Did We Get the Fundamentals in Physics Wrong?

Did We Get the Fundamentals in Physics Wrong?


Karunakar Marasakatla 
(June 19
th, 2010)

Abstract: Definition and measurement of the fundamental units is essential to the principles of physics. Distance has an obvious and simple relationship with the measuring scale. Such a relationship is absent in measuring the mass of an object using the balance scale. This is one of the important factors for the present chaotic scenario in the field of physics. 

The concepts of mass and force were deep rooted in the principles of physics. A thought of something wrong with these fundamental concepts is unimaginable. Our whole understanding of physical phenomenon and countless theories are based on these very fundamental concepts. Can these basic concepts stand for scrutiny with simple reasoning?

Measurement of Mass


Mass is defined as the amount of matter inside an object and the matter is defined as the basic particles. Amount by any standard is a count of elements of a particular unit. In the case of mass, it is the count of basic particles inside an object. 

It is not sure of how many basic particles were there in the platinum bar approved as the international standard for a kilogram of mass and went onto to compare that standard kilogram of mass with other objects using a balance scale. Here, the balance scale doesn’t compare the number of basic particles inside an object, rather it compares the amount of gravity earth exerts on each the objects. By comparing the objects using the balance scale, we are equating the gravity of the objects with the amount of matter inside those objects. 

As it is already evident, a group of same number of basic particles will never measure same amount of mass or in other words gravity. Different nuclei with same number of baryons will measure different amount of gravity to the earth. To bridge the gap between the definition and the observed difference in measurement of mass, a fancy word called “deficit of mass” was coined. 

Whatever we do with an object, as long as the number of each type of basic particles within that object remains same then there is no possibility for the mass to be deficit inside that object because the mass is simply particles. The object gains mass if we add a particle to it and the mass will be deficit only when we take out particles from the object. 

We observed deficit of mass in each and every nuclei because we were measuring the mass using a wrong scale. We attributed the deficit of mass to the binding energy inside the nucleus but the binding energy was never part of the definition of mass. Even the standard kilogram of titanium bar also contains millions of atoms and each of those atoms has a nucleus. Each nucleus will have certain amount of binding energy. While manufacturing the standard titanium bar for a kilogram, we never considered the binding energy and the deficit of mass within that bar as part of the standard.  

First of all, with the measurement of mass, we are not sure what the standard mass is meant for and went onto compare that mass using a wrong device. In my opinion, it is similar to measuring the distance in gallons. Mass is one of the fundamental concepts in physics and we got it completely wrong. 

The mass, according to the definition, can only be measured by a count of basic particles. There is no possibility for the mass to be deficit in this scenario. As long as the number of particles were same, irrespective of the shape and size of the object, the mass within that object remains same. Each of the nuclei with same number of baryons should measure same amount of mass.  

But none of the two nuclei with same number of baryons were measuring same amount of mass as we are measuring it today. In reality, they were exhibiting different amount of gravity, not the amount of matter. It means, same amount of matter can exert different amount of gravity to the earth. What makes a nucleus to exert more gravity than the other nucleus with same amount of baryons? Gravity exerted by a nucleus depends upon how closely the matter is grouped together within the nucleus. The same is true for an object as well. If two objects were having same number of particles, the one in which the matter is occupied in less space will exert more gravity to the earth. If we convert the sun to a point size object then that object will exert more gravity than the present volume of the sun. The same amount of matter inside the sun will exert less gravity on earth if its radius increases more than its present size. Pioneer anomaly is due to the additional gravity exerted by the sun when it appears as a point size object from the outskirts of the solar system. 

Distance and the meter have obvious relationship with each other. In the case of mass, the definition and the measurement have no relation to each other. Balance scale was being used for centuries to compare the gravity. Mass was defined around three hundred years ago when the concept of matter was not even existent. The matter, as we call it today, was discovered in the early 1900s. We mixed all these three different things even though there is no commonality between them and went onto build the modern physics based on these loosely coupled fundamental concepts. It is no wonder why we have so many inconceivable theories prevailing in physics at this time.

Concept of Resultant Force


The concepts like force, work, power and energy were developed over the centuries just like the balance scale, definition of mass and the concept of matter. There is lot of overlap between these concepts. The incompleteness between these concepts can easily be made evident with a question like how much gravity is there on an object kept at the center of the earth. 

Let’s assume a one meter diameter hole at the center of the earth and place a half meter diameter object made of iron at the center. Both of these objects are two different objects and they are not touching each other. According to the shell theorem, the gravity between these two objects is zero. It means, nothing happens to the object at the center in this scenario because the forces get cancelled all around the body.  

There is certain amount of gravity between two objects for example earth and moon. We see the strength of gravity between earth and the moon in the form of waves in the ocean. Let’s assume earth and the moon, nothing else in the picture, with the moon revolving around the earth. Let’s keep another object similar to the moon on the other end of the moon’s orbit. Even though the resultant force of the two moons on the earth is zero, the strength of individual moons doesn’t change. In fact the strength of the gravity on the ocean doubles. As a result, we will see two bigger waves in the ocean aligning with the two moons. In the next step, let’s cover the entire orbit of the moon with similar objects in a form of ring around the earth. Approximately we fit around three fifty thousand pairs of moons in the orbit of the moon. Even in this scenario, the resultant force will be zero but the actual strength of gravity pulling the ocean increases by seven hundred thousand times.  Now we will have that many waves covering the entire ocean and it will probably form like a continuous bulge in the ocean.  

Let’s increase the number of moons by covering the entire sky at the orbit of the moon with objects like moon, in a form of shell over the earth. At this stage, the water in the ocean will probably flood the entire earth. Now, let’s cover the moons in a thick layer around the earth from the orbit of the moon to a million miles. All the water and the earth will gradually disintegrate and attach to the inner edge of the moon shell because of the enormous amount of gravity exerted by the moon shell. 

The concept of resultant force only concentrated on the displacement of the object and ignored the effect on the object itself. This led us to ignore one of the important entity in the interactions between objects, i.e. energy. 

I wonder how Newton would have incorporated the energy into his equations if it is known in his period. The concepts of work and energy remained as a patch work over the concepts of force and resultant force. They all never merged seamlessly into each other. 

Gravity is nothing but energy. As more and more moons revolve around an object, the central object goes under tremendous amount of stress and releases energy in keeping the objects in orbit. The recent discovery of Jupiter releasing energy in infrared radiation [1, 2] is due to fact that there are more number of moons revolving around that object. Just like Jupiter, all other planets with moons orbiting around them will release energy. Our star, the sun is no exception. The cause for the brightness of sun is the gravity between the layer of plasma and the core both of which are physically separated. 

The iron sphere kept at the center of the earth will stretch and melt, eventually attaching to the inner side of the hollow earth due to the enormous amount of gravity exerted by the rest of material in the earth from all directions. If we keep more massive object in place of iron sphere at the center of the earth then the earth itself will collapse onto that object.  

From these observations, the standard concepts of mass and force make us to wonder whether we made any mistake in conceiving these concepts. And it does appear to be true.



  1. Jet-Mounted Telescope Sees First Light, (Available at http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/06/sofia-first-light/, June 1, 2010)
  2. Infrared image of the Jupiter taken from SOFIA, (Available at http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/multimedia/imagegallery/SOFIA/JupiterComposite_labeled.html, May 26, 2010)

(Note: This article is a brief summary of my work presented in the book – Gravity from a New Angle, August, 2009)

Categories: Physics

Deficit of Mass: An Unfortunate Development in Physics

November 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Deficit of Mass: An Unfortunate Development in Physics


Karunakar Marasakatla

(Initial post: 11/14/2009, Last modified: 11/23/2009)

Definition of mass and the concept of mass deficit are flawed. The mass of an object, when measured using the balance scale, will be dependent on the volume of the object along with the amount of matter inside the object. Mass deficit is simply the variation in the mass of the object due to the change in volume of the object.

Deficit of mass or mass defect doesn’t describe any physical phenomenon related to an object. It wouldn’t even describe any physical aspect of an object as well. Before exploring the deficit of mass in detail, let’s first look at the mass itself.

Mass can be described as the amount of matter inside an object. The standard definition for the mass is given below.

Mass is the measure of matter in an object. The mass of an object doesn’t change if that object is heated, bent, stretched, squeezed or compressed, or transported from one place to another on earth or even to a position out in space.”

If mass is amount of matter, what is the matter itself? The best definition for the matter is as a thing that causes the mass in an object. Beyond this obscure definition, there is no clear description for the matter.

With mass and matter, we are using one to define the other in a circular fashion.

When we say an object contains 1 kilogram of matter, what exactly the 1 kilogram represents in regard to the object?

·         Is it the color, shape or the volume of the object? Answer is a “No”.

·         Is it the number of basic particles inside the object? Answer is still a “No”. If the mass is a number of basic particles then the mass should be represented in (x, y, z) format in which the x, y and z will be the total number of electrons, protons and neutrons inside the object.

·         Is it the combined mass of the basic particles? Again the answer is a “No”. Combined mass of all the particles in an object will always be more than the mass of the object.

So, the measure of 1 kilogram for the amount of matter inside an object doesn’t represent any physical characteristics of an object. Then, what it means when we say an object contains 1 kilogram of matter? When we measure the mass of loose cotton and an iron bar in a balance scale, we are simply comparing the gravity of the earth to these two objects as they were being pulled down at both ends. If both these objects measure equal amount of gravity, then we say that both of these objects contains same amount of mass or matter. So, the mass, as we measure it today, is simply a comparison of gravity. If one object exerts more gravity to earth then that object can be said to have more mass and if another object exerts less gravity, then it will have less mass.

Strength of gravity an object exerts to earth certainly dependent on the total number of basic particles it contains. This number is certainly not equal in one kilogram of loose cotton and in the same mass of iron bar. Is there any other aspect of these objects influencing to make them equal in mass even though the number of particles was not same in these two objects?

Mass was defined in the works of Isaac Newton around 300 years ago as a constant value for any given object. The concept of mass deficit or mass defect came into picture in the early 20th century after using the definition of mass, as provided by Newton, for about 200 years.  Combined mass of all the basic particles inside an atom turned out to be more than the mass of the individual atom. The difference in mass was described as the mass deficit.  With the addition of mass deficit in physics, one way, we are saying that the mass of an object is fixed and in another way we are accepting the deficit of mass with same amount of basic particles.

If we consider the matter as the number of basic particles in an object and the mass as the amount of matter, then the mass should always be a fixed amount no matter what we do with that object as long as the number of basic particles within that object remains same. Then why physics invoked the “mass deficit” into the picture? Mass deficit is simply an observation. Is there any alternative way to interpret this observation of loss of mass in the atom?

An object will have more binding energy if the particles within that object are close to each other. In similar way, binding energy within the particles will be less if the same particles are further apart.  An one kilogram of iron Sphere will have more binding energy than a thin wire of 1 mm in diameter stretched from end to end made from the same one kilogram of iron.

Binding energy will be maximum when all the particles merge into a single particle or all of them occupy the same space as a single particle. Combined gravity of the particles will increase as they merge into single particle. Mass of the object and the combined mass of all the particles within the object will be equal when all the particles occupy a space equal to a single particle. It means the deficit of mass will be equal to zero when all the particles merge to form a point size object. Mass deficit will increase as the distance between the particles increases. In other words, the object will have less mass or gravity as the volume of the object increases. Amount of mass deficit in an object and the binding energy within that object will be inversely proportional to each other. Mass of the object and the binding energy within that object will be proportional to each other.

In nuclear reaction, an element with high binding energy will be converted into less binding energy elements. The difference in binding energy will be released as the energy. The final products in this reaction will have less binding energy and occupies more space than the initial object. If energy is consumed in a nuclear reaction then the final product will have more binding energy and occupies less space.

Here, we see a clear relationship between the amount of space an object occupies and the amount of gravity it exerts to earth. It means, if matter is compressed or occupies less amount of space, it measures more gravity and if the same amount of matter within the object occupies more space, then it measures less gravity to the earth. Gravity of the object, in other words, the mass of the object depends on the amount of matter inside an object and the amount of space that matter occupies. If an object compresses to a point size then it will have maximum amount of gravity with that particular amount of matter. This observation goes against the definition of mass, which says that the mass doesn’t depend on the size of the object.

Concept of binding energy was misrepresented nuclear physics. If an object releases energy then the final products should have less energy. Mass deficit in the final products was interpreted as the binding energy. As a result, final products were shown as having more binding energy. Point mass object will have zero mass deficit. Then can we say that all the material in a point mass were holding together without any binding energy in the object?

Definition of mass itself was flawed. To make it more authentic, deficit of mass was introduced which in turn made the mass even more complex to comprehend. Scientific community got an excellent opportunity to revise the definition of mass when the deficit in mass was observed. Instead of correcting the definition of mass, it was awkwardly extended to incorporate the deficit of mass. It is the most unfortunate thing to happen in modern science. When mass is simply the strength of gravity then mass deficit can be best described as deficit of gravity due to the change in the internal arrangement of basic particles within that object.

If we call the matter as the number of basic particles in an object, the object exerts more gravity if all that matter occupies less space. If the volume of the same object is more, then the same amount of matter exerts less gravity.  The mass, as we measure it today, is dependent on the size of the object as well as the number of basic particles it contains. The definition of mass and its measurement needs to be redefined to incorporate the amount of matter inside an object as well as its size.  The need for the deficit of mass will be eliminated with the new definition of mass.

Mass is being used in almost every principle within the physics. If the present definition of mass is flawed then all the principles which were dependent on the mass needs to be revisited. Physics is considered as the foundation of all branches of science. If the core concept within the physics is flawed then all our understanding of nature has no base.

Prevailing principles of physics can’t describe beyond the big bang because we don’t differentiate between the matter in the universe and the point size object where all that matter came from. Here, the point mass universe exerts tremendous amount of gravity and the same amount of matter in the present universe exerts less amount of gravity to an external object at same distance from these two forms of universe.

Gravity was assumed as a weak force based on the present definition of mass and the inverse square law of gravity. Inverse square law of gravity inherently uses the definition of mass in its derivation. An object like the sun was compressed to a point size and still mentioned as exerting same amount of gravity. If the definition of mass and the way we measure it is flawed then there is no base for the inverse square law for gravity.

Shell theorem, which was derived using the present definition of mass and the inverse square law of gravity, is also flawed.  Gravity of a sphere to an external object will increase when the size of that object is decreased by keeping the same distance between the two objects.

The simplest explanation for the pioneer anomaly is that the sun exerts more gravity when it looks like a point from the outskirts of solar system.

Note 1: This is a brief summary about the mass described in the book – Gravity from a new angle, which attempts at understanding the true nature of gravity. A chapter on mass from the book is available at the following link:


Note 2: A brief presentation on the definition of mass is available at the following links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6lTiVbL8cs  or  http://www.scivee.tv/node/13471

Categories: Physics