University of Arizona physicist Andrei Lebed has stirred the physics community with an intriguing idea yet to be tested experimentally: The world's most iconic equation, Albert Einstein's E=mc2, may be correct or not depending on where you are in space.

With the first explosions of atomic bombs, the world became witness to one of the most important and consequential principles in physics: Energy and mass, fundamentally speaking, are the same thing and can, in fact, be converted into each other.

This was first demonstrated by Albert Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity and famously expressed in his iconic equation, E=mc2, where E stands for energy, m for mass and c for the speed of light (squared).

Although physicists have since validated Einstein's equation in countless experiments and calculations, and many technologies including mobile phones and GPS navigation depend on it, University of Arizona physics professor Andrei Lebed has stirred the physics community by suggesting that E=mc2 may not hold up in certain circumstances.

The key to Lebed's argument lies in the very concept of mass itself. According to accepted paradigm, there is no difference between the mass of a moving object that can be defined in terms of its inertia, and the mass bestowed on that object by a gravitational field. In simple terms, the former, also called inertial mass, is what causes a car's fender to bend upon impact of another vehicle, while the latter, called gravitational mass, is commonly referred to as "weight."

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