It has frequently been stated, by myself amongst others, that it is necessary to assume in the inside of stars a temperature of the order of mc2/k in order to explain the generation of energy by the annihilation of matter, m being the mass destroyed in each process, c the velocity of light, and k Boltzmann's constant. This letter is written in order to make clear that this assumption is not necessary. It is perfectly true that the equilibrium constant of a process, subject to the laws of thermodynamics, is of the order, ϵ the energy of the process in this case, of course, being equal to mc2. The equilibrium constant does not, however, determine the generation of energy. What one is concerned with in the case of a star is the rate at which energy is produced; in other words, if one presupposes the simplest process of annihilation, the rate at which protons and electrons disappear in the form of radiation. This is analogous to the rate of chemical reaction, not to the equilibrium constant of a reversible reaction.
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Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (1958)