The study of how the properties of matter arise from its structure at all scales and of how processing can be used to modify those properties (often in pursuit of a specific application).

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Shape of wall's deformation wave caused by baseball's impact

Clicking through this year's top sports pictures, I stumbled upon this one. I was wondering about the shape the baseball is leaving on the wall. What phenomenon causes this peculiar shape? Why is ...
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1answer
5k views

Why are some materials diamagnetic, others paramagnetic, and others ferromagnetic?

Why are some materials diamagnetic, others paramagnetic, and others ferromagnetic? Or, put another way, which of their atomic properties determines which of the three forms of magnetism (if at all) ...
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147 views

Why do headphones tangle themselves whereas shoe laces untie themselves?

Why do headphones tangle themselves whereas shoe laces untangle or untie themselves? Why aren't we using the phenomenon to create headphones that tangle less and shoe laces that untie less?
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1answer
1k views

Inflating a balloon (expansion resistance)

I am doing a quick calculation on how to calculate the pressure needed to inflate a perfectly spherical balloon to a certain volume, however I have difficulties with the fact that the balloon (rubber) ...
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1k views

Why is the AdS/CFT approach to superconductors rarely cited in condensed matter publications?

Let me put things into perspective by comparing with other applications of string theory. Nowadays review papers written by cosmologists about inflation models often discuss string theory scenarios ...
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227 views

Are there materials that get softer with temperature decrease?

Could be there material that begins melting/softening when it's temperature is lowered? I would say no, but I've seen enough physics to know that not always life is so easy. Moreover I think I've ...
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3answers
782 views

Why does foam dull knives?

I have recently taken up prop making and just started my first foam-built costume from a video game. These kinds of costume armour builds are often built out of the various foam floor mats you can buy ...
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3k views

Is there a Tungsten alloy more dense than gold?

This thought came from researching a previous question. In the spirit of our get-rich-quick scheming I looked up element densities and prices near gold. Element (g/cm^3) (dollars/kg) Uranium ...
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3answers
2k views

In mechanics, is shock really better expressed as jerk instead of acceleration?

Some expensive electronics or mechanical devices are designed to be shock-resistant. However, the manufacturers often market the level of shock-resistance in units of g-force (I know g-force is really ...
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4answers
16k views

What common materials absorb most infrared light?

I'm competing in a simple robotics competition where most of the participants use reflected infrared light to detect their opponent. I'd like to make my own robot as difficult to see as possible. What ...
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5answers
9k views

Why will clay, when heated to high temperatures, harden and become waterproof?

I have a question Why will clay, when heated to high temperatures, harden and become waterproof?
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1answer
4k views

Transparency of materials

Is transparency of material has something to do with inter- or intra-molecular bonding? E.g. both graphite and diamond are carbon, but graphite is opaque and diamond transparent.
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1k views

How does water carve rock?

How does water carve rock? And more generally, how does a soft material carve a hard material? Obviously it happens, but is it a continual process (every drop of soft water carries away a minute ...
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155 views

Invariant polynomials of the Landau theory of phase transitions (crystal symmetry?)

I'm convinced I'm missing something so obvious but here goes Typically, one can define something like a "general" expansion of an order parameter, ${\boldsymbol \Gamma}$, up to 6th order as follows $...
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2answers
1k views

Why do chocolate bars usually break at the cleavages?

Why do chocolate bars usually break at the cleavages? The chocolate bar is less thick at cleavages. How can we relate thickness and fracture point of chocolate bar?
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1answer
366 views

Force curve associated with squeezing a worm-like chain (WLC) between two parallel plates

Let's say I have a polymer, of contour length $L_p$ and persistence length $P$, positioned between two parallel plates separated by a distance $z$. I slowly squeeze the plates together until only two-...
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6answers
4k views

Is there any anti-gravity material?

I want to know if there is any anti-gravity material. I am thinking of making flying vehicles which are made up of anti-gravity material so that they will not experience any gravity on them and can ...
6
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3answers
289 views

Hollow gold bar

A scammer got a hollow gold bar and fills it with a combination of lead and air, with the same average density as gold. What's the simplest way of discovering the fraud? I know that x-rays will see ...
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3answers
1k views

Graphene +1 extra carbon bond

I'm not a physicist just a curious mind, so please go easy! I was just watching a BBC Horizon Documentary that featured a piece on the recently discovered material Graphene. One of the facts ...
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2answers
712 views

Why is it easier to glide on sharp ice skates than on dull skates?

There have been previous questions (e.g. here and here) on Physics.SE about the mechanism that makes ice skating possible. Reviewing these, as well external references, it seems pretty clear that the ...
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1answer
527 views

Why can we skate on ice? [duplicate]

I have known the reason why skate can slide over ice is that water's melting curve in terms of pressure and temperature has a negative slope. If the pressure due to our mass increases sufficiently ...
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4answers
4k views

Why does a spring lose its energy when compressed for a long time?

Why does a spring lose a part of its energy when compressed for a long period of time? Is it because the material gets bent?
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2answers
138 views

Why does glue stretch straighter than string?

So I have some bottles of lemonade and I peeled the labels off both of them, revealing the glue underneath. When these bottles were next to each other the glue stuck. I pulled them apart and it forms ...
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2answers
981 views

If sound wave is going to hit any metals can it make that metal electrons into exited state?

What will happen when sound wave hits the metals with very high frequency can it make the electrons to exited state. If it happens then what will be the state of that metal
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1answer
168 views

Material implementations of the holographic principle

I'm afraid this question is a little too open-ended, but bear with me while I find a better formulation. carbon allotropes (like fullerenes and graphene) are regular patterned. Conduction bands of ...
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1answer
334 views

Why Negative refractive index is negative

$n=\sqrt{\epsilon \mu }$ Negative refractive index happens when permittivity ($\epsilon $) and permeability ($\mu $)of a material is negative. My question is, if permittivity and permeabilitity of a ...
6
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1answer
149 views

Order of magnetic phase transitions

Is there any phase transition occur in paramagnetism to diamagnetism transitions state. What should be the order and how will I calculate the order?
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1answer
2k views

What is the penetration length of static electric field into conducting metals?

How large is the penetration length for static electric field into good conductors? I have two versions: (1) few atomic spacings $$a\sim n_{e}^{-1/3},$$ and (2) Debye length computed by Fermi ...
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0answers
47 views

Crack pattern of safety glass - what gives rise to spider web-like shape

When (laminated) security or shatter-proof glass fractures, the ensuing crack-pattern is often resembling a spider web, with radial and concentric cracks, see e.g. (Source: http://essentialhommemag....
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1answer
287 views

Force problem related to adhesive and bonding

I have two PCBs (printed circuit board), and they are glued by adhesives, as show in the pictures. And the location of the adhesives are indicated on the picture (please notice that NO adhesive is ...
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1answer
538 views

Semiconductor problem: how much Boron is required to establish a certain amount of charge carrier density

The problem description is as follows: Boron is used to dope 1 kg of germanium (Ge). How much boron (B) is required to establish a charge carrier density of 3.091 x 10^17 / cm^3. One mole of ...
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0answers
344 views

Why does the overhand knot jam but the figure-8 knot doesn't?

After tensioning a rope with an overhand knot in it, it is often very hard if not impossible to untie it; a figure-8 knot, on the other hand, still releases easily. Why is that so? Most "knot and ...
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2answers
11k views

Vibration as a means of passing through solid objects?

First of all, I think this is a weird question but I still want to know whether it's possible. There is a character in a cartoon network series who is really really fast. Sometimes he lets his own ...
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2answers
750 views

Consequences of destroying a space elevator

Suppose there is a fully functional space elevator built on Earth. The base is attached to coordinates $ (\lambda, \varphi) = (0,0) $ e.g., on the equator on the zero-meridian. What would happen ...
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5answers
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Why does grinding steel create sparks but aluminium doesn't?

Grinding steel produces sparks. Grinding aluminium does not. Why? I found this article about why grinding steel produces sparks but would like to confirm if it is true. I would also like to know why ...
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1answer
1k views

Origin of Elasticity

Why is it that not all bodies possess Elastic behavior? What is the origin of elasticity or plasticity? I mean, it's a physical property. So, how does it relate to atoms or molecules in different ...
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3answers
2k views

Optimal technique to tear perforated paper along the perforation [closed]

My daughter's coloring book has perforated pages, so you can easily rip out the pages for easier coloring action. Great. Trouble is, the perforation isn't enough, and it's almost impossible to rip ...
5
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2answers
826 views

Why is diamond transparent while graphite is not?

Diamond and graphite are both made of the same atom, carbon. Diamond has a tetrahedron structure while graphite has a flat hexagonal structure. Why is diamond transparent while graphite is not (at ...
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2answers
14k views

How to know what materials are good conductors of electricity?

I'm not asking a question like "Is the wood conductive?". No. I'm asking what properties do they have to have to be good conductors. Theoretically I mean.
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2answers
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Penetration of armor plate

Is there a simple mathematical expression for the stopping power of a given thickness of armor, given the thickness of armor plate, the radius of a cannon ball, the density of the cannonball and the ...
5
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1answer
172 views

Why does aluminium-on-glass mirror work without distortion?

I have read an article about glass (zerodur) with low thermal expansion coefficient. It is mentioned that large casts of such glass are covered with reflective layer of Aluminium and used as mirrors ...
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2answers
1k views

What properties would the ideal material for spacecraft construction possess?

Assuming we develop the capability to send a robot to study Gliese 518, or any of the Earth-like planets discovered in the neighbourhood; the spacecraft would need to travel through the Solar System ...
5
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1answer
53 views

Optical Retroreflectors: How Are the Faces So Accurately Righted?

This question is about Optical Retroreflectors (corner cubes) and how the extreme precision in their manufacturing is achieved. I suspect there is interesting basic physics involved, which is why the ...
5
votes
1answer
285 views

What would happen to a submarine coated in water repellent

I saw the article about laser-etched hydrophobic metal, and it got me thinking, how would a submarine function differently if coated as such? Would it move faster, sink completely, be unable to move ...
5
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1answer
185 views

Superhydrophobic coating and water friction

If you were to apply super-hydrophobic coating to the hull of ships or even submarines, would you get more or less water friction? If the coating completely repels the water you could argue there ...
5
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3answers
954 views

What makes materials hard and strong?

This is something I have wondered for a long time. Why are some materials like steel, diamond, and even light materials like graphene stronger than others? Is it due to the strength of the ...
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1answer
5k views

Transparency of solids using bandgaps and relation to conduction and valence bands

I think I understand how a solid can appear transparent as long as the energy of the photons travelling through it are not absorbed in the material's bandgap. But how does this band gap relate to ...
5
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1answer
3k views

Physical meaning of elastic constants of a monoclinic crystal

For the elasticity of a material, Hook's law can be written in tensorial form as: $$\sigma = \mathsf{C}\, \varepsilon$$ where $\sigma$ is the Cauchy stress tensor, $\varepsilon$ is the infinitesimal ...
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1answer
404 views

Why is a hexagon such a stable shape for materials?

A hexagonal lattice is famously the shape of graphene, the source of the 2010 Nobel prize. The shape also shows up in beehives and in the basalt columns of Giant's Causeway in County Antrim. "...
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1answer
246 views

What is the theoretical upper limit on the rigidity of a material?

Take a perfectly rigid metal rod of length $2\ell$ and some uniform linear density. Place one end (‘south’) at $(0,-\ell)$ and the other (‘north’) at $(0, \ell)$. Over some reasonably short time ...