Have you ever thought about the power of a paper clip? If you could convert the
mass of a paper clip entirely to energy, how big a punch would it pack?
Einstein's most famous equation, E = mc^{2}, indicates the calculation is
straightforward: the energy released would be equivalent to the mass times the
speed of light squared. Yet the answer is far from intuitive because, for one
thing, the speed of light is immense—670 million mph—making the
speed of light squared almost inconceivable. In this quiz, discover the answer
and explore other examples of what scientists call massenergy
equivalence.—Susan K. Lewis
1. The mass of a small paper clip (.03 ounces) has the energy of:
 burning 20 gallons of gasoline
 one ton of TNT
 an atomic bomb
2. In 1939, physicist Lise Meitner realized that splitting a single atom
of uranium would effectively convert the mass of onefifth of a proton into 200
million electron volts of energy. This is enough energy to:
 kill an amoeba
 boil 43 gallons of roomtemperature water
 launch the Space Shuttle
3. A vast amount of solar energy warms our planet and supports life. If all
that energy were converted to mass, how much mass would strike Earth in a single
second?
 12 ounces
 four pounds
 32 pounds
4. The mass of 100 pennies has just enough energy to:
 melt a pound of lead
 power New York State for about two days
 power our entire world for a month
5. If converted entirely to energy, a lump of coal weighing 2.2 pounds could
power a 100watt light bulb for how long?
 67 hours
 29 years
 29 million years
6. The mass of a house has the energy to:
 drive a large SUV around the world
 melt half the ice in Antarctica
 possibly split Earth in half
7. Just as mass can become energy, energy can become mass. When the Space
Shuttle travels at its top speed, the energy of motion adds to its mass. The
amount of gain is roughly comparable to:
 a flea
 a stick of butter
 a cantaloupe
Answers
