Why does momentum depend on inertia?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Momentum is characterized in terms of inertial mass for particles moving at less than the speed of light, but entirely in terms of their energy for those lacking inertia. Does this difference suggest a physically distinct origin of momentum in the two cases and, if so, what is actually being conserved in interactions involving both types of particle? In this paper, we consider a recently proposed gravitational origin for rest-mass energy to demonstrate that a single definition of momentum applies to all particles, massless or otherwise. When introduced into this description, inertial mass is merely a surrogate for the particle's 'free' energy, but does not imply an origin of momentum different from that of particles without mass.

Keywords

  • apparent horizon
  • cosmology
  • gravitational mass
  • inertial mass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematical Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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