Applies to questions related to common objects and frequently experienced effects. Typically, these questions require explaining how the laws of physics are applied to a common situation, how objects work, etc.

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41
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8answers
2k views

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 ...
27
votes
8answers
4k views

Why doesn't the bike fall if going with a high speed?

Why does the bike fall when its speed is very low or close to zero and is balanced when going with a high speed?
34
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 ...
15
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
7
votes
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 ...
24
votes
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
votes
4answers
1k 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
3
votes
2answers
1k 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
votes
1answer
95 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
612 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
votes
1answer
92 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 ...
78
votes
23answers
7k 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 ...
34
votes
5answers
13k 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. ...
9
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does paper become transparent 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 transparent; but when I attempt the same with water it doesn't as much. Why?
3
votes
7answers
525 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
vote
1answer
296 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
516 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?
1
vote
1answer
645 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 ...
38
votes
16answers
3k 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.
46
votes
7answers
6k 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
votes
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 ...
19
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
24
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
25
votes
3answers
3k 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
votes
5answers
6k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
915 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: ...
15
votes
7answers
4k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
666 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
238 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
501 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
646 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
460 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
306 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
189 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
292 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
votes
3answers
1k 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
votes
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
vote
1answer
135 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 ...
-4
votes
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
817 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Why does my refrigerator door resist opening?

After closing my refrigerator's door I noticed that it's much harder to reopen it immediately, as if there's an underpressure. Only after a minute or so it opens normally. How can this be explained?
9
votes
4answers
2k views

Does it matter how you order your tug-of-war participants?

In a tug-of-war match today, my summer camp students were very concerned about putting the biggest people at the back of the rope. Is there any advantage to this strategy?
7
votes
2answers
388 views

Why do books have dog ears?

I googled the question and found no explanation. It seems that dog ears are inevitable (for paperbacks, notably) even if you've always been careful. From my experience, they are about equally likely ...
4
votes
2answers
144 views

Why does my kettle only make a noise when it is turned on

Almost as soon as I turn my kettle on it starts to make the familiar kettle noise, yet very shortly after turning off the power the boiling noise stops and the kettle is totally silent. The ...
3
votes
2answers
492 views

Performance of a thermos bottle relative to contents

I'm not a physicist but I majored it at high school (a long time ago) and I study university math. Me and my roommate discussed whether the performance of a Thermos bottle is influenced by how full ...
3
votes
3answers
613 views

Is there more energy in the collapse of a cavitation bubble than the energy required to create the bubble in the first place?

The following does not include all scientific details and parameters, only a common summary of "thoughts". What is scientifically wrong with this summary? When you take your beer and tap the top ...
3
votes
3answers
589 views

What is the most efficient way to use hand dryer?

What's the most efficient way to place your hands under the hand dryer? Let's assume that dryer creates simple downward flow of hot air. Here are some examples: