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25
votes
6answers
3k views

How fast a (relatively) small black hole will consume the Earth?

This question appeared quite a time ago and was inspired, of course, by all the fuss around "LHC will destroy the Earth". Consider a small black hole, that is somehow got inside the Earth. Under ...
16
votes
2answers
5k views

Dumbed-down explanation how scientists know the number of atoms in the universe?

It is often quoted that the number of atoms in the universe is 10$^{70}$ or 10$^{80}$. How do scientists determine this number? And how accurate is it (how strong is the supporting evidences for ...
4
votes
3answers
245 views

What was the density of the universe when it was only the size of our solar system?

What was the density of the universe when it was only the size of our solar system? Did it approach neutron star density? Is it physically correct to even ask such a question?
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Effect on length of day as the polar ice caps melt

If the polar ice caps of the Earth melt, how will the length of the day be affected?
2
votes
2answers
2k views

When do I apply Significant figures in physics calculations?

I'm a little confused as to when to use significant figures for my physics class. For example, I'm asked to find the average speed of a race car that travels around a circular track with a radius of ...
18
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
357 views

Power to suspend a mass in air

How much power is needed to suspend a mass in the air? The four parts below deal with the same problem. I post them all here, should there be some subtle things I didn't see. The textbook problem A ...
9
votes
6answers
2k views

Gay-Lussac's Law & the Patriots

This may be a question better suited for xkcd what if? section...but here goes: with all the hoopla around the patriots / colts game and allegations of cheating by deflating footballs, I've read/heard ...
6
votes
3answers
176 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
80 views

Terminal velocity of a steel ball in water [closed]

I am investigating on the terminal velocity of steel balls moving in water. I used the balls with different diameters, such as 3.17mm, 6.02mm, etc. And I used a full-filled 1L graduated cylinder. I ...
29
votes
5answers
6k 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 ...
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 ...
29
votes
5answers
4k views

Why don't things get destroyed by gas molecules flying around?

Gas molecules go at an insane velocity, and though they are miniscule, yet there is a LOT of them. Of course, because of all these molecules hurtling around, there is air pressure; yet if you envision ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Why can't Humans run any faster?

If you wanted to at least semi-realistically model the key components of Human running, what are the factors that determine the top running speed of an individual? The primary things to consider would ...
3
votes
3answers
6k views

Which will stop first a heavier car or a lighter car?

If the friction from brakes, wind resistance and all such factors remain constant, which will stop first? A heavier car or a lighter car? How will the momentum of the car and gravitational pull on a ...
2
votes
2answers
1k 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) $S = 1367\frac{W}{m^2}$ ...
2
votes
2answers
150 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
662 views

Is it possible to produce gravitational waves artificially?

Why don't they make a ball with irregularities, say the size of a tennis ball, then spin it very rapidly, so it would produce gravitational waves like a spinning star with irregularities on it? Is ...
7
votes
1answer
702 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
101 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
174 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do mirages only appear on hot days?

A previous question asked why the road sometimes appears wet on hot days. The reason is that when there's a temperature gradient in the air, it causes a gradient in the index of refraction, causing ...
7
votes
1answer
121 views

Is it possible to remove the last block from a the lowest layer of a Jenga tower?

A while back, my brother and I had a discussion about the possibility of removing the last block from the lowest layer of a Jenga tower with the layer immediately above it having only one block in it ...
3
votes
1answer
119 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
151 views

Atoms in a piece of paper?

How many atoms are there in a common paper sheet? I mean, for example, in one of those we use for photocopies, numerically speaking, how many atoms in total? (Ten to the power of..?) And I'd like to ...
1
vote
1answer
203 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)?
-3
votes
2answers
106 views

How many atoms are there in our solar system?

Including all objects gravitationally bound to the Sun, how many atoms are there in our solar system?