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Name: Jesse C.
Status: student
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 11/2/2003


Question:
I know that the closer you get to the speed of light the more mass you gain...so if you get infinitely close to that speed than you have infinite mass or something like that. Well, if you have infinite mass, that means you have infinite gravitational force, right? If that is true, does that mean you become the center of the universe since all things would then be infinitely drawn to you? Would then everything be forced to fit inside your center of gravity? Wouldn't you then become the thing that the universe is inside of? Kind of a stretch, but I am curious to know what having infinite mass would be like. I would think that having infinite of anything would then mean that the normal effect of that property would then become infinite as well. Like if I could write infinitely fast than I would fill an infinite amount of pieces of paper instantly. Does that principle extend to gravity? Would having infinite mass mean that you would me the universe because if you have infinite mass, doesn't that mean that there can be mass no where else? How could you add something to infinity? Wouldn't all mass have to be contained within your infinite stores of it? Please let me know. Thanks.


Replies:
Jesse,

Several factors prevent this problem from ever happening: First, it is not possible to accelerate an object to infinite mass. It would require infinite energy. As the object gets closer to the speed of light, as the object becomes more massive, pushes and pulls from around it have less and less effect on it. Second, the universe might be drawn to it but not for long. As objects sped up, the first thing would appear to slow down. It would then appear to have less mass again. Third, the other objects would have to build up to the speed of light before they could even try to catch it. This would require more energy from the original object than it had. For one star to bring a galaxy up to the star's speed is not physically possible.

You do not need to worry about such a situation. Only massless objects travel at the speed of light. Strangely, objects with zero mass always travel at the speed of light. One of these, of course, is light. Another is a gluon within a nucleus of an atom.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Professor
Illinois Central College



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