therealcauseofmass

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3/7/2017 Expt.III1MassisConserved!

Onemighthavethoughtthatsincewehaveallexperiencedmassandgravityallourlives,weshould
certainlyknowallaboutmassandgravity.Didn'tNewton'sPrincipiaprovidethecompletedetails?
WhileNewtondidprovidethemathematicaldescriptionofgravity(andEinsteinaddedsomedetailsforextreme
situations),westilldonotcompletelyunderstandthecauseofmass.Thisbecameclearerwhenphysicists
figuredoutelectricity,themuchstrongernuclearforce,andevenweaknuclearinteractions.Butthe
summaryofthoseforces,knownastheStandardModel,hassomeinconsistenciesunlessthereismore
toourexplanationofmass.

Manyofthefundamentalparticlesintheuniversehaveset
masses.Buttheoristssuspectthatmassisnotactuallyaproperty
oftheseparticles.Amechanismformasswaspostulatedby
BritishphysicistPeterHiggs(b1929photoatleft)in1964while
walkingtheScottishmountains,andreturnedtohislabdeclaring
hehadhadhisonebigidea.Histheoryhypothesizesthatasort
oflattice,nowreferredtoastheHiggsfield,fillstheuniverse.
Thisisabitlikeanelectromagneticfield,inthatitaffects
particlesthatmovethroughit.Itislikeafamouspersonmoving
withathrongoffanshasinertiacreatedbythesurrounding
crowditishardforthefamouspersontostartmoving,oroncein
motion,changecourseorspeed.Higgssuggestedthesamecould
betrueforparticlesinaHiggsfield:aparticlemovingthroughit
createsalittlebitofdistortionandthatprovidesmasstothe
particledependingontheamountofattractionbytheHiggsfield.

Justasparticlescanbecreatedbyhighenoughenergyaccelerationsinothertypesofforcefields,
accelerationintheHiggsfieldcouldcreatethelastremainingclassofparticleneededtocompletethe
StandardModel:theparticlenamedtheHiggsboson.ThelightestHiggsparticleispredictedtobe
nearlywithintherangethatthemostpowerfuloftheworld'sparticleacceleratorsmightcreate.In
August2000,physicistsworkingatCERN'ssawtracesofparticlesthatmightfittherightpattern,butthe
evidencewasinconclusiveandtheCERNparticleacceleratorwasscheduledtobeshutdownforamajor
upgrade.Asthisisbeingwritten,CERNispreparingtorestartthesearchwithanowmorepowerful
accelerator.ManyscientistsareeagerlyawaitingwhattheyexpecttobethediscoveryofthefirstHiggs
boson!

Experiment
Massistypicallymeasuredwithabalancewhichcomparesanunknownmasswithstandardmasses.
Butmasscanalsobecalculatedbymeasuringaccelerationwithaknownforceorweightinaknown
gravitationalfield.Belowisadiagramofasimpleinertialbalanceconstructedusingasteelstripsuchas
ahacksawbladeusedtocutiron.Itneedstobefirmlyattachedatoneendsothatthesupportdoesnot
movenordistractfromtheblade'smotion.Ifthefreeendisdisplacedtothesidethenreleased,itwill
regularlyoscillatebackandforth.Theoscillationsmaybeslowedbyattachingoneormoremassesto
thefreeend.

Procedure
1.Measurethetimeittakesforthestriptomakeonebackandforthvibrationcalledtheperiod.
2.Doesithelpyouraccuracytotimesay10vibrationsormorethentaketheaverage?
3.Iftheamountthestripispulledbackmore,increasingtheamplitudeofthevibration,howisthe
periodeffected?(i.e.,doesthedeclineinamplitudemakeadifference?)
4.Doesitworkbettertocountthenumberofvibrationsinsayaminutetodeterminethefrequency
ofvibration?Frequency=1/Period.Someasurewhichevergivesthebestresults,then
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3/7/2017 Expt.III1MassisConserved!

calculatetofiguretheotherone.
5.Addmasstoendofthestrip(perhapsclothespins?)and
determinehowincreasingthemasseffectstheperiod(&
frequency).
6.Systematicallyaddmoremass,alwaysatthesame
distanceoutfromthesupport.Measuretheaverage
period,andconstructagraphofperiodversesmass(say
measuredinunitsofthenumberofaddedmasses).Beprepared
tomakeapparatusmodificationsandrepeatpartsofthe
experimentasneeded.Forexample,astrongerbalance
couldbeconstructedbyboltingtwostripstogetherat
bothendswithspacerskeepingthetwostripssome
distanceapartbutparallel.
7.Wouldthegraphbeastraighterlineiffrequencywere
plottedagainstmass?
8.Canthegraphbeextrapolatedbacktodeterminethe
effectiveunloadedmassoftheapparatus?
9.Isitpossibletoattachsomeothermassontothebalanceandmeasureitsmassintermsofthemass
unitsyouareusing?
10.Alternatively,couldyouuseanobjectofknownmass(perhapsacommercialpackagewhichhasitsmassin
gramslabeled)tocalibratethebalancesoitcouldweighunknownmasses?

Communicatingtechnicalinformationsuchasobservationsandfindingsisaskillusedbyscientistsbut
usefulformostothers.Ifyouneedcoursecredit,useyourobservationsinyourjournaltoconstruct
aformalreport.

Finally,itmightbeinterestingtoponderwhatlifewouldbelikeifmasswasnotconserved.Lifewould
bemuchmorecomplicatedifyourownmasschangedevenregularlysothatitwouldtakedifferent
amountsofeffortappliedtoyourlegeventotakeastep!

References
ExperimentmodifiedfromPhysicalScienceStudyCommittee(PSSC)PhysicsLaboratory
Guide,D.C.Heath&EducationalServices,Inc.,1965.ThePSSCeffortswereapioneeringmodel
formostofthesciencereformeffortswhichhavefollowed.
CERN'sLargeHadronColliderdetector
ALEPHexperimentatCERN
OPALexperimentatCERN
L3experimentatCERN
DELPHIexperimentatCERN
Fermilab
TheAirCanada767jetwasabletoglidetoasafelandingatanabandonedmilitaryairfield.Seecalculations.Apdf
filealsohasphotos.

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3/7/2017 Expt.III1MassisConserved!

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