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The theory of special relativity and E = m c^2

I need to understand some basic things about relativity and the equation E=mc^2. So I would like a clear discussion of Einstein's relation E=mc^2 for the rest energy of a particle. I want an argument supporting the interpretation of mc^2 as the particle's energy. Please describe some consequences of this identification. Also why should anyone believe E=mc^2?

Solution Summary

A detailed explanation of E = m c^2 is given.