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This question was closed for lack of clarity. Although it's a bit awkwardly worded, I think the clear intention was to ask "Why does the speed of light show up in an equation that relates mass to energy?", which seems like a reasonable question for someone who has not studied relativity. I think it should be reopened.

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  • $\begingroup$ The question was edited significantly by OP a couple hours after this Meta post was made. To me, the edits seems to make the question less clear rather than more clear... $\endgroup$
    – hft
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ @hft: I agree. I have retracted my reopen vote. $\endgroup$
    – WillO
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 15:03

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The question has "Not speed of light" in the title, and later says

I’m not talking about the math working out, or why it needs to be $c^2$. But rather, what is the nature/essence of light that allows it to be a conversion factor?

I don't understand what that means. It seems to be specifying that it is not about why the speed of light appears—but rather about whether there is something intrinsic about light itself. However, since it is the speed of light, not "light" in the abstract that appears in the equation, I don't understand what the querent is trying to ask about. So it does not seem surprising to me that other users voted to close the question as unclear.

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    $\begingroup$ I didn’t get there in time to vote to close it, but I also would have closed it for this same reason. They specifically said not the speed of light so I don’t think that @WillO is correct about their intention. They should edit to clarify through the usual process. $\endgroup$
    – Dale
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 2:18
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    $\begingroup$ Having reread the question, I agree with you (and with @Dale). My memory is hazy, but I suspect I formed an idea of the OP's intent that was based more on my preconceptions than on the actual post. $\endgroup$
    – WillO
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 11:53
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Please help me! I’m not stupid, I just need some help. I’m a medical doctor not a physicist. I’m new here and I don’t understand why I keep getting shut down? My question is basically: “Why does the speed of light show up in an equation that relates mass to energy?" I don’t understand why this phrasing is more elegant. But YES this is what I want to know. What should I do now? I have asked this question to many cosmologists, mathematicians and physicists. Everybody relates it back to making the math work. But I think I’m asking a more profound question. Thanks Peter I really appreciate your understanding.

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    $\begingroup$ I think that if you asked your question as phrased here, it would be much better received. $\endgroup$
    – WillO
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ I see you've changed the title but have retained the incomprehensible (to me and I suspect to everyone) request for answers that address the "essence of light". $\endgroup$
    – WillO
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ It may seem odd if you're not a serious student of physics but physics is just a search for better and better models for the way the universe behaves on different scales. There may not actually be an explanation (from physics alone) as to why things like e.g. why the fundamental constants are the values they are. I think most physicists would like it if there was a way to work those out just with physics (yet undiscovered theories), but we don't know if that's possible at all. A more profound answer is not really there beyond the theory of relativity. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ I have voted to reopen. The issue for me was the contradiction between "not the speed of light" in the title and then the question is about $c^2$. That is now resolved with the most recent edit $\endgroup$
    – Dale
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 23:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Ramone What do you find lacking about my answer to your closed question? $\endgroup$
    – hft
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 0:56

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