for questions about design, process, data, or analysis of experiments and observations.

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375
votes
20answers
137k views

Cooling a cup of coffee with help of a spoon

During the breakfast with my colleagues, a question popped into my head: What is the fastest method to cool a cup of coffee, if your only available instrument is a spoon? A qualitative answer would ...
123
votes
11answers
17k views

What experiment would disprove string theory?

I know that there's big controversy between two groups of physicists: those who support string theory (most of them, I think) and those who oppose it. One of the arguments of the second group is ...
74
votes
5answers
6k views

What was the major discovery on gravitational waves made March 17th, 2014, in the BICEP2 experiment?

The Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics held a press conference today to announce a major discovery relating to gravitational waves. What was their announcement, and what are the implications? ...
47
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the upper-limit on intrinsic heating due to dark matter?

Cold dark matter is thought to fill our galactic neighborhood with a density $\rho$ of about 0.3 GeV/cm${}^3$ and with a velocity $v$ of roughly 200 to 300 km/s. (The velocity dispersion is much ...
42
votes
6answers
7k views

What technology can result from such expensive experiment as undertaken in CERN?

I wonder what technology can be obtained from such very expensive experiments/institutes as e.g. undertaken in CERN? I understand that e.g. the discovery of the Higgs Boson confirms our understanding ...
41
votes
2answers
7k views

Why do earphone wires always get tangled up in pocket?

What is the reason? Is it caused by their narrow shape, the soft material, walking vibration or something else?
37
votes
13answers
9k views

Home experiments to derive the speed of light?

Are there any experiments I can do to derive the speed of light with only common household tools?
35
votes
13answers
9k views

Why is cold fusion considered bogus?

Cold fusion is being mentioned a lot lately because of some new setup that apparently works. This is an unverified claim. See for example: ...
35
votes
5answers
2k views

Scattering of light by light: experimental status

Scattering of light by light does not occur in the solutions of Maxwell's equations (since they are linear and EM waves obey superposition), but it is a prediction of QED (the most significant Feynman ...
33
votes
4answers
2k views

What is needed to claim the discovery of the Higgs boson?

As I understand the Higg's boson can be discovered by the LHC because the collisions are done at an energy that is high enough to produce it and because the luminosity will be high enough also. But ...
33
votes
11answers
13k views

How did Newton discover his second law?

I've always assumed/been told that Newton's 2nd law is an empirical law — it must be discovered by experiment. If this is the case, what experiments did Newton do to discover this? Is it related to ...
28
votes
6answers
7k views

Why is jumping into water from high altitude fatal?

If I jump from an airplane straight positioned upright into the ocean, why is it the same as jumping straight on the ground? Water is a liquid as opposed to the ground, so I would expect that by ...
28
votes
6answers
2k views

How to determine your position underground?

Crossed my mind after random rant on wikipedia that lead me to articles about chronometers and measuring position. Let's assume I were trapped in the underground laboratory with lots of equipment ...
28
votes
4answers
4k views

Has gravity ever been experimentally measured between two atoms?

Has there been any experiments, or are there any references, demonstrating gravity between atoms? If so, what are the key experiments/papers? Or if not, what is the smallest thing that has actually ...
25
votes
5answers
3k views

Why isn't Higgs coupling considered a fifth fundamental force?

When I first learned about the four fundamental forces of nature, I assumed that they were just the only four kind of interactions there were. But after learning a little field theory, there are many ...
25
votes
1answer
633 views

Best current bounds on nonconservation of momentum?

It's not straightforward to test conservation of momentum experimentally, and many experiments that seem like tests really aren't. For example, in a Newtonian system of identical particles that ...
23
votes
5answers
7k views

Is this kids experiment a legitimate way to show that air has mass?

Consider the experiment in this link. The experiment includes using a ruler as a lever, with an inflated balloon on one side and a balloon which is not inflated on the other. The aim of the ...
23
votes
2answers
196 views

experimental bounds on spacetime torsion

Did Gravity Probe B provide any bounds on Einstein-Cartan torsion? is a non-zero torsion value at odds with the results regarding frame-dragging and geodetic effects?
21
votes
2answers
2k views

What exactly do we see on the famous neutrino image of the sun?

An answer to the question If we could build a neutrino telescope, what would we see? contains a link to a neutrino image of the sun by the Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector. There it says that ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

How do people calculate proportions of dark matter, dark energy and baryonic matter of the universe?

The Wikipedia page on dark matter mentions that the Planck mission had revealed that in our universe ordinary baryonic matter, dark matter and dark energy are present in the ratio: 4.9%, 26.8% and ...
20
votes
3answers
7k views

Is there a compound denser than the densest element?

I'm musing about how to give students an intuitive feeling about density by letting them lift a same sized volume of different materials, e.g. 1 liter of water, a 10x10x10 cm cube of iron, lead etc. ...
19
votes
3answers
906 views

Has the gravitational interaction of antimatter ever been examined experimentally?

I know that the gravitational interaction of antimatter is expected to be the same as normal matter. But my question is, has it ever been experimentally validated? I think it would not be a trivial ...
18
votes
5answers
4k views

Does red shift evidence necessarily imply that the universe started from a singularity?

We are taught that the universe began as a singularity - an infinitely small and infinitely dense point. At the beginning of time there was a 'Big Bang' or, more accurately, 'Inflation'. The main ...
18
votes
4answers
848 views

How can I determine whether the mass of an object is evenly distributed?

How can I determine whether the mass of an object is evenly distributed without doing any permanent damage? Suppose I got all the typical lab equipment. I guess I can calculate its center of mass and ...
18
votes
0answers
474 views

Status of experimental searches for tachyons?

Now that the dust has settled on the 2011 superluminal neutrino debacle at OPERA, I'm interested in understanding the current status of experimental searches for neutrinos. Although the OPERA claim ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

Which experiment gave scientists reason to believe nuclear fission/fusion produced energy?

Every piece of knowledge in science has a beginning lying in someone's experiment. I would like to know which experiment gave scientists the reason to believe nuclear fission/fusion existed and was ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there experimental evidence that massless particles such as photons attract massive objects?

For instance evidence that a highly energetic laser beam attracts objects nearby? In the framework of Einstein's general relativity all energy curves spacetime and hence exerts an attraction, but my ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

How did they measure the speed of light observing Jupiter's moons, centuries ago?

I am interested in the pratical method and I like to discover if it is cheap enough to be done as an experiment in a high school. Thank you.
17
votes
5answers
593 views

What experiments, other than Hubble Expansion, support the Dark Energy theory?

Dark energy is introduced as a constant inside Einstein's equations. Its primary purpose, from what I understand, is to make Einstein's equations compatible with the accelerating expansion of the ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Home experiments using wireless LAN or mobile phones about electromagnetism?

Are there any nice experiments using wireless LAN access points or routers or mobile phones to demonstrate physical features of electromagnetic fields, especially em-waves? More precisely I am ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

What ways are there to measure the local polarization of a laser beam?

Measuring the polarization of a laser beam is a simple enough task if the polarization is the same everywhere. You can even buy commercial polarimeters. How do you go about it if the light beam has ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

Why should any physicist know, to some degree, experimental physics?

I've been trying to design a list with reasons why a proper theoretical physicist should understand the methods and the difficulty of doing experimental physics. So far I've only thought of two ...
15
votes
5answers
10k views

How was Avogadro's number first determined?

I read on Wikipedia how the numerical value of Avogadro's number can be found by doing an experiment, provided you have the numerical value of Faraday's constant; but it seems to me that Faraday's ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Did the researchers at Fermilab find a fifth force?

Please consider the publication Invariant Mass Distribution of Jet Pairs Produced in Association with a W boson in $p\bar{p}$ Collisions at $\sqrt{s} = 1.96$ TeV by the CDF-Collaboration, ...
15
votes
5answers
942 views

Does a magnetically suspended frog feel weightless?

Magnetic levitation has been used to suspend frogs in midair. I was wondering: Does the animal still feel gravitational pull? I mean: Does the frog feel like an astronaut on the ISS, or does he feel ...
15
votes
5answers
4k views

Which experiments prove atomic theory?

Which experiments prove atomic theory? Sub-atomic theories: atoms have: nuclei; electrons; protons; and neutrons. That the number of electrons atoms have determines their relationship with other ...
15
votes
1answer
217 views

If time isn't continuous, what is the best-known upper bound on the length of time intervals?

There have been several questions about whether time is continuous or not and it seems like the answer isn't currently known. I know quantum mechanics treats time as continuous and any mathematics ...
15
votes
0answers
242 views

Are the fast axes on Thorlabs quarter-waveplates mislabeled?

Some members of my lab are performing a polarization-sensitive experiment where they need to use a quarter-waveplate (QWP) with the fast axis in a specific direction. In the process of carefully ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Evidence of why the Standard Model is a successful theory of particle physics

When discussing physics with laypersons, I'm often in the situation where I have to explain what the Standard Model is, and why it's a successful theory of particle physics. To help in such ...
14
votes
3answers
674 views

Accidental, unplanned breakthroughs in physics [closed]

There is possibly some idioms or saying like this, ``If you try too hard for something, you will never get it. If you do not aim for something, it may fall on you accidentally, not as you originally ...
14
votes
9answers
2k views

What are good mechanics experiments for 10 year olds? [closed]

I'm trying to explain elementary mechanics - without the benefits of calculus or even algebra - and struggling. I'd like to find reasonable ways to demonstrate Newton's laws, minimally, and possibly ...
14
votes
1answer
225 views

GHz rate single photon counting

The fluorescent lifetimes of molecules used in biological applications tend to be in the sub-ns to a few ns timescale (let's say 0.8-4). The most direct methods to measure lifetimes typically involve ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Why is it easier to break a tightened or stretched string than a loose one?

I want to know, why is it that it is easier to cut through a string which is tightened then a loose one? The question arose when I was watching - "What Happened Next?". In a part, they showed two ...
13
votes
5answers
517 views

Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry in Experiments?

As I hope is obvious to everyone reading this, the universe contains more matter than antimatter, presumably because of some slight asymmetry in the amounts of the two generated during the Big Bang. ...
13
votes
1answer
495 views

Could LEP II have discovered a 125GeV Higgs?

LEP II eliminated the Higgs up to 114.5GeV. If it had been run for longer could it have detected a Higgs at 125GeV? I Googled for this without any luck, though I did find a comment that LEP II topped ...
13
votes
3answers
857 views

How should I clean a part before installing it in a vacuum system?

What are proven procedures for preparing a part that comes fresh out of the workshop for ultra-high vacuum (UHV) and extremely-high vacuum (XUV)?
13
votes
6answers
4k views

What is the world's biggest Schrodinger cat?

How big is it by a truly quantum measurement? I am thinking of comparing Science magazines "Breakthrough of the Year" (BYOT) with the Zeilinger buckyball. The BYOT is a piezoelectric mechanical ...
13
votes
1answer
365 views

How are neutrino beams emitted at CERN?

As far I know they come from accelerator collisions, but I have read confusing things like magnetically focused. How could neutrinos be guided magnetically if they aren't affected by the ...
13
votes
3answers
482 views

What limitations are there in measuring physical properties accurately?

In a StackOverflow answer, I attempted to explain why a 32-bit float was perfectly adequate for representing the questioner's weight measurement: Physical properties are inaccurately measured ...
13
votes
1answer
132 views

Can a discrete dynode mass spec detector get “tired?”

In an electron multiplier (discrete dynode detector), one electron triggers the release of more electrons in a cascade. Is it possible that a "large" number of electrons hitting the detector can ...