183 – E=mc2 and Me …

I have never been good at mathematics. I didn’t even try when I was in school. Although I can understand the allure of numbers and equations, they always seemed not just beyond me but beyond the capacity to explain what is profoundly important to me: The emergence of conscious self-reflection in Life. Fortunately, I am good at seeing patterns and their logic, and so I was able to survive not only school but my tenure in the financial industry while sifting for meaning in mathematical theories.

My early realization of the fact that I am particularly bad at mathematics brought me to the conclusion that the only way to begin to understand what I am in the scheme of the Universe was by applying what we already know about the physical theories to my own body, to my own life, to my own experience; in other words, making myself an experimental tool.

My interest in Relativity started with Einstein’s ideas and their impact in the way we understand our Universe. The profundity of his insight fascinated me – a mind that, with a simple equation, E=mc2, encapsulated a fundamental property of Nature. And so, without previous education in these matters, I embarked on a quest to try to understand the meaning of the famous equation by applying it to me. Most books on the subject were prominently mathematical, full of charts and equations, but I persisted in finding the meaning of the equation between the lines. And guided mainly by his own description of the equation on the 1905 paper: “The mass of a body is a measure of its energy content,” I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The mass of a body is a measure of its energy content. [1] How does this apply to my own body?

I know that my body is made out of atoms at the most basic level and that atoms are fundamentally condensations of mass and reservoirs of energy. Therefore, I am a condensation of mass and a reservoir of energy at the most basic level.

The mass of my body was easy to figure out: It is what has grown out of two cells into a 5.10” tall, 150 lb. organism; it is what I can touch, what I can weigh, what I can measure, what I can play with; it is what breathes and eats and moves and acts, it is what consumes and dissipates; it is what directs me to sit down or walk; it is what hurts and makes me uncomfortable when I am injured or get sick.

The energy was more elusive. What is that portion of me, the measure of which is equivalent to the content of my mass times the speed of Light squared?

I started comprehending what this immense amount of energy is when I realized that what I’ve learned to be immaterial – mind, thought, ingenuity, curiosity, focus, persistence, imagination – is physical energy, the energy that I can perceive and measure. I am not only the energy I metabolize and transform into physical acts like motion and action, I am also the physical energy I generate when I am thinking, imagining, focusing, calculating, learning; the physical energy of decisions with the power to change the course of my life, and decisions that can sometimes change the lives of others; I am the physical energy of a mind endowed with the power to impact my own development and, sometimes, the development of the world in which I exist.

For me, there is no clearer example of the power contained in a human mind as that of Einstein’s encapsulation of a universal property in e=mc2.

[1] Highlight mine

Revised January 2021   

Note: New posts are usually published on the 1st and 15th of the month. To subscribe to the Blog, click on the RSS feeder (orange icon) on the Home page’s left column, down below the Archives.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply