# Is mass a number?

Well, I still believe we have an immediate category error with the concept of mass being a number.

Atoms have mass. Most of the mass is located in the nucleus. The nucleus has a much greater density for its mass than the rest of the atom.

The mass of macroscopic objects depends on the mass of all the atoms, not on how they are arranged. All physical objects, pianos, people, rocks, water or air, accelerate towards the centre of the earth. mostly.

That's what Newton showed; the acceleration does not depend on the "nature" of matter, but the mass or ponderable (weighable) quantity.

That was a while back. James

Mass is never about any number , mass is about the physical qualities , it has .

Actually, the order of elements in the periodic table is based not on the atomic masses, but on the number of protons in an atom of each element.
Numbers. The number of protons gives the number of electrons in each atom. I larned thet one at high school. Also each element has isotopes. I remember an article about this extra part of the periodic table, if you are interested in what they were doing, the authors were studying nuclei with high angular momentum and something called the neutron drip line; just research into the geometry of matter with a high (mass) density. So there are two numbers, not one, for each isotope of a given element. The periodic table is an ordered set. This is something you should know about if you study almost any subject in physics. It's not some kind of deep insight either.
Physical" is a weasel word you're using. Its definition can float around and be whatever you need it to be.
The hell it can. Physics is not something you can tell lies about, James.

But that's not the problem that arfa brane is having here. arfa seems to think that "mass" is something inherent in an object, rather than just being a number with units that we associate with an object.
James, mass is something inherent in an object, it's inherent in the protons and neutrons in an atomic nucleus. Just being a number with units is what we say, or you say this thing is. But matter "owns" it.

--you say you can't take a photo, so what? What does that even mean? I say it's a meaningless counter, a ticket with a hole already in it. A non-euphemistic something on a stick.
A non-meaningful objection to a thing that isn't there.

Atoms have mass.
There is a number called "the mass of the atom" that can be associated with an atom.
Most of the mass is located in the nucleus.
Most of the matter is located in the nucleus. The mass is all in your head.
The nucleus has a much greater density for its mass than the rest of the atom.
Yes.
The mass of macroscopic objects depends on the mass of all the atoms, not on how they are arranged. All physical objects, pianos, people, rocks, water or air, accelerate towards the centre of the earth. mostly.

That's what Newton showed; the acceleration does not depend on the "nature" of matter, but the mass or ponderable (weighable) quantity.
None of this was ever in dispute.

Numbers. The number of protons gives the number of electrons in each atom.
For a neutral atom, yes.
I larned thet one at high school. Also each element has isotopes. I remember an article about this extra part of the periodic table, if you are interested in what they were doing, the authors were studying nuclei with high angular momentum and something called the neutron drip line; just research into the geometry of matter with a high (mass) density. So there are two numbers, not one, for each isotope of a given element. The periodic table is an ordered set. This is something you should know about if you study almost any subject in physics. It's not some kind of deep insight either.
How is any of this relevant?
The hell it can. Physics is not something you can tell lies about, James.
Define "physical", then. I'm wasn't talking about what Physics, in the abstract, has to say. I was talking specifically about how you have been using that word.
James, mass is something inherent in an object, it's inherent in the protons and neutrons in an atomic nucleus. Just being a number with units is what we say, or you say this thing is. But matter "owns" it.
Do you really think that repeating yourself over and over again is adding strength to your case? You need to bring more than just your assertion or opinion if you want to establish your position as fact.

Besides, I have already addressed every single point you have raised here, in some detail, in previous posts. Weren't you paying attention? Or have you already forgotten?

Matter "owns" its mass in approximately the same way that you "own" your opinion that green is the best colour. It's your opinion. It's a feature of you. That doesn't mean it's a part of you, in the way that your arm or your eye is part of you. Rather it is something that can be associated with you.
--you say you can't take a photo, so what? What does that even mean?
It means that "mass" is not a substance. Substances can be photographed, bottled, etc.

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Matter "owns" its mass in approximately the same way that you "own" your opinion that green is the best colour. It's your opinion.
There's the disconnect.
It means that "mass" is not a substance. Substances can be photographed, bottled, etc.
Define substance? Is it what you usually mean by a material substance? Where does the requirement come from that says material substances, whatever they might be, can be bottled or photographed? How do you define bottling or photographing? What tools do you need in order to specify what you mean, by bottle or bottling? What motivation can you cite? Will you make references to previous results or start from a set of axioms?

I can state definitively that the gravitational field of the earth is not part of me. A different opinion has FA to do with it.
Your idea that the mass of the earth--the amount of matter in the earth's volume--is a number is not a useful idea.

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About the level of ridiculous this particular back and forth has circled.

Mass in a given volume = amount of matter in the same volume.
If you want to make a bottle out of a material substance, it will be an amount of matter, in a given volume.

Then saying "you can't put mass in a bottle" is just. Ridiculous. It already has mass. We did that didn't we?
James idea is propped up by ridiculous claims and obfuscations. The most ridiculous thing here, is he still thinks there's a hole in what I'm saying.

"Mass is not a substance" is some kind of misconception. Mass density is synonymous with amount of matter in a volume. Matter is by definition any substance or material. It's also physical, ergo mass is physical. Not an idea or just a number

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arfa brane:
Define substance?
Suppose I define it as "something made from atoms", for starters. Does that make it easier for you?
Where does the requirement come from that says material substances, whatever they might be, can be bottled or photographed? How do you define bottling or photographing?
Perhaps it would be even easier for you if we just restrict our consideration to one specific object, for now, since you seem to be struggling mightily with generalities.

Let's just talk about a rock that is just a nice size to hold in your hand. That specific example should be enough to help sort out your issues and answer your questions.

The rock is made of atoms. Do you agree?
The rock will be visible in a photograph, if we take a photograph of the rock. Agreed?
The rock can fit into an average-sized bottle. (Let's assume it is small enough to fit through the opening at the top, for simplicity). Do you agree?

In answer to your questions, regarding this specific example of the rock....
I define bottling as the act of putting the rock into the bottle using my hand.
I define photographing as the act of pulling out my mobile phone, selecting the "camera" app, and using the phone's camera to capture an image of the rock.

Do you agree that these things are possible for our hypothetical rock?
What tools do you need in order to specify what you mean, by bottle or bottling?
I need a bottle, for the bottling. I need my hand, to put the rock in the bottle. I need my phone to photograph the rock. Is that sufficient explanation for you?
What motivation can you cite?
My motivation is to try to teach you about the nature of mass. Is that a suitable enough motivation for you?
Will you make references to previous results or start from a set of axioms?
Do you think you'll need references before you can accept my statements regarding the rock in my example?
----
Now, before we move on, let us compare.

You say this rock of mine has mass, and moreover that its mass is contained (somehow) within in the rock.

Can I take the mass out of the rock using my hand?
Can I extract the mass that's in the rock and put it into the bottle, separate from the rock?
Can I photograph the rock's mass using my phone? That is, specifically, I'd like to capture an image showing the rock's mass (and only the rock's mass).

If I can't do these things, then where is this mass that's "in" the rock, according to you? Why is it inaccessible to observation?
I can state definitively that the gravitational field of the earth is not part of me.
Okay.
Your idea that the mass of the earth--the amount of matter in the earth's volume--is a number is not a useful idea.
Let's sort out whether it's a correct idea, first. Then we can discuss its usefulness. Okay?
Mass in a given volume = amount of matter in the same volume.
No. I've already walked you through that error of yours.
If you want to make a bottle out of a material substance, it will be an amount of matter, in a given volume.
Okay.
Then saying "you can't put mass in a bottle" is just. Ridiculous. It already has mass.
I've already schooled you about what "having mass" actually means. Either reply to the points I've put to you, or bow out gracefully. You don't get to pretend I didn't explain it to you.
James idea is propped up by ridiculous claims and obfuscations.
Not at all. Either you're a functional idiot who is actually incapable of following a simple line of thought, or you're a guy who actually understands what was put to him but whose ego is too big to allow him to admit he was in error. Which is it?
"Mass is not a substance" is some kind of misconception.
Then show me a bottle full of mass. I'll settle for a photograph of a bottle full of mass, if you can produce one.

You don't get to keep making that claim over and over without producing the goods that you claim exist.
Mass density is synonymous with amount of matter in a volume.
No. We've been through this. "Mass density" is a number, defined as the ratio of mass (a number) to volume (another number).

If you think otherwise, show me a bottle full of mass density.
Matter is by definition any substance or material.
Okay.
It's also physical, ergo mass is physical.
You have yet to provide any coherent definition that explains your use of the word "physical". You seem to mean different things at different times, when you claim things are "physical". You should aim for some consistency.

Then show me a bottle full of mass. I'll settle for a photograph of a bottle full of mass, if you can produce one.
You're saying that making a bottle out of matter means it has mass, but you can't put mass in it.
James, I went over that with you. Anything made of matter has mass in it. A bottle made of matter does too. What the hell is your question, about putting mass in a bottle that has mass, actually about?

It doesn't ask anything meaningful. It's a stupid question.
"Mass density" is a number, defined as the ratio of mass (a number) to volume (another number).

If you think otherwise, show me a bottle full of mass density.
Mass is not a number, you idiot. Your "show me a bottle full" showstopper, is also stupid. Ridiculously stupid. It's not science, it's not physics.

I don't believe a word of your bullshit.
It is bullshit, James. All of it.

Please stop making yourself look like a stupid bullshitter. Please stop trying to "teach" me or anyone else, you aren't very good at it. Please just shut the hell up James.

It means that "mass" is not a substance. Substances can be photographed, bottled, etc.
Bullshit.
A substance is a substance; any material, physical substance made of atoms has mass. A substance is not "made out of" mass, it's made out of matter.
Mass is one property of matter, mass is the reason objects made out of matter also have inertia. Matter made out of atoms occupies a volume because each atom does. Did you fall asleep during class, James? Had better things to think about?
James R said:
"Mass density" is a number, defined as the ratio of mass (a number) to volume (another number).
A cubic metre is a number? Why does a volume have three dimensions? Please don't try to answer that, for god's sake.
If mass is a number, as you keep insisting, how do you give this number a volume? How does a number get inertia? What kind of mathematical tricks are required?
How does a volume become a number, James? You can't explain any of it can you? It doesn't make much sense, because it's bullshit from start to end.
Complete bullshit. Nothing you claim can be found in any textbook, James. How can you explain that?

Wait, don't bother

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Bullshit.
A substance is a substance; any material, physical substance made of atoms has mass. A substance is not "made out of" mass, it's made out of matter.
Mass is one property of matter, mass is the reason objects made out of matter also have inertia. Matter made out of atoms occupies a volume because each atom does. Did you fall asleep during class, James? Had better things to think about?
A cubic metre is a number? Why does a volume have three dimensions? Please don't try to answer that, for god's sake.
If mass is a number, as you keep insisting, how do you give this number a volume? How does a number get inertia? What kind of mathematical tricks are required?
How does a volume become a number, James? You can't explain any of it can you? It doesn't make much sense, because it's bullshit from start to end.
Complete bullshit. Nothing you claim can be found in any textbook, James. How can you explain that?

Wait, don't bother

Brilliant . arfa brane .

arfa brane:

You're saying that making a bottle out of matter means it has mass, but you can't put mass in it.
Yes.
James, I went over that with you. Anything made of matter has mass in it.
You didn't show me your photograph of some mass. Have you got one yet?
What the hell is your question, about putting mass in a bottle that has mass, actually about?
At this stage, I doubt you're capable of understanding my question. If you're for real and not just feigning idiocy, that is.
It doesn't ask anything meaningful. It's a stupid question.
Perhaps if you tried reading my entire posts rather than just random snippets, you'd get a better understanding.
Mass is not a number, you idiot.
Yes it is, you idiot. (See how effective argument by assertion and insult is? Hint: not at all effective. Rude too.)
I don't believe a word of your bullshit.
I can't tell whether you're trolling or actually stupid. I don't think you're worth wasting any more time on, at least on this particular topic.
Please stop making yourself look like a stupid bullshitter. Please stop trying to "teach" me or anyone else, you aren't very good at it. Please just shut the hell up James.
The real problem is that you aren't a very good learner. The problem's entirely at your end, as far as I can tell. Some people are actually unteachable. You may well be one of them. The ones who are unteachable are usually the ones who have no interest in learning in the first place. That's probably you, too - at least on this particular topic. All you seem to want to do is to throw insults around. You can't actually cope with the content of this discussion.
A substance is a substance; any material, physical substance made of atoms has mass. A substance is not "made out of" mass, it's made out of matter.
None of that is in dispute.
Mass is one property of matter, mass is the reason objects made out of matter also have inertia.
No. Objects have inertia because they are made out of matter, not because they "have mass". Mass is a property that quantifies inertia, but it doesn't cause inertia. How could a concept cause something physical?
Matter made out of atoms occupies a volume because each atom does.
Atoms occupy space. You can call it volume if you like. However, that threatens to put you on the same slippery slope you're on with mass - to reify a concept, making a basic category error in the process.
Did you fall asleep during class, James? Had better things to think about?
On occasion, yes. I still achieved excellent results in my exams etc., however.
A cubic metre is a number?
Yes. So is a metre.
Why does a volume have three dimensions? Please don't try to answer that, for god's sake.
Okay.
If mass is a number, as you keep insisting, how do you give this number a volume?
I don't.
How does a number get inertia?
It doesn't. Are you actually an idiot? Do you think this straw man thing you're trying to set up is fooling somebody?
How does a volume become a number, James?
We define it that way.
You can't explain any of it can you?
Oh for God's sake, arfa brane. I've patiently explained it over and over in this thread, ad nauseam. What is wrong with you, man? Do you have a brain injury, or an illness, perhaps? Something must explain this. I hope you're just trolling, for your sake. Otherwise, at this point, I'm actually worried about your mental health.
Nothing you claim can be found in any textbook, James.
That's a strange thing for you to say. How could you possibly make that kind of silly claim with any confidence? As if you're aware of the contents of all textbooks! Get over yourself.

Brilliant . arfa brane .
You've found a fan, arfa brane!

Aren't you proud of the company you attract?

To the universe at large:

Is anybody else reading this thread, apart from arfa brane, myself and river?

If so, are any of you still confused about my position on the ontological status of mass, like arfa brane is?

Is arfa brane just incredibly obtuse, in your opinion, or is there a problem with my communication on this topic?

I need a reality check.

James is a great example of corruption in science. Corrupt Morons abusing their position of power for personal gain.

Arfa, you are wasting your time trying to teach James something, he is not open to learning, only defending his stupidity.

I should note that Motor Daddy is disgruntled because I issued him with two moderator warnings - the most recent just in the last hour or two. He's blowing off steam by trying to flame me.

A better move might be to take some time out and cool down.

I note that you have now made a serious accusation against me: that I engage in corrupt practices in relation to science, in some way.

I now ask you to provide at least one example of my corrupt scientific practices, or else withdraw your unfounded (and unfriendly) accusation and apologise to me.

Show us that you're not just a guy having a temper tantrum because he was received a warning from a moderator. Show us you have some integrity.

I should note that Motor Daddy is disgruntled because I issued him with two moderator warnings - the most recent just in the last hour or two. He's blowing off steam by trying to flame me.

A better move might be to take some time out and cool down.

I note that you have now made a serious accusation against me: that I engage in corrupt practices in relation to science, in some way.

I now ask you to provide at least one example of my corrupt scientific practices, or else withdraw your unfounded (and unfriendly) accusation and apologise to me.

Show us that you're not just a guy having a temper tantrum because he was received a warning from a moderator. Show us you have some integrity.

You ignore my reporting of people that break the rules, and in return claim I am "whining." Whining? Really? Is that what it is when people report violations of the rules?

...or is it that you are a corrupt moderator, protecting your buddies (or sock puppets of yourself) and then issue warnings to people that aren't in your click. You are the definition of corruption, James.

You should be stripped of your Moderator duties and banned from this board for being such a piece of shit moderator!

Your lack of integrity is not acceptable and in no way should you be a practicing physicist. You are a dishonest HACK!

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You ignore my reporting of people that break the rules, and in return claim I am "whining." Whining? Really? Is that what it is when people report violations of the rules?
I did not ignore any of the reports you filed. I rejected them because they were frivolous. In my estimation, you were trying to clog up our report system in "revenge" for having been moderated for the behaviour you were ostensibly filing complaints about. Regardless of whether I am correct about that, though, your reports did not warrant moderator action against other members of sciforums. In several cases, the very posts you complained about were in response to provocations that you posted yourself on the public forums. What kind of response did you expect? Stop assuming that other people are stupid.
...or is it that you are a corrupt moderator, protecting your buddies (or sock puppets of yourself) and then issue warnings to people that aren't in your click.
It ought to go without saying that it would be the height of hypocrisy for me, as an administrator of this forum, to use any sock puppet, while expecting all other members to retain only one identify on the forum. I tell you now that I have no sock puppets here. There's just me, posting under the name James R. You can believe what you like, but if you're going to make personal accusations you should have the basic decency to try to support your accusations with appropriate evidence.

You're currently acting like a baby having a temper tantrum. In the process, you're also being a dick. You should stop it.
You are the definition of corruption, James.
That's twice you have made that accusation, now. You will need to attempt to support it or else retract it. While I am very tolerant, and while I understand your desire to let off steam, I have to draw a line. This is unacceptable behaviour.
You should be stripped of your Moderator duties and banned from this board for being such a piece of shit moderator!
You're very welcome to that opinion, of course. Feel free to join the long line of disgruntled posters and ex-members who hold a grudge because they behaved badly and I moderated them. For some of them, I'm still in their brainspace years after the fact. It's not a healthy obsession. I wouldn't recommend it.
Your lack of integrity is not acceptable and in no way should you be a practicing physicist.
That's three times you have made an unsupported accusation against me. You know what you need to do. Find some evidence, or retract and apologise.
You are a dishonest HACK!
You're a cry baby. Grow up.

It's a waste of time responding to you.

I think I deserve a response: retract and apologise, or try to support the accusations you've made.

Those would be the decent things to do. Don't you think?

Should we perhaps set a reasonable time limit for you to respond, publically?