Protons Energy – What happens to the energy when 2 protons collide head-on and 100s of particles fly out in all directions?

If you are talking about particle accelerators, a lot happens to the energy. Since the protons have so much kinetic energy when they collide, they don’t simply stay as protons. They turn into 100’s of particles, also moving quickly. Since E = mc^2, we don’t need to conserve just mass or just energy. In fact, if we total the mass times c^2 and the energy of all these particles, we would get the original two protons’ energy.

The resulting shower of particles then goes and hits or bounces off other things, which equipment in the particle accelerator is designed to detect, since it heats the equipment up ever so slightly. The rest just fly off until they decay into something stable.

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Monday, March 15th, 2010 Questions