Here's looking at you....image courtesy of NASA

Comets Kick up Dust in Helix Nebula

Einstein’s equation E = MC

 is the most famous equation in the world (it also is the only famous equation in the world), but most people have no idea intuitively why it’s true. Certain aspects of it are easier to grasp than others, and in this case it's why the amount of energy released by splitting an atom is equal to the speed of light squared.

Given that an atom is ‘frozen energy’, which is a whole other topic and not so easy to grasp, the reason energy from mass is precisely equal to the speed of light squared, is because energy always travels at the speed of light–the constant “C” is the speed of light. But what’s that got to do with anything? 

It's because mathematically you represent/calculate acceleration by squaring something. So, when mass turns into energy, that energy released has to go from zero to the speed of light, meaning that it accelerates from 0 MPH to 671 million miles per hour virtually instantaneously, which is C squared. Now that is a lot of energy! The amount of mass determines how much energy is generated, as all that mass, now turned into energy, must travel at the speed of light. Hence mass is multiplied by the speed of light squared.

So that’s why this particular equation makes sense, for those of you who were wondering what the speed of light had to do with anything, and why it’s squared. However, the bigger questions are what exactly is energy, why atoms can be thought of as  ‘frozen’ energy, and what is mass anyway?

And while we're at it, what is outer space…..it’s certainly not like walking in the woods. There is absolutely nothing there in space (not counting stray cosmic dust and energy passing through). If you travel in a spaceship, you are traveling through nothing. It’s odd to think about it–if there is nothing between here and the nearest star, why can’t we just be there? There is “nothing” in the way. But we can’t just be anywhere we want immediately (unless of course we're 'entangled'). And, mass bends 'spacetime' according to Einstein....try thinking about that for a few hours. Or Schrödinger's cat? We'll look at these concepts, but maybe under the "micro dosing" menu.

Remember.....we humans, with perhaps some exceptions, don’t intuitively understand our universe much more than a dog does. We’re actually very much like dogs, watching a garage door open. A dog sees you holding a remote in your hand, then moving some fingers, and presto the door opens. We don't even know that much about the universe.