Earth's atmosphere is a layer of gases that surround it, permitting life and protecting life by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface by retaining the heat and mitigating the temperature difference between day and night.

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70
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12answers
9k views

Why is filling a balloon from your mouth much harder initially?

Why is it that when you first fill up a balloon, it's hard to get air through, but after inflating it a bit, it becomes much easier to further inflate the balloon?
59
votes
2answers
3k views

Why do chimneys have these spiral “wings”?

While walking around I noticed something very peculiar. Many chimneys had spiral "wings", while others didn't. I came up with two possibilities: The wind circles around the chimney upwards which ...
32
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9answers
7k views

Why can't we see gases?

I am not sure what causes gas molecules to be invisible.This question may look silly but I really want to know the story behind it.
31
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6answers
2k views

How much air needs to be displaced to generate an audible sound?

I'm reading a book where in one scene a wizard/alchemist teleports a scroll after reading. He folded the parchment carefully and muttered a single cantrip. The note vanished with a small plop of ...
29
votes
7answers
4k views

Is it possible to “cook” pasta at room temperature with low enough pressure?

It is known fact, that boiling point of water decreases by decreasing of pressure. So there is a pressure at which water boils at room temperature. Would it be possible to cook e.g. pasta at room ...
29
votes
6answers
8k views

Why is jumping into water from high altitude fatal?

If I jump from an airplane straight positioned upright into the ocean, why is it the same as jumping straight on the ground? Water is a liquid as opposed to the ground, so I would expect that by ...
25
votes
6answers
8k views

Why does a tire need to be filled with air?

The Mini 4WD's tires aren't full of air, and it can run. Also, the tank doesn't have tires with air. So, the question is: why do real cars on the road need to be filled with air? What is the idea ...
23
votes
5answers
5k views

Why do heavier objects fall faster in air?

We all know that in an idealised world all objects accelerate at the same rate when dropped regardless of their mass. We also know that in reality (or more accurately, in air) a lead feather falls ...
23
votes
3answers
6k views

If aerographite is lighter than air, why doesn't it float?

Air is 6 times denser than aerographite but looking at pictures or videos presenting the material, I see it resting on tables rather than raising to the ceiling. Also, since the material is made of ...
23
votes
4answers
2k views

Why can you “suck in” cooked spaghetti?

We all know that there is no "sucking", only pushing. So how are cooked spaghetti pushed into your mouth? The air pressure applies orthogonal on the spaghetti surface. Where does the component ...
21
votes
8answers
6k views

Is it possible to create a parachute large enough to stop all velocity?

This idea came to me while playing Kerbal Space Program. I noticed that the larger my parachute was, the slower my rocket would fall back down to Kerbin. I would like to know if it is possible to ...
21
votes
4answers
3k views

Why is the pressure inside a soap bubble higher than outside?

Apparently, the air inside a soap bubble is under higher pressure than the surrounding air. This is for instance apparent in the sound bubbles make when they burst. Why is the pressure inside the ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does blowing on a candle put it out but sucking doesn't?

Alternatively, why does the force created by blowing out air feel so much stronger than the force created by sucking in air? Ok, so forget the human factor involved in blowing out candles. Consider a ...
18
votes
4answers
15k views

Why does the air we blow/exhale out from our mouths change from hot to cold depending on the size of the opening we make with our mouth?

Why does the air we blow/exhale out from our mouths change from hot to cold depending on the size of the opening we make with our mouth? It's not just a subtle difference, but significant in my ...
15
votes
5answers
4k views

Why isn't jumping from a high altitude fatal?

After seeing this answer claiming that displacing matter "In a very short time", "no matter whether the matter is solid, liquid, or gas" (even though he concludes that falling from a high altitude is ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Why do bubbles make a sound?

I have an understanding of how bubbles work. They encapsulate air (or other fluids) in a membrane caused by surface tension. When they pop, there is often a sound. Sound is a type of energy, kinetic ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Why is exhaling more forceful than inhaling?

By blowing at pencil, a piece of paper, or another object up to fifty centimeters away, I can cause it to move away from me significantly. But I can't move an object toward myself by inhaling sharply ...
12
votes
7answers
4k views

Does it take significantly more fuel to fly a heavier airplane?

I was reading in the papers how some-airline-or-the-other increased their prices for extra luggage, citing increased fuel costs. Now I'm a bit skeptical. Using the (wrong) Bernoulli-effect ...
12
votes
4answers
8k views

On a hot day, when it's cooler outside than in; is it better to put a fan in an open window pointing inwards or outwards?

If it's really hot inside, but cooler outside; what is the best way to place a single fan to try and cool a room down? I always assumed it would be better pointing inwards (and this thread suggests ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

Is there an upper frequency limit to ultrasound?

Wikipedia has this diagram of the acoustic frequency spectrum: Is there an upper limit to the frequencies you can transmit through the air? Are they absorbed more and more at higher frequencies, ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

Why is air invisible?

I think that something is invisible if it's isolated particles are smaller than the wavelength of visible light. Is this correct? Why is air invisible? What about other gases and fumes which are ...
11
votes
2answers
743 views

What is the terminal velocity for a mobile phone

You may have seen the story of the iPhone which was dropped from perhaps 13,500 feet by a skydiver - it survived. This made me wonder how to work out the terminal velocity for something like that. ...
10
votes
4answers
3k views

Why does my door shut faster when the window is open?

I've noticed that if I shut my door when the window is open in a room, the door will tend to shut faster. If I shut the door when the window is closed with a normal force it will not fully close as if ...
9
votes
5answers
7k views

If I take a bottle of air into space, and open it, where does it go?

It seems to me that space doesn't have any/much air, and if my bottle is full of air, when I open it, where does the air go?
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it possible to make laser beams visible midair without smoke?

My question is: Is it possible to make laser beams viable midair without smoke? I thought it would be a great idea to have a (second) smartphone or pc screen without having a solid screen. The reason ...
9
votes
2answers
576 views

When blowing air through a tube, why does it act differently if I press the tube against my mouth, or hold it an inch away?

So I have a tube of wrapping paper. It's at least a couple of feet long and maybe two inches wide. If I press one end of the tube firmly against my mouth and blow, I barely feel warm air come out ...
8
votes
1answer
280 views

A flying fly inside a sealed box on a scale

suppose there is a scale able to measure weight with an uncertainty of $10^{-9}kg$ . On the scale, an airtight plastic chamber is placed. Initially, a fly of mass $10^{-5}kg$ is sitting at the bottom ...
7
votes
4answers
666 views

Why does an airplane have more lift near the ground?

I've noticed that an airplane appears to have more lift when it's almost touching the ground then it has 100 feet or more in the air. What causes this to occur?
7
votes
3answers
124 views

Reason for strange “canyons” of dust on the cooling platform

I took apart my cooling platform Something like this : And I found something like this inside : I wonder why around the hollows are the "canyon like" structures. PS: I also drop this platform ...
7
votes
3answers
346 views

Does fire create air resistance?

Does fire create air resistance/drag? So, for example, would it be harder to swing a flaming sword than a normal one?
7
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1answer
1k views

How did Enrico Fermi calculate the classical Fermi Problem?

From Wikipedia: Fermi was known for his ability to make good approximate calculations with little or no actual data, hence the name. One example is his estimate of the strength of the atomic bomb ...
6
votes
3answers
242 views

Is it faster underwater to go down without air or up with air?

So I had a very interesting conversation between me and my friends about this topic, but we could not find the answer. The Situation Lets say you are in a pool and you want to touch the bottom and ...
6
votes
3answers
756 views

The physics behind Balloons lifting objects?

Apologies for the super basic question, but we all have to start somewhere right? Can somebody please explain exactly how you would calculate the number of helium balloons it would take to lift an ...
6
votes
2answers
114 views

Flying eggshells

This question was asked on Judaism.StackExchange a few days ago, but I think it has a better chance of being answered here. Disregarding the grammatical discussion in the comments on that ...
6
votes
2answers
112 views

Why can I move through air?

Forgive me if this a simple question with an obvious answer I can't see. I was thinking about pressure and air pressure and how we have thousands of pounds of air pressing down on us. What I'm ...
6
votes
1answer
728 views

Why is it hard to breathe when cycling against the wind?

Sometimes when I bicycle against hard wind, I find it difficult to breathe. Others I have discussed it with have also noticed this effect. A possible related phenomenon that I heard from an ...
6
votes
1answer
842 views

How to calculate air velocity in a fan?

How to calculate air velocity in a fan and what data should I know ? So if I have a fan motor, fan blade and a battery, what data should I get from these items ? I think I will need to know the ...
5
votes
3answers
13k views

Can pockets of air exist underwater?

If yes, why don't they fill up with water, and can you breathe the air there? Like, it's not exactly atmosphere there, but an underwater cave with higher ceiling. P.S. Possible that it has a ...
5
votes
3answers
865 views

Why does air remain a mixture?

As we all know, air consists of many gases including oxygen and carbon dioxide. I found that carbon dioxide is heavier than O2. Does the volume difference neglect the mass difference? Is it same for ...
5
votes
3answers
6k views

Direction of rotation of a celing fan

From Constellation Energy Quick energy efficiency tip: To stay cool and manage your energy at the same time, use ceiling fans to create a “wind chill” in rooms you are using. The wind chill ...
5
votes
6answers
2k views

Is it possible for wind to break the sound barrier?

I understand that in nature wind would never get high enough, but I am just curious as to whether physics would allow this to occur or not.
5
votes
3answers
349 views

Will an air-filled tire normally gravitate toward being nitrogen-filled just by refilling with air?

A big argument by the nitrogen-in-the-tire crowd is that: Nitrogen atoms are bigger and thus less likely to escape the tire, bringing stability to your tire pressure. If Earth's atmosphere is ...
5
votes
2answers
337 views

How can you calculate air resistances at different speeds?

I've read that at 50mph air resistance to an average car is the equivalent of driving through water and at 80mph it's the equivalent of driving through oil. I can't find any references online to ...
5
votes
3answers
494 views

A book sits on a table. What is the net force of air pressure?

An elementary problem asks, A book is at rest on a table top. In what direction is the net force of air pressure on the book? Is this a meaningful question, and if so, what's the answer? If ...
5
votes
1answer
295 views

Why do wind power plants have just 3 blades? [duplicate]

Why do wind power plants have just 3 blades? It seems that adding more blades would increase the area that interacts with the wind and gather more energy. (Image from Wikipedia.)
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Why don't different air masses mix immediately?

In meteorology, the atmosphere is considered to be divided into air masses, regions of relatively uniform temperature and humidity with fronts on their borders. But why doesn't the air from different ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Including air resistance, what is the escape velocity from Earth?

Including air resistance, what is the escape velocity from the surface of the earth for a free-flying trajectile?
5
votes
1answer
771 views

What is the roaring in a roaring fire?

I was just starting a barbecue fire by blowing on the smouldering coals when I realised I had no idea what the sound was actually caused by. I can make the sound by blowing at almost any flame I can ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Paper plane between two fans - is this possible?

The setup: two fans facing each other, distance around 1m. Both are turned on. In between them, place a simple paper plane and according to this video, it will fly. ...
4
votes
1answer
575 views

Why can I see my breath after I pop my ears?

I have this weird but reproducible thing that I can see my breath for less than a second even in hot/humid weather. The key to do that is to pop my ears - I have to do that often, it's like I'm on a ...