The equation E = m c2 is
perhaps the most well-known equations in physics,
and was deduced by Albert Einstein in 1905.
E represents energy, m represents
mass, and c is the speed of light (a very
large number!). The general idea of the equation
is that mass can be converted into light, and
light can be converted in to mass. The equation
tells how much light or mass would result from
such a conversion.
The sun is an excellent example of the
conversion of mass to energy. As atoms in the sun
undergo fusion, a very small amount of the mass
of those atoms is converted to the sunlight we see
every day. Einstein's equation can tell us
exactly how much light is produced if we know how
much mass has "disappeared" in such a reaction.
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