13 Nov 2013
In Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?), Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw explained “the energy released in chemical reactions has been the primary source of power for our civilization since prehistoric times. The amount of energy that can be liberated for a given amount of coal, oil, or hydrogen is at the most fundamental level determined by the strength of the electromagnetic force, since it’s this force that determines the strength of the bonds between atoms and molecules that are broken and reformed in chemical reactions. However, there’s another force of nature that offers the potential to deliver vastly more energy for a given amount of fuel, simply because it’s much stronger.”
That other force of nature is nuclear fusion, which refers to any process that releases energy as a result of fusing together two or more nuclei. “Deep inside the atom lies the nucleus—a bunch of protons and neutrons stuck together by the glue of the strong nuclear force. Being glued together, it takes effort to pull a nucleus apart and its mass is therefore smaller, not bigger, than the sum of the mass of its individual proton and neutron parts. In contrast to the energy released in a chemical reaction, which is a result of electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force generates a huge binding energy. The energy released in a nuclear reaction is typically a million times the energy released in a chemical reaction.”
“The reason that fusion doesn’t happen all the time in our everyday experience,” Cox and Forshaw explained, “is that, because the strong force operates only over short distances, it only kicks in when the constituents are very close together. But it is not easy to push protons together to that distance because of their electromagnetic repulsion.”
Quite often the reason successful collaboration doesn’t happen is that the algebra of collaboration also requires the collaborators subtract something from the equation—their egos, which generate a strong ego-magnetic repulsion making it far from easy to bind the collaborative team together.
Cox and Forshaw explained it’s because of the equivalence of mass and energy that a loss of mass manifests itself as energy. If we jettison the mass of our egos when forming the bonds of collaboration, then we is smaller than the sum of its me parts, and that loss of me-mass will manifest itself as the we-energy we need to bind our collaborative teams together.