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47
votes
7answers
5k views

Why is the Earth so fat?

I made a naive calculation of the height of Earth's equatorial bulge and found that it should be about 10km. The true height is about 20km. My question is: why is there this discrepancy? The ...
25
votes
4answers
2k views

Prove that negative absolute temperatures are actually hotter than positive absolute temperatures

Could someone provide me with a mathematical proof of why, a system with an absolute negative Kelvin temperature (such that of a spin system) is hotter than any system with a positive temperature (in ...
1
vote
2answers
434 views

Is thermodynamic equilibrium static or dynamic?

Suppose, two parts of a system $A$ & $B$. They were at varying temperatures and hadn't achieved mechanical equilibrium. After the relaxation time, $A$ & $B$ were at thermal and mechanical ...
17
votes
4answers
7k views

Why does the nature always prefer low energy and maximum entropy?

Why does the nature always prefer low energy and maximum entropy? I've just learned electrostatics and I still have no idea why like charges repel each other. ...
11
votes
1answer
885 views

Why is (von Neumann) entropy maximized for an ensemble in thermal equilibrium?

Consider a quantum system in thermal equilibrium with a heat bath. In determining the density operator of the system, the usual procedure is to maximize the von Neumann entropy subject to the ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Spikes on ferrofluid?

What exactly are the spikes, or peaks and valleys, caused by in pictures such as these Wikipedia states that "From the point of view of magnetic energy, peaks and valleys are energetically ...
4
votes
1answer
309 views

Is this formula for the energy of a configuration of 3 fluids physically reasonable?

I have studied for a couple of months now a mathematical model of the energy of a configuration of immiscible fluids situated in a fixed container such that the fluids fill the container. In other ...
13
votes
4answers
253 views

How quickly should a fluid come to hydrostatic equilibrium?

Let's say I'm holding a one-liter water bottle, full of water, which I then drop. Before dropping the water bottle, the equilibrium is for there to be a pressure gradient in the water canceling the ...
3
votes
3answers
19k views

When a ball is tossed straight up, does it experience momentary equilibrium at top of its path?

This question has been asked many times all over the Internet and answers can be found on places such as yahoo and ask.com, but I'm not satisfied with those answers and I don't trust the validity of ...
5
votes
1answer
245 views

Fluids in thermodynamic equlibrium

I am reading about the Euler equations of fluid dynamics from Leveque's Numerical Methods for Conservation Laws (Amazon link). After introducing the mass, momentum and energy equations, some ...
3
votes
2answers
853 views

Metal sphere and charged ring

I think this is an interesting question, to which I don't really know the answer to. (Also, not a homework question.) Say you have an uncharged metal sphere constrained to move in the z-axis. There ...
2
votes
1answer
800 views

Classify equilibrium points and find bifurcation points of a non-linear dynamic system

Context: The question refers to computational physics of non linear systems with Mathematica. Excercise: Given the system $\{f_1: \dot{x} = a x + y + x^3, f_2: \dot{y} = x - y \}$: Find the ...
3
votes
1answer
277 views

What's the point with equilibrium in Thermodynamics?

All the Thermodynamics books I saw until now state that in Thermodynamics we are mainly concearned with equilibrium states (I know there's "non-equilibrium Thermodynamics", but I'm interested on the ...
1
vote
0answers
79 views

Why is it valid to assume that the liquid-vapour interface is always saturated during evaporation?

For steady state evaporation, I read from two textbooks which simply states that the partial pressure of vapour of interest (say water) at the liquid-vapour interface is equal to the saturation ...
0
votes
1answer
134 views

Why is it effectively impossible to balance this rectangle block on a triangle block? (See photo)

I've always wondered why it's basically impossible to balance a rectangle block on top of a triangle one like this. This is my nine-year-old giving it a try. I have never in my life gotten it to ...
7
votes
2answers
950 views

Do airlocks in space decompress violently as they do in movies?

The standard scene follows: The good guys have finally captured the enemies and have them in an airlock chamber on a spaceship. A button is pressed and out they go, violently propelled by the blast of ...
4
votes
6answers
2k views

Why a system should be at its lowest energy state for its stability?

Every possible reaction in chemistry is to attain stability. In physics, the alignment of an electric dipole in an external electric field and in all other physical systems (at least those I study in ...
3
votes
1answer
499 views

Lagrangian formulation of the problem: small oscillations around an equilibrium

I'm having trouble understanding how some conclusions are made in my book. I'm studying from a coursebook based on Goldstein's "Classical Mechanics", here's what's written in my book, with my problems ...
1
vote
0answers
102 views

Three-log problem [closed]

Three uniform round rigid cylindrical logs of the same size and weight are placed on a horizontal plane. The two at the bottom are touching each other, the third one is placed on the top as shown in ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Mechanics question - ladder leaning against a wall

I am struggling with part a) of this question: Here is the solution: In part a) they prove that $F \leq \mu R$ is false for this system. So as $F$ is neither less than nor equal to $\mu R$ it ...
1
vote
1answer
6k views

Kirchhoff law of thermal radiation

Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation states that for thermal equilibrium for a particular surface the monochromatic emissivity $\epsilon_{\lambda}$ equals the monochromatic absorptivity ...
0
votes
1answer
48 views

Orbital but stationary motion

Is there a place between the Moon and Earth where an object can rest freely and revolve with the Moon? What is that called?
0
votes
5answers
641 views

Why am I not accelerated by the reaction force applied by Earth on me? [duplicate]

Newton's third law says that "to every action, there is always an equal but opposite reaction". And Newton's second law of motion says that, $F=ma$ $=>$ $a=\frac{F}{m}$. People says that If I stand ...
0
votes
1answer
331 views

What is dynamic equilibrium actually?

Recently I have asked question sort of like that: Is thermodynamic equilibrium static or dynamic ? But then I wanted to realize what actually a dynamic equilibrium is. I read the wiki article, ...
-1
votes
1answer
134 views

Exercise about equilibrium and virtual work [closed]

Two railway carriages of mass $M_1=2m$ and $M_2=m$ are on a 45° inclined plane. A spring, parallel to the plane, keeps both carriages in balance against the gravitational accceleration. The ...
-2
votes
2answers
569 views

Why are planets in unstable equilibrium in a stable orbit

It is well known that a planet in stable orbit is in unstable equilibrium. If e.g. the moon was just a few m/s slower in velocity, or a few m closer to the earth than it is, the gravity would ...