How Nuclear Decay Disproves Einstein’s Claim That Matter Can Be Changed into Energy
Published: September 12, 2010

In 1905, the German-born American physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) claimed that matter can be changed into energy. All matter is made up of atoms. Matter is anything that takes up (or occupies) space, has mass, and reacts to gravity; the properties of matter are determined by their atoms. Atoms are the smallest particles of matter that can exist; the ultimate and smallest division of matter. Since it is impossible for atoms to come into existence out of nothing or pass away into nothing, they are eternal and indestructible.

They are absolutely solid particles that cannot undergo change and have withstood eternal battering. They give permanence to the existence of matter and the universe. Being absolutely solid, they have no internal structure and thus cannot be split. Einstein said that atoms could be split to release enormous amounts of energy. I have written many other essays that disproved this claim. I believe that an understanding of nuclear decay will help you see that Einstein confused thoms with atoms.

Nuclear decay is a process in which a thomic nucleus become less massive by splitting apart or giving off particles as radiation, in the form of heat and light. It’s important to understand that particles are very small pieces of matter. The particles given off as radiation are tiny atoms and molecules. Energy is the activity of atoms and molecules. It’s not something that matter, which is made up of eternal and indestructible atoms, can be changed into.

Nothing can exist without atoms, except the void. As Atomism explains, “Atoms are the primary elements of things from which nature forms, increases, and sustains all things, and into which she again resolves them when they perish (disintegrate or decay)”1 It further explains that: “Apart from matter and void, no third constituent with a separate existence can be allowed to remain in the aggregate of things, such as might at any time be perceived by our senses or apprehended by the exercise of reason.”2 Clearly, Einstein’s claim that matter can be changed into energy, which he regarded as not being matter, is false. As the American theoretical physicist and Nobel prize winner Richard P. Feynman (1918-88) explained, “It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge of what energy is.”3 I will reiterate: In Atomism, it’s the activity of atoms and molecules. In other words, it’s the activity of matter.

Hypothetically speaking, if matter could be changed into energy, which is not matter, matter would cease to exist. In what way could the so-called energy, which has no mass or volume, exist? I argue that matter, being made up of eternal and indestructible atoms, cannot be changed into non-matter by any force. It can only be made to change form or be broken up into its constituent atoms. Of course, its energy (or activity) can be changed too, but never separated from it.

  1. Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, Translated, with Introduction and Notes, by Martin Ferguson Smith (Indianapolis/ Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.), p. 4.
  2. Ibid., p. 14.
  3. Richard P. Feynman, Six Easy Pieces (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus, 1995), p. 71.