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4
votes
2answers
78 views

What would it take to cause lightning to jump between the Moon and the Earth?

This question comes from @Floris' speculation at the end of his excellent answer about what it would take to kill everyone on the Earth with electricity. Doing all this in 1/10th of a second ...
29
votes
6answers
5k views

If the Earth is a good conductor of electricity, why don't people get electrocuted every time they touch the Earth?

Since the Earth is a good conductor of electricity, is it safe to assume that any charge that flows down to the Earth must be redistributed into the Earth in and along all directions? Does this also ...
3
votes
1answer
63 views

Force and lions

Alright. So me and some other people right now need an answer to this. If you have 1 trillion lions traveling at 81 kilometers (top speed of a lion) towards the Sun in a pretty dense ball. (As dense a ...
1
vote
2answers
65 views

What should we do If we wanted to increase the angular velocity of a planet? [duplicate]

We could hit it with really fast objects, but could we manipulate the orbit of a large satellite to speed up its rotation? What would be the easiest way?
-1
votes
0answers
304 views

How much force is required to hold an umbrella?

Assuming a small umbrella (e.g. http://www.amazon.com/ShedRain-WindPro-Umbrella-Close-Size/dp/B001DL5WN0). What are the factors that need to be considered? I assume where I hold the umbrella might ...
1
vote
1answer
20 views

Tangent and Normal accelerations position estimation

How can I derive a particle position given it's last known positions (x,y), velocities in it's components (vx, vy), tangential and centripetal (normal) accelerations? (this is the only available data) ...
0
votes
1answer
26 views

Tsunami effects of a nuclear explosion

Sea surface nuclear explosion arouses a tidal wave of water. How does this kind of wave compare to naturally occurring tsunamis? E.g. what would be the potential of a 100KT bomb 100km away the from ...
5
votes
4answers
184 views

What was the amount of energy released in the 9/11 terrorist attacks?

I read somewhere on the internet that the amount of energy released by the terrorist attacks on the twin towers on 9/11 should have been of the order of 100 tons of TNT. This number surprised me, ...
0
votes
2answers
41 views

How quickly does a gas reach a uniform temperature in an enclosure?

I'm just looking for ballpark figures and reasoning. Suppose a gas (air) at STP was introduced into a 10cm diameter sphere of infinite heat capacity and conductivity at one degree above the gas. How ...
36
votes
5answers
5k views

Freefall into snow

In the movie Frozen, the following dialogue takes place: Anna: "It's a hundred-foot drop." Kristoff: "It's two hundred." Anna: "Okay, what if we fall?" Kristoff: "There's 20 feet of ...
-3
votes
0answers
16 views

What is the distribution for this function? [migrated]

Suppose we let X1, X2,...,Xn be an IID random sample of observations on the random variable X. So what my question is: Assuming that X ~ (μ,σ^2), find the distribution of √n(μ̂-μ)/σ. This is a ...
1
vote
2answers
66 views

Would it be possible to make a space elevator only in the atmosphere?

I wonder if with current day technology we could make a "floating platform" which hangs from a satellite by a space elevator. This could allow a "launch process" involving floating a balloon to the ...
2
votes
3answers
89 views

How can Denver offer Hot Air Balloon rides?

So the air density in Denver is 1.0 kg/m^3. And heated air has the density of 0.95 kg/m^3. So adding the weight of the basket and balloon I don't understand how a hot air balloon could get off the ...
3
votes
1answer
89 views

Simple estimation of the critical temperature of water

I'm trying to develop fermi estimation skills and I came up with a question for which I don't even know where to start from. Here goes: Is it possible to estimate the critical temperature (say in ...
7
votes
1answer
628 views

How fast will sublimed dry ice mix with air?

I saw this photo and wondered: Will the CO2 stay mostly in a layer on the floor with the rest of the atmosphere resting on top, or will it quickly diffuse throughout the room? This lab is probably ...
2
votes
1answer
56 views

The fly and the sphere of iron

When I was a child, I read something like the following in a book whose name I have now forgotten (I tried to find the original quote on the web, but although there are some similar passages the ...
2
votes
1answer
46 views

Why do flat sheets of paper twist more than paper cones as they fall?

If I cut a 10cm circle out of a piece of paper and drop it, it will twist as it falls, even if it's rigid. If I then cut out a one-quarter wedge of the circle and tape the remaining three-quarters ...
0
votes
1answer
68 views

How much energy would it require to send Earth to Proxima Centauri?

Assuming 100% efficiency of energy usage, and given the current estimates about the mass of known objects in our solar system, including Earth itself, and assuming no other objects are affected by ...
2
votes
1answer
48 views

How much potential fusion energy is in Earth's ocean?

Assuming the most efficient manner for extraction, and a ready supply of other necessary materials not mentioned herein, and given the current estimates about the volume of Earth's ocean, how much ...
3
votes
1answer
73 views

How powerful would a laser need to be to make a hole in snow?

How strong would a laser beam have to be (and what frequency would be optimal) for it to be able to make a hole in snow? Here I am looking for a laser beam that could make the hole after less than 2 ...
6
votes
3answers
103 views

How big would a solar sail need to be to be detected from the orbit of Pluto?

Suppose we made a solar sail out of a highly reflective material. How big would that solar sail have to be for the Hubble Space Telescope to detect it visually at the average distance of Pluto?
3
votes
1answer
111 views

What is the force required to move a raindrop?

I'm doing some research on how much force is required to move a typical raindrop (assuming that it is falling straight down) off to the side of X distance. This is for a school project on creating our ...
14
votes
6answers
4k views

Throwing an object around the Earth. Is it possible?

Some of you might be familiar with the cartoon called Astérix. In one of the episodes, Obelix (the really strong fat guy in the stylish striped pants) enters a spear throwing competition. He beats the ...
1
vote
1answer
30 views

liquid trapped in wet sponge

If you soak a sponge in water, or some other liquid, and then let it hang then some liquid will flow down due to gravity but not all, some amount will remain trapped in the sponge by the capillary ...
1
vote
1answer
68 views

How size of objects lifted by the wind depends on the speed of the wind?

What are the sizes of the objects that could be picked up and flown by tornados, depending on the tornado's speed? To put it another way, assuming turbulent flow and object density much higher than ...
0
votes
2answers
129 views

A big cannon to match a ballistic missile? [closed]

During the last years of WW2 the Germans used ballistic missiles V-2 (with payload mass ~1,000 kg) to bombard London, from a distance about 300 km away. Suppose the British could respond by building a ...
3
votes
1answer
84 views

Estimate for minimum potential depth required for bound states in 3D attractive potential well

Consider a 3D spherically symmetric potential well, $$H = \frac{p^2}{2m} + V(r)$$ with $V(r) = - V_0$ for $r < a/2$ and $0$ else, for some $V_0 > 0$. Now, it is well known that $V_0$ needs to ...
2
votes
2answers
125 views

Order of magnitude estimation for some intriguing questions

The physics TA showed us a few examples in which one can estimate many things from first principles, sound logic, and scaling arguments. This led usually to understanding of why some numbers have the ...
0
votes
0answers
67 views

Algorithm for calculating lunar crescent visibility

Is there a simple algorithm for predicting lunar crescent visibility. Simple enough to do with a calculator at least. Those offered in Meeus' Astronomical Algorithms are a bit too involving to do by ...
0
votes
1answer
58 views

How to calculate the Impact of a meteor

I am trying to add a dose of realism to a story I'm writing: imagine an invulnerable superman-like being that won't disintegrate at any point, weighing in at 349lbs, travelling at 86,000mph through ...
2
votes
2answers
516 views

Temperature on the surface of the sun calculated with the Stefan-Boltzmann-rule

In a German Wikipedia page, the following calculation for the temperature on the surface of the Sun is made: $\sigma=5.67*10^{-8}\frac{W}{m^2K^4}$ (Stefan-Boltzmann constant) $S = 1367\frac{W}{m^2}$ ...
0
votes
0answers
36 views
3
votes
1answer
24 views

Can physicist estimate is it safe to walk/drive on ice? [closed]

I'm curious about the following: Suppose that I know the the weather forecasts of a given place. How can I compute from that data whether or not it is secure to walk or drive by a car to an island.
3
votes
1answer
63 views

Mammal Population Estimates as a Fermi problem [closed]

Can We estimate the order of magnitude of number of mammals on earth? Can this be treated as Fermi problem or not?
2
votes
1answer
63 views

Is there a Fermi estimations toolbox?

I am a theoretical physics student and am a little ashamed at my inability to estimate any measurable quantity. I would like to develop my skills at Fermi estimations. Although it is hopeless to ...
2
votes
3answers
151 views

Will my car consume more if I plug in my laptop?

I drive a Volvo v40 with a 110hp diesel engine. It usually use 4.6L/100km. If I plug my laptop which is 85W, will this change the fuel need? If so, by how much?
2
votes
0answers
28 views

Quantum Efficiency Estimation

Might there be a way to do a rough estimate of the quantum efficiency of a photo-detector like a CCD or CMOS sensor based only on a picture taken with it? I've read papers and guides (like this one: ...
0
votes
1answer
258 views

How thick (in molecules) would a piece of paper be if it was folded to the moon? [closed]

Apparently you can fold a piece of paper 42 times and reach the moon! 42 is the answer the everything after all! Oh, Douglas Adams, you clever son of a bitch. The reasoning behind this is that as you ...
4
votes
0answers
77 views

Intuitively, why does removing solutes cost $k_B T$ of free energy per molecule?

I can calculate that if you want to, for example, desalinate water, you will have to pay a free energy cost of $k_B T$ for each ion you remove. In other words, removing an ion from a volume of water ...
0
votes
2answers
83 views

How does one estimate the electrical power of a power plant?

I have two related questions that I would like help on: When a power plant creates power like the Hoover Dam, it can provide 2.07 GW of electrical power. My question is what does this mean? I assume ...
1
vote
1answer
50 views

Ultra Deep Field 3D camera speed

I guess most of you saw Ultra Deep Field 3D video. In the end it shows camera moving in 3D perspective through all the galaxies. My question is, how fast is the camera moving in that video? I couldn't ...
0
votes
2answers
193 views

How to estimate a person's mass from a sensor? [closed]

I'm trying to estimate the person's weight from some available sensors and I have an accelerometer, a gyrometer and a magnetometer. The triaxial accelerometer is fixed in a band in the person's ...
1
vote
5answers
3k views

Estimate number of hairs on human head [closed]

A technique of vital importance at all levels in physics is estimation. This is obvious from the first chapter in any introductory physics textbook, but is also related to the working physicist. ...
18
votes
3answers
4k views

Roughly how many atoms thick is the layer of graphite left by a pencil writing on paper?

Actually I can't expand much as the question pretty much explains the query. I would be interested in the method of estimating an answer as well as a potential way to measure it experimentally. ...
1
vote
1answer
193 views

How much lead is there in the universe?

I know there is around 10^80 atoms in the observable universe, but is there any estimate the amount of lead in the universe (within a couple magnitudes of 10)?
0
votes
0answers
78 views

How much energy does it take to simply run forward?

I'm interested in tracking as much data about my runs as I can in an effort to get faster, and while I can easily estimate energy expenditure during an uphill run due to the change in elevation, I ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

How long until we fall into the Sun?

As a planet moves through the solar system, a bow shock is formed as the solar wind is decelerated by the magnetic field of the planet. Presumably the creation of this shock wave would cause drag on ...
0
votes
0answers
21 views

Estimating the fatigue life of elastomer diaphragm [duplicate]

Disclaimer: I have asked this question before, but it got put on hold because it was judged as off-topic. I happened to disagree and explained my reasons in the comments, but they have been ignored, ...
1
vote
0answers
1k views

What is the maximum non-fatal force withstandable by a human being for a short period?

Assuming any (optimal) body orientation/position relative to the direction of force and mechanism of death. I'd be interested in a rough estimate of threshold force and a suggested mechanism of ...
29
votes
3answers
2k views

Floating a ping pong ball in the air just using a pen!

Caution: Apparently this problem is harder than it seems! There is a well known phenomena, which I first learnt about when I was a 10 years old kid. You can levitate a ping pong(or whatever ...