Concerns the application of the laws of physics to analyze common situations encountered in everyday life.

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41
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8answers
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How can Magnets be used to pick up pieces of metal when the force from a magnetic field does no work?

I learned that the force from magnetic fields does no work. However I was wondering how magnets can be used to pick up pieces of metal like small paperclips and stuff. I also was wondering how magnets ...
22
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2answers
5k views

Why is boiling water loud, then quiet?

Water in my electric kettle makes the most noise sixty to ninety seconds before the water comes to a full boil. I have been fooled many times by the noisy kettle, only to discover that the water was ...
36
votes
3answers
2k views

Why wet is dark?

When something gets wet, it usually appears darker. This can be observed with soil, sand, cloth, paper, concrete, bricks ... What is the reason for this? How does water soaking into the material ...
7
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6answers
1k views

Is electricity instantaneous?

My question is basically what exactly is electricity? I've simply been told before that it's a flow of electrons, but this seems too basic and doesn't show that electricity is instant. What I mean is ...
183
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4answers
31k views

Can I compute the mass of a coin based on the sound of its fall?

Other day, I bumped my bookshelf and a coin fell down. This gave me an idea. Is it possible to compute the mass of a coin, based on the sound emitted when it falls? I think that there should be a ...
25
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6answers
2k views

Canonical everyday-life example of a technology that could not work without humans mastering QM in analogy to the application of GR in GPS?

The GPS is a very handy example in explaining to a broad audience why it is useful for humanity to know the laws of general relativity. It nicely bridges the abstract theory with daily life ...
19
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4answers
2k views

Why does a cork float to the side of a glass?

What is this physical phenomenon and when it's happen ? Please take a look at this picture: Link to picture Notice: This is a cork ball attracted to sides of a glass of water
9
votes
2answers
462 views

Why don't we see solar and lunar eclipses often?

Since we see the new moon at least once in a month when the Moon gets in between of the Sun and the Earth during the evening ( and as far as I know if this happens during the day, you'll get to see a ...
3
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2answers
2k views

Relating milliampere-hours to watt-hours for batteries

I've seen many batteries that are measured in milliampere hours (mAh), while others are measured in watt hours (wh). How can I convert them between each other so that I can actually compare them? It's ...
0
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1answer
99 views

Increase in cloth's mass

When we iron our clothes does the mass of the cloth increase, since energy transformation and transfer happens, Einstein's energy mass relation comes to action and causes increase in mass. Am I right ...
77
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24answers
8k views

How can you weigh your own head in an accurate way?

I read some methods but they're not accurate. They use the Archimedes principle and they assume uniform body density which of course is far from true. Others are silly like this one: Take a knife ...
1
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1answer
906 views

Is squared motor gearbox ratio proportional to inertia ratio?

I read an interesting article http://m.machinedesign.com/news/motor-sizing-made-easy It is very interesting, but I can not follow the 2nd last paragraph. I don't understand why it is true. ...
-1
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1answer
106 views

Heat preserving performance of container relative to content

This question has been addressed in the case of a thermos bottle: Performance of a thermos bottle relative to contents I am asking the question again without the hypothesis that it is a thermos ...
19
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6answers
4k views

Why Won't a Tight Cable Ever Be Fully Straight?

I posted this picture of someone on a zipline on Facebook. One of my friends saw it and asked this question, so he could try to calculate the speed at which someone on the zipline would be going ...
34
votes
5answers
16k views

Why do power lines buzz?

When near high tension power lines, particularly after a good rain, the lines themselves emit a buzzing noise. A similar noise can be heard coming out of the electric meters attached to my apartment. ...
11
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3answers
3k views

Why is there more steam after a pot of water *stops* boiling?

I have a pot of vigorously boiling water on a gas stove. There's some steam, but not alot. When I turn off the gas, the boiling immediately subsides, and a huge waft of steam comes out. This is ...
17
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1answer
3k views

Why does paper become translucent when smeared with oil but not (so much) with water?

When I smear oil onto a scrap of paper and rub it in, the paper becomes quite translucent; but when I attempt the same with water it doesn't as much. Why?
13
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2answers
2k views

Why does one get an illusion as moon following him?

When you run or ride bike at night if you observe the moon you feel like he moves along with you as the same speed you are going. Why?
3
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7answers
813 views

How do I see things of the bright room, being in the dark room?

Visible light emitted or reflected from the objects around us provides information about the world. If I sit in a dark room, and see the bright room outside, I am able to see all the objects of ...
1
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1answer
375 views

Confused about fire?

Im confused about fire. The way I see it : Heat creates (kinetic) energy in mass and this creates stronger vibrations of atoms. When those vibrations are strong enough the electrons interact ...
7
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4answers
14k views

Why can't helicopters reach mount everest?

Is there a reason why people can't just take the helicopter to mount Everest? Why is it that helicopters can't reach that high?
5
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1answer
591 views

Why do wheels appear to revolve opposite to the direction they are rotating?

When viewing cars that are driving along side of us, sometimes their wheels appear to be turning backwards even though they are traveling in the same direction as our car. Why do they look that way?
8
votes
4answers
1k views

What happens when we cut objects?

What is the role of the molecular bonds in the process of cutting something? What the one of the Pauli exclusion principle, responsible for the "hardness" of matter? Moreover, is all the energy ...
1
vote
1answer
998 views

Calculate the distance between two points from iPhone Camera

I want to calculate the distance between two objects using an iPhone camera. Suppose I'm standing with my iPhone 10 feet away from the objects. Now, I want to calculate the distance between those ...
39
votes
16answers
4k views

Quantum mechanics and everyday nature

Is there a phenomenon visible to the naked eye that requires quantum mechanics to be satisfactorily explained? I am looking for a sort of quantic Newtonian apple.
49
votes
8answers
10k views

Why does a remote car key work when held to your head/body?

I was trying to unlock my car, but I was out of range. A friend of mine said that I have to hold the transmitter next to my head. It worked, so I tried the following later that day: Walked away from ...
40
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1answer
2k views

Why does dry spaghetti break into three pieces as opposed to only two?

You can try it with your own uncooked spaghetti if you want; it almost always breaks into three when you snap it. I am asking for a good physical theory on why this is along with evidence to back it ...
25
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6answers
6k views

How do whisky stones keep your drink cold?

From a discussion in the DMZ (security stack exchange's chat room - a place where food and drink are important topics) we began to question the difference between how ice and whisky stones work to ...
18
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2answers
1k 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 ...
28
votes
3answers
4k views

Where does the light go when I turn off the light switch?

As above... Surely it must go somewhere? My child asked me this question and it was a difficult one to answer.
23
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6answers
7k 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 ...
16
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7answers
6k views

Does an empty refrigerator require more power to stay cold than a full one?

Given that everything else is equal (model of fridge, temperature settings, external temperature, altitude), over a given duration of having the door closed, does it require more electricity to cool ...
5
votes
1answer
970 views

Hit a bottle of beer on the top with another causes the first to spit all the gas, why?

So, on the other day me and my colleges were discussing the following phenomena: Pick two open bottles of beer. With the bottom of the first, hit the second on the bottleneck, in the following way: ...
3
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4answers
2k views

Why does smoke go out the window of the car - and what if there's wind blowing instead of the car moving?

When driving a car while smoking with the window open (safety and legal issues aside), I've noticed that the smoke tends to go outside the window. Why does the smoke go outside? If the car is ...
9
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4answers
4k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
708 views

How hot is the water in the pot?

Question: How hot is the water in the pot? More precisely speaking, how can I get a temperature of the water as a function of time a priori? Background & My attempt: Recently I started spend ...
7
votes
1answer
149 views

Why does my body create interference with my clock radio while in bed?

I typically listen to NPR in the morning from a clock radio next to my bed. There are days when just moving my body, even my arm or leg, is enough to cause interference with the radio to dramatically ...
3
votes
1answer
275 views

Why does the bubbling of a soda bottle pulsate?

If I take a bottle of carbonated water and open the cap slightly to allow the gas to escape, there will be a sudden rush of bubbles foaming to the top of the liquid for a few seconds, then a partial ...
15
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1answer
670 views

Why is boiling water the second time more quiet than boiling it the first time?

First of all: This is a different question than Why is boiling water loud, then quiet?, although the answers might be similar. When I wake up, I boil some water for a cup of tea. It happens quite ...
14
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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 ...
8
votes
6answers
578 views

What's the best strategy to fully fill the fridge with beer bottles and have them all cooled?

I'm having a party. Suppose I'd like to have a fridge full of cold ($6~^\circ\text{C}$ or below) beer bottles, in as short a time frame as possible. The fridge indicates that it is targeting (and ...
8
votes
2answers
903 views

How does my hand amplify an FM radio signal?

I have a gizmo that broadcasts an FM radio signal from my phone's headphone socket to my car's radio antenna. Sometimes, there's another station on the same frequency with a stronger signal and my ...
5
votes
3answers
462 views

How does a canvas water bag cool water?

I was reading about this water bottle by Botl that behaves like a canvas water bags to keep water cool. I found out that this idea is an old idea and cars would drive with water bags in front as shown ...
5
votes
2answers
362 views

Why can't I slap an insect into unconsciousness?

So it is summer, which means I have to deal with insects. Today one has made it into my room and while I tried to work this insect was constantly in my face, which caused me waving my hands in the ...
4
votes
2answers
214 views

Shape of the rainbow

I have watched Walter Lewin's lecture(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QVbE_tU2sA) which was about the rainbows. But there is still a question bothering me. I understood the first part of the ...
4
votes
3answers
365 views

Does more rain strike a vehicle while moving or while stopped (or neither)? [duplicate]

Assume there is a rainstorm, and the rain falling over the entire subject area is perfectly, uniformly distributed. Now assume there are two identical cars in this area. One is standing still, and ...
4
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3answers
2k views

Please recommend a good book about physics for young child (elementary school aged) [closed]

I'm looking for a book that would be appropriate for an advanced elementary school aged kids (say, 6-11 YO) describing the basics of physics (or sciences in general) in entertaining way. The ...
4
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4answers
2k views

How does radio receives signal from particular station?

When you tune your radio (digital or analog) to receive say 100 MHz frequency and while in the environment there are hundreds of channels everywhere around the radio. How does it chooses to receive ...
1
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1answer
138 views

Settling of rice as it's cooked

I couldn't think of a better title because I'm not sure what's going on with this phenomenon--someone who has an answer, please edit to fit this better. I noticed that when I cook rice, at some point ...
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4answers
1k views

Relativity in Real Life

I have no formal training at all in relativity. But I was just wondering if our perception of time is altered by different events. Here are some examples I had in mind: If I touch a stove for 10 ...