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That's why if the entire mass of the gallon of gas in your tank was converted into energy via a nuclear reaction, you would be able to travel so far!

It takes a large amount of energy to spit a nucleus into smaller pieces because there is a very strong force holding the nucleus together.

The mass of a proton measured out to 6 significant figures is 1.00728 amu. Usually, it is reported as 1 amu but measured out to 6 significant figures, we have 1.00866 amu. What if we add up the masses of each of the four particles? That is 0.03038 amu higher than the mass we started out with! Mass defect is basically the difference between the mass of a nucleus and its pieces.

And by 'pieces,' I mean specifically its nucleons, or its protons and neutrons. To answer this, we go back to the equation mentioned earlier: E = mc.

If we know how much mass is lost, we can use Einstein's equation, E = mc.

This relationship shows that even a small change in mass results in a large change in energy.

So, whenever we get energy from a nuclear reaction (say, in a power plant), it is because nuclei are losing mass by breaking up into smaller pieces.

Sometimes these smaller pieces are nucleons (protons and neutrons), and sometimes they are just smaller, lighter atoms.

In either situation, very minute amounts of mass are destroyed and converted into huge amounts of energy.

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