back to article One thought equivalent to less than a single proton in mass

A headline in the venerable New Scientist magazine "Protons are lighter than thought" has prompted El Reg's Standards Bureau to consider the notion of thought as a small unit of mass. It was believed that the proton was about 0.877 femtometres, less than a trillionth of a millimetre. But now scientists have found the subatomic …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    Well it's known...

    that it's harder to think positive thoughts than negative thoughts, so presumably catcogitates are heavier than ancogitates.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Well it's known...

      Come on, not the perennial joke about the electron on the shrink's couch.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Well it's known...

        It's far, far harder to be neutral!

  2. katrinab Silver badge

    I tried to do the maths, and came up with a division by zero error.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Joke

      For future reference, breaking it down it single steps, ie "do the math", makes it easier to find your mistake.

      And, of course, less thinking of heavy thoughts reduces the likelihood of neck strain or, worse, whiplash,

  3. Alister Silver badge

    The Register wonders how many Katie Hopkins columns it would take to amass a single unit?

    More than she could ever write before the heat-death of the universe...

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Unhappy

      The sad fact is that Hopkins puts a lot of thought into the poisonous bile she writes which is crafted and honed to radicalise and inflame hatred.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Not sure that one needs to put all that much thought into such things. Simply mentioning specific keywords is usually enough to get the target base all riled up.

        In other words : just wave the red flag aggressively, the bulls will charge soon enough.

      2. The Axe

        @Jason Bloomberg, So you think that the whole public is pristine and innocent and kind and gentle and it's Hopkins articles that make them hate others? Do you not think that she is just saying stuff that many of the public already agree with?

        1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

          @The Axe: I know full well that there are plenty of racists, bigots and other haters out there. And, no, I don't think they only exist or are how they are because of what Hopkins writes. What Hopkins does is deliberately fan the fires of hatred.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          So you think that the whole public is pristine and innocent and kind and gentle

          There's plenty of crummy people around...

          and it's Hopkins articles that make them hate others? Do you not think that she is just saying stuff that many of the public already agree with?

          ...and confirmation of the legitimacy of their views by seeing similar views in print, in newspapers, will lead to trouble.

          If you don't push back against shit opinions, then one day those with such opinions will attract sufficient backing to get elected. Then they stop being opinions; they start becoming policy, with the ability to enact them.

          It's all too easy for those with comfortable, easy going liberal views and lifestyles to assume that everyone else shares the same ideals, and that there's no need to proactively maintain an equitable status quo. Biggest mistake ever. The USA got Trump. We nearly ended up with an incompetent Trotsky-ist with as much of an idea of how to be prime minister and run a country as a rotten turnip, because too many Labour MPs thought he'd never win their leadership election and then too many voters took his oh-so dubious promises to heart without any idea what the consequences would be (tanked economy, crippling borrowing rates, rampant strikes, no jobs, no money).

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          2. Mooseman Silver badge

            " We nearly ended up with an incompetent Trotsky-ist with as much of an idea of how to be prime minister and run a country as a rotten turnip"

            Instead we get a dictatorial incompetent who appoints other incompetents to handle delicate negotiations. Its funny how mildly socialist views are now seen as Trotskyist. Is the Swedish government marxist or trostskyist? Many European governments hold similar views to Corbyn, oddly none of them are labelled quite so aggressively. Crippling borrowing rates? Like our 1.7 TRILLION debt - more than all labour governments in history combined? You buy into the tory dogma that any social spending is bad for the country - well, from the perspective of the very wealthy it certainly is, why waste money on the peasants you could squirrel away overseas for yourself?

      3. Addanc

        Dons tin hat.

        Her comments pale in comparison to the bigoted racist hypocritical left wing rubbish spouted by the likes of the Gruniad and BBC.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd have thought that her writings were anti-mass, given the way they seem to repel people / inanimate objects

    3. MyffyW Silver badge

      Katie Who?

      The best thing you can do is ignore her.

  4. Andytug

    Well given that said columns are basically a vacuum

    the number of them needed to make the mass of a proton approaches infinity.

    Which means presumably you could now reference "the speed of a sheep in a Katie Hopkins column"?

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Well given that said columns are basically a vacuum

      Interesting thought, which raises the question whether the column is vacuum, or merely vacuous? I would suggest the latter, as a true vacuum is so full of bovine excrement, which would exert a noticeable drag force on any sheep

      1. Fink-Nottle
        Coat

        Re: Well given that said columns are basically a vacuum

        Of course the standing of a column is in direct proportion to the number of potential speaking engagements it engenders - that is, it has a height equivalent to the theoretical plate.

      2. Esme

        Re: Well given that said columns are basically a vacuum

        @MHFW - egad, I do believe you've solved a major problem in astrophysics! So that's what dark matter probably is!

  5. TRT Silver badge

    "Of course, we know that thoughts are generated by the firing of neurons in the brain"

    "...and don't have a physical weight."

    Well, given that neuronal firing is a synonym for the rapid movement of ions across a neuronal membrane, there would be a shift in mass involved. I'm sure someone could work it out if it actually achieved anything by doing so.

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: "Of course, we know that thoughts are generated by the firing of neurons in the brain"

      "...and don't have a physical weight."

      That's a weight off my mind...

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: "Of course, we know that thoughts are generated by the firing of neurons in the brain"

      Well, given that neuronal firing is a synonym for the rapid movement of ions across a neuronal membrane, there would be a shift in mass involved.

      However, a swift kick to the head to dislodge some stuck thoughts doesn't usually achieve the desired results.

      But we have to experimentally validate to see if that is actually is the case, and in the process we might indeed find a value for the mass of a thought, by applying standard kicks to the head (calibrated in NorrisLinguini) and averaging the number of unstuck thoughts resulting from that.

  6. Red Ted
    Thumb Up

    Original thought

    Would it have to be an original thought to have mass?

    Thus as the sum of human knowledge increases, it becomes less likely to have an original thought.

    So perhaps thoughts gain mass as time goes on. To know everything would require more mass than exists in the universe, perhaps?

    1. Pete 2

      Re: Original thought

      > Would it have to be an original thought to have mass?

      I suspect thoughts are entangled, which is how the same one can appear to be in many places at the same time. If so, there are only original thoughts.

      1. Meph
        Coat

        Re: Original thought

        "I suspect thoughts are entangled"

        Would this make the human brain the original quantum computer?

        To put it another way: Schrödinger's thought process -> a human is both smart and incredibly stupid simultaneously, and listening to their thoughts changes the outcome?

        I know, I know, mine's the one with poison in one pocket and a kitten in the other.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      Zeno's thoughts measurement

      To know everything would require more mass than exists in the universe, perhaps?

      At the very least, knowing everything there is to know would make the total mass of all thought a new data point which has to be known, increasing yet again the total mass of all thought, etc.

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Wouldn't Katie Hopkins' "thoughts" be anti-thoughts, so we have to look at anti-protons? (and yes, those have the (positive) same mass as protons, but it's the thought that counts)

    Alternatively, given the often self-contradictory nature of what passes for thoughts in her case, some particle that is its own antiparticle (a Majorana fermion) would be suitable. As the most probable candidate for such a particle is the neutrino, which has near zero mass, this might be ideal

    1. My Alter Ego

      Damn it. You got in there before me.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      I was wondering if scientists ought to be examining Katie Hopkins brain. It could well be where all the missing dark matter of the universe is hiding now that we think thoughts might have mass. She certainly seems to have a lot of dark thoughts.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        I was wondering if scientists ought to be examining Katie Hopkins brain.

        First... they would have to find it before they can examine it. Electron microscope?

  8. Richard Tobin

    Confused units

    "It was believed that the proton was about 0.877 femtometres, less than a trillionth of a millimetre. But now scientists have found the subatomic particle is 30 billionths of a per cent lighter than that estimate."

    0.877 femtometres is a length. You can't be 30 billionths of a percent lighter than a length.

    1. Julian Bradfield

      Re: Confused units

      Indeed. I think the - what should we call it, writard? - is confusing the proton radius puzzle - where the radius seems to be smaller than we thought - with the current article's measurement of the mass.

      1. Spacedinvader
        Happy

        Re: Confused units

        Writard, I like that. It's definitely nicer that re(por)tard.

      2. Dick Pountain

        Re: Confused units

        Indeed: a person crueller than I might consider the whole piece innumerate tosh. Thoughts do of course have "physical weight" (what other sort is there? Spiritual, literary I guess). The firing of a neuron occurs through passage of many neurotransmitter molecules across a synaptic gap, and they have a finite molecular weight.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Confused units

      How many parsecs did it take to write this article, one wonders...

      1. AdamT

        Re: Confused units

        oh, less than 12 I'd guess.

      2. Dr. Ellen
        Pint

        Re: Confused units

        Five parsecs. They wrote it on the Kessel run.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Confused units

        I think the same as the Alderaan run...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: Confused units

      I think I lost brain cells, and thus brain weight, just trying to read this article. :(

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Confused units

        @technicalben My brain cells have been replaced by plaques. Most noticeably a blue one with 'Tom lived here'

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Confused units

          Perhaps someone in this thread has had their mind twisted enough to tell me why a raven is like a writing desk?

          1. Captain DaFt

            Re: Confused units

            "Perhaps someone in this thread has had their mind twisted enough to tell me why a raven is like a writing desk?"

            Oh, that's simple: The notes that they're normally noted for are not musical notes.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Coat

            "why is a raven like a writing-desk?"

            Poe wrote on both.

            1. Swarthy

              Re: "why is a raven like a writing-desk?"

              "They've gone stark raven mad!"

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Confused units

          My brain cells have been replaced by plaques. Most noticeably a blue one with 'Tom lived here'

          So they've all been dead for number of years? I believe that's one of the requirements for listing under the Blue Plaque scheme..

    4. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Confused units

      The Register wonders how many Katie Hopkins columns it would take to amass a single unit?

      The units are indeed confused. Katie Hopkins columns are so insubstantial they actually have no mass at all. The appropriate unit to use therefore is the 'nat' from Shannon information theory, as her columns convey precisely zero information.[1]

      [1] Although they may leak information about herself.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Confused units

        "[...] Katie Hopkins columns are so insubstantial they actually have no mass at all. [...] as her columns convey precisely zero information.[1]

        [1] Although they may leak information about herself.

        I'm not a physicist, but this kinda sounds a bit like a reverse black hole.

        Maybe we could call this phenomenom "Hopkins radiation"?

    5. bob, mon!
      Boffin

      Re: Confused units

      Q. "How high is green?"

      A. "The faster, the smarter."

      1. Primus Secundus Tertius

        Re: Confused units

        @bob

        Wrong question. How high is a Chinaman.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Confused units

          How high is a Chinaman.

          Depends if he's played the piano in General Kash Mai Chek's secret NAAFI or not...

          1. Alan Ferris

            Re: Confused units

            So Low's his brother

        2. I am the liquor

          Re: How high is a Chinaman

          5,068m if he's on the Xining-Golmud-Lhasa railway, we learned that earlier.

        3. magickmark
          Trollface

          How high is a Chinaman?

          I though the answer would be Two Thirty?

          Oh wait a parsec that's when he goes to the dentist!

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Confused units

      Trying to figure out what's lighter than 0.877 femtometres made my head go like the title image.

      With this and the mix-and-match of mass and force in the Watt balance article, there is some crazy physics going on at El Reg this afternoon. I'll have what they're having.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Confused units

        there is some crazy physics going on at El Reg this afternoon. I'll have what they're having.

        Could your liver handle it? After all, operating at journalist-levels of blood alcohol requires a number of years in training.

  9. maccy

    Is there a units problem here?

    "It was believed that the proton was about 0.877 femtometres, less than a trillionth of a millimetre. But now scientists have found the subatomic particle is 30 billionths of a per cent lighter than that estimate."

    I thought I was 1.8m tall but it turns out I'm much heavier.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is there a units problem here?

      Your not the only one. They all tell me at work they are on a diet to lose weight. I told them, "I don't care how much you weigh, neither do you!" I think it's the length of their belt they are more worried about!

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Is there a units problem here?

        Ooh! Let's all have a mass debate.

  10. aeonturnip

    Dark energy?

    Katie Hopkins is extremely dense, and only interacts repulsively...

    1. staggers

      Re: Dark energy?

      @ aeonturnip

      If I could give you a decaupdate I would.

  11. Chris G Silver badge

    Partic/le/ular

    Since it is a particular issue, perhaps you could call it a Hopron an infinitessimally small particle of no consequence or mass, not so much dark matter as doesn't matter.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Mailons are comprised of a mixture of...

      Up, down, bottom, top, strange, charm, in, out, bizarre, hilarious, foreign, English, odious and vile.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Partic/le/ular

      perhaps you could call it a Hopron

      I expect it should be possible to isolate this particle by placing her in a particle collider and switching the beams on.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: placing her in a particle collider and switching the beams on.

        Nooooo!!!!! Too much chance of her gaining superpowers and becoming omnipotent. And blue.

  12. staggers

    Well, having never heard of her, I had to resort to Google.

    Sounds like a lovely person. Not.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      I would have advised you to treasure that ignorance, but sadly I'm too late...

      1. The Jon

        I have had the tremendous misfortune to spend two evenings in the company of Ms Hopkins at two separate house parties. Odious woman even then, before she became the tabloid caricature pantomime villain.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
          Pint

          I have had the tremendous misfortune to spend two evenings in the company of Ms Hopkins

          Oh dear, you might be in need of a couple of these…

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Well, having never heard of her, I had to resort to Google."

      Think of it like this - if Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins were ever to collide at a velocity close to the speed of light1 you would probably get a new universe full of dark matter.

      1Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

      1. staggers

        Re: "Well, having never heard of her, I had to resort to Google."

        And presumably that dark matter would be a bit smelly?

      2. staggers

        Re: "Well, having never heard of her, I had to resort to Google."

        So, maybe we could get Mr Clarkson to render the world another service!

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    According to the article the head line in New Scientist is "Protons are lighter than thought". El Reg's headline is the opposite: "One thought equivalent to less than a single proton in mass". What was the headline writer thinking of?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What was the headline writer thinking of?

      Generating clickbait without infringing copyright, perhaps?

  14. My Alter Ego

    El-reg unit for Anti-matter

    I don't think "The Hopkins" should be a fraction of a thought. It should be used a unit of ant-matter as her screed is liable to suck intelligent thoughts from your brain.

    Also, I don't think she's ever written a positive thing in her life...

  15. handleoclast
    Facepalm

    Proposal for El Reg CMS Enhancement

    Perhaps Vulture Central's IT specialists could implement El Reg goggles (similar to gmail goggles) which prevent drunken article writing.

    It might reduce the number of articles where masses are specified in units of length and inequalities get reversed. It might even result in a coherent article (if you manage to implement laser goggles).

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Proposal for El Reg CMS Enhancement

      The article was a bit brain melting, but hey, we get to dump on Hopkins, so that's okay...

  16. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Dark Matter

    I had always considered articles by Katie Hopkins to be dark matter — believed to have substance but not yet proved, let alone discovered.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    KATIE Hopkins Is FRIEND KF AMONERIC

    Don't TAKE HE mocky AST YOU BRATS would say OUT OC KATIE HOPKINS SHES A frond Of TRUMO SO IS A fiend of the AMORICAN PEEPLE. SHE JUST says WHA WIL. BE AMERICAN FOREIGH POLICY NEXT week. SHE IS. A genius LIKE TRUMPP and LIKE the GINGER one FROM THE SPICE GURLS - /sporty SPICE. TEASER may should APPOING hopClit To be Your DIPLOMAT TO THE USA! With Marlinia tramp On top. Politically I MEAN NOT LIKE TOO NAKID WOMANS. I AM not A pivot. So Katie's thoughts are Like a BAG. OF AGAR. SUHAR. SUGAR.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: KATIE Hopkins Is FRIEND KF AMONERIC

      Gulp! Erm...

      Nurse! He's out of bed again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: KATIE Hopkins Is FRIEND KF AMONERIC

      How has that got 3 downvotes. It's genius.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: genius

        It's the first time this topic that someone mentioned sugar, like the kind my brain runs on (given enough oxygen). I was trying to guess how many calories a thought would consume, and then divide by c2, to get the mass of a thoughtsworth. Or something.

    3. heyrick Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: KATIE Hopkins Is FRIEND KF AMONERIC

      Amanfrommars you aren't.

    4. Tom 38 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: KATIE Hopkins Is FRIEND KF AMONERIC

      So Katie's thoughts are Like a BAG. OF AGAR.

      Transparent, barely edible, attracts bacteria? I'd agree, but agar has culture.

  18. magickmark
    Thumb Up

    Hat-tip to Douglas from Cambridge for spotting this article

    As I read down and saw this "Hat-tip to Douglas from Cambridge for spotting this article" I immediately thought of the late great Douglas Adams.

    Adams was born in Cambridge in March 1952 and he is quoted as saying that DNA (his middle name was Noël) was in the city nine months before Francis Crick and James Watson discovered its double-helix structure.

    I'd like to think that this story would make him smile, firstly for the terrible grammar of ""Protons are lighter than thought" headline and secondly at the idea that a thought has some kind of mass.

  19. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    Apparently I'm at an advantage.

    Not knowing who or what KH is.

    Sadly, the type is not unique or restricted to the UK. We've some collection of idiots over here who have spent far too much time in the right wing echo chamber and are *firmly* convinced that all Syrian Refugees (substitute any non-white skinned, non christian faithed body) that Canada has accepted will be simultaneously trying to convert Canada to Sharia law and wearing explosive belts to all our major public events. And that the only solution is to allow Canadians unlimited access to assault rifles and large clip handguns.

    The awkward bit in the article is 'meters' vs some measure of mass. I'm assuming that there is some calculation somewhere that converts diameter/length of a proton to some value of mass and that this is universal, said assumption solely to let the NS writer off the hook. It might be advantageous to hunt that formula up.

    As for thoughts having weight, having periodic depression will educate one on that front. They weigh a fucking ton. (Short ton, sorry, leftpondian). If protons were *heavier* than that I think we'd all be just a wee bit shorter, what with mass having an influence on gravitational pull.

    (actually had a great long weekend, just it is first day back at the mess and I'm looking at 125 lines of python that were committed on Thursday night and wondering what idiot thought this would have *any* value....)

    1. handleoclast

      Re: Apparently I'm at an advantage.

      I'm looking at 125 lines of python that were committed on Thursday night and wondering what idiot thought this would have *any* value

      I know that feeling well. Unlike you, it is then followed by the realization that I was that idiot.

    2. DanceMan

      Re: Not knowing who or what KH is

      I had to google her too. Appears to be a Brit version of Anne Coulter

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Not knowing who or what KH is

        I think of her as a white version of Abu Qatada ,or "Abu Hopkins" for short. Try it, it fits.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Not knowing who or what KH is

          Umma Hopkins. Unless there is part of her back story I've missed...

  20. Dr. G. Freeman

    Breaking out the abacus

    Right,

    thought= neurons firing (allegedly- not a neuroscientist, just a bored Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Boffin)

    Neurons fire electrical pulses, which are electrons, one at a time down along the axon. (according to google "how does a neuron work")

    radius of electron= 2.818 x10e-15m

    but we want weight/mass which is 9.1 x10e-31 kg

    So, one thought, which is one pulse is 9.1x 10e-31kg.

    Which, if we think Katie Hopkins is thoughtless means that one of her columns is less than that- taking a 95% as a maximum statistical less than , her columns are at a maximum 8.64x10e-31 kg.

    which is, not very much.

    1. Meph
      Thumb Up

      Re: Breaking out the abacus

      "which is, not very much."

      To quote the old poem: "three fifths of five eighths"?

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Breaking out the abacus

      which are electrons, one at a time down along the axon. (according to google "how does a neuron work")

      Which isn't right. A charge moves, but it's not electrons. And even if it's a piece of copper wire, the electron barely moves. They shuffle along at a really, really slow pace.

  21. SlyWombat

    Thoughts at rest or in motion?

    Is the weight of a thought measured at rest? As a printed thought?

  22. alain williams Silver badge

    Does is depend on who's thought ?

    Does an Einstein thought weigh the same as a Paris Hilton thought ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does is depend on who's thought ?

      "Does an Einstein thought weigh the same as a Paris Hilton thought ?"

      Of course. In exactly the same way that a kilogram of caviar weighs exactly the same as a kilogram of lard.

  23. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    For me? 506 more protons needed

    Here is my work, bear in mind I'm frequently wrong but NEVER in doubt:

    Rest mass of proton: 1.672621898E-027 kilogram

    Speed of light: 299792458 m/sec

    Therefore the energy equivalent of one proton is:

    E = mc^2 = 1.50327759289611E-10 Joule

    I don't know Katie so we will use one of my thoughts. I have on average 2/day.

    Apropos of nothing the average time for a mammal to defecate is 12 sec.

    Basic energy consumption of an adult male is about 8700 kJ; over 24 hours this averages to a power level of just over 100W. The brain consumes about 19% of this, so the brain is 19W.

    Given 12sec/thought, then the energy value of a thought is 12sec * 19W = 228Joule

    How many proton rest masses is this? 228Joule / 1.50327759289611E-10 Joule / proton ~ 14820948642677 protons.

    An error of 30 billionths of a percent is 3.333E-10

    3.333E-10 * 14820948642677 ~ 506.

    So because of this error I need another 506 protons per thought. Or less fiber.

    1. DanceMan

      Re: bear in mind I'm frequently wrong but NEVER in doubt

      Bob, I didn't know you read el Reg.

  24. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    So, thoughts have mass then?

    I may have mis-understood the premise of the article (but hey, I think we all did)

    So, if thoughts have mass, then every time an original thought is had (or even an unoriginal thought) a very, very ickle tiny amount of matter is tied up in that thought. Now, as matter can be neither created nor destroyed, that means that over time a growing percentage of the mass of the Universe will be converted into thoughts. Eventually the universe will comprise one single 'body' of interlocking, coruscating thought, and humanity will have reached its ultimate evolutionary stage.

    Hmm, I feel the urge to found a new religion coming on....

    1. Vic

      Re: So, thoughts have mass then?

      Hmm, I feel the urge to found a new religion coming on....

      Why bother? Fundaligionism covers pretty much all bases...

      Hallelujahgobble!

      Vic.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I feel so protonless...

  26. Milton

    What about decay?

    A Guardian article about Ligo possibly being used to uncover evidence for string theory's extra dimensions had me wondering, this morning, about testability, and I realised that we *still* haven't observed proton decay - which would be really big deal in confirming some facts about a universe which, I am constrained to point out, has, despite immense scientific effort, not been getting any *less* weird since Einstein muttered about "spooky action at a distance". Personally I still have to deploy the mental "long spoon" when supping with dark matter ...

    But, to topic, do thoughts have mass? Insofar as they embody electric charge, then they must do, just as a capacitor must become infinitesimally massier when charged. Does this mean that thinking new thoughts increases one's brain mass? Or, since our mass can, in any given reference frame, change only via our receiving or transmitting something, do mass-increasing thoughts work only when stimulated upon receipt of information from outside ourselves? Does a certain kind of thinking - e.g. complex analysis, creativity, learning - have more mass than other, less challenging 'thought' processes, like watching 'Love Island' or listening to politicians tell lies?

    Is it possible that I am getting heavier when reading an electronics textbook, because I am processing and (I hope) storing complex new information? Whereas perhaps the audience at a Donald Trump speech gradually gets lighter, as the listeners know less and less?

    "Wow, Doc, this is heavy ..."

  27. Ben Liddicott

    Thoughts weigh millions of times more than protons.

    The brain uses about 0.15 calories per minute. By relativistic mass-energy equivalence, the mass of 0.15 calories is 6.98e-15 grams. The mass of a proton is 1.67e-24 grams.

    That means the brain uses approximately 4 billion protons worth of energy every minute. If a thinking brain uses 10% more energy, and you have ten thoughts per minute, a thought weighs in at 40 million protons.

    So yes, protons are quite a bit lighter than thought, I would say.

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