# Tagged Questions

The result of sampling the property of a system

24answers
15k 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 ...
5answers
6k views

### How do laser “tape measures” work?

There is a device available for about $\$40$, which fits in the palm of the hand, runs on two AA batteries, and can measure distances up to$50\,{\rm ft}$to an accuracy of$\sim \frac{1}{8}''$($\sim ...
12answers
11k 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?
5answers
6k views

### What if the universe is rotating as a whole?

Suppose in the milliseconds after the big bang the cosmic egg had aquired some large angular momentum. As it expanded, keeping the momentum constant (not external forces) the rate of rotation would ...
1answer
3k views

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

I am interested in the practical method and I like to discover if it is cheap enough to be done as an experiment in a high school.
2answers
5k views

### How does one measure the mass of a galaxy? And other such large quantities

Trained as a pure mathematician, I see claims about the mass of a galaxy and other such huge measurements that are arrived at experimentally, and I just have to scratch my head. I know this is a bit ...
4answers
3k views

### If the LHC-calculated mass of the Higgs is wrong, how long will it take to determine this with confidence? [closed]

After I watched "Particle Fever"--the movie about Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and the successful identification of the Higgs boson--I became a bit concerned with that team's handling of various ...
1answer
1k views

### Is the Uncertainty Principle valid for information about the past?

My layman understanding of the Uncertainty Principle is that you can't determine the both the position and momentum of a particle at the same point in time, because measuring one variable changes the ...
5answers
250 views

### How is anything *not* ultimately a position measurement?

Consider measuring the momentum of an electron. You pass it through some kind of electromagnetic field, it strikes a photodetector (e.g. a CCD), and you back-calculate out the momentum of the ...
3answers
8k views

### Home experiments to measure the RPM of a pedestal fan without special equipment?

Is it possible to determine to an approximate degree, the revolutions per minute of a fan, for example a pedesal fan pictured below, without using some electronic/mechanical measuring device? One ...
2answers
304 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 ...
2answers
965 views

### How precise can current technologies measure the mass of an object?

Masses of various objects are listed on this wikipedia page: Orders of magnitude (mass). For example, mass of an HIV-1 virus is on the order of 1 femtogram. Are these data actually measured (which I ...
7answers
900 views

### Can a ultracentrifuge be used to test general relativity?

With today's ultracentrifuge technology, they can spin so fast that the sample can be subjected to accelerations of up to 2 millions Gs. That is equivalent to two solar masses. Has someone tried to ...
4answers
914 views

### Can we measure an electromagnetic field?

As far as I can check, the Aharonov-Bohm effect is not -- contrary to what is claimed in the historical paper -- a demonstration that the vector potential $A$ has an intrinsic existence in quantum ...
3answers
592 views

### If time standard clocks and any memories about the time standard are destroyed, can we recover the time standard again?

Assume the time standard clocks and any memories about the time standard are destroyed. Can we recover the time standard again exactly? Recovering the time standard again means we can determine the ...
2answers
696 views

### Unambiguous distinguishing of quantum states by local measurement

Let's have two orthogonal n-particle quantum states: $|\psi \rangle$ and $|\phi \rangle$. In theory it is always possible to make an unambiguous measurement. However, things get complicated when one ...
2answers
183 views

### Is there a fundamental limit to the temporal resolution of signals from space?

In Earth-based experiments, we can measure phenomenon very rapidly in an experiment given appropriate equipment. Clearly if something takes a long exposure to see (due to a weak signal), then the ...
3answers
404 views

### What does multiplying two real-world values represent? [duplicate]

I totally get what division means in the real world. "dollars / hour", well, that's the number of dollars you will make in one hour. "kilometers / gallon" is the distance you can go with a gallon of ...
3answers
14k views

### Rough, easy DIY method of measuring magnetic field strength

How to easily, using standard DIY equipment measure the strength of magnetic field generated by a permanent magnet? Narrowing down the "loose language" of the above: strength of magnetic field: ...
4answers
1k views

### Energy Measurements in a Two Fermion Double Well System

This question is related but my question here is much more elementary than discussions of the Pauli principle across the universe. There has been a fair amount of discussion around at the moment on ...
10answers
439 views

### Could one measure a stick to an arbitrary precision by having its length estimated by enough people?

I remember reading somewhere that the problem of exact time-keeping on ships could have been solved a lot earlier than it was if somebody would have had the idea of keeping time with a whole array of ...
3answers
938 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 ...
3answers
1k views

### How can I weigh liquid in a sealed container?

How do you measure the mass and volume of alcohol if it is in a sealed container? Are there clever ways of achieving this? The weight of the container is not known. I can't open the container, I can'...
3answers
9k views

### How to combine measurement error with statistic error

We have to measure a period of an oscillation. We are to take the time it takes for 50 oscillations multiple times. I know that I will have a $\Delta t = 0.1 \, \mathrm s$ because of my reaction time....
3answers
10k views

### How is a second measured? And why is it measured that way?

The earth's rotation around the sun isn't exactly 24 hours. It off by some seconds which becomes somewhere around 6 hours per year and 1 day in 4 years(leap year), which brings the question why didn't ...
4answers
18k views

### Weight on carpet vs. hard floor

Will the scale say I weigh more, less, or the same on a carpet as compared to a hard floor? You can assume the scale works via spring mechanism. Free body diagrams encouraged!
1answer
219 views

### Is it possible to determine whether distant galaxies are gravitationally bound

In a previous question, one issue was related to the potential energy of cosmic structures. This raised in particular the question of whether these structures are gravitationally bound. If you ...
1answer
84 views

### Why is the measured distance to the Triangulum Galaxy much more uncertain than to the Andromeda Galaxy?

Why is the measured distance uncertainty for M33 (835 ± 105 kiloparsec) six times bigger than the measured distance uncertainty for M31 (778 ± 17 kiloparsec)? They are approximately at the same ...
4answers
788 views

### Doesn't the use of a thermometer alter the temperature of the system?

If I place a mercury thermometer in hot water, heat energy will transfer from the water to the mercury inside the thermometer. Will this continue until thermal equilibrium is reached and thus the ...
1answer
6k views

### Why is carbon dating limit only 40,000 years?

For an example, when they tried to get the carbon dating for presence of Aboriginal people in Australia they get to the number 40,000. But it could be much earlier. Why is that 40,000 years limit for ...
3answers
660 views

### Is a “shift in the meaning” of Accuracy and Precision occurring?

Accuracy and precision are among the most fundamental concepts in experimental physics, and, I always believed, completely unambiguous. Recently I found that the Wikipedia article on Accuracy and ...
5answers
857 views

### How would I go about detecting monopoles?

A question needed for a "solid" sci-fi author: How to detect a strong magnetic monopole? (yes, I know no such thing is to be found on Earth). Think of basic construction details, principles of ...
1answer
761 views

### Weinberg angle measurement methods

I was reading up on the history of $W/Z$ bosons today and I got a little puzzled. I always assumed that people measured $M_Z$ and $M_W$ and then derived the Weinberg angle. But it appears that they ...
1answer
74 views

### Have we measured the rate at which Jupiter is shrinking?

On most websites that I looked at, it says Jupiter is shrinking 2cm/year (for example wikipedia and Quora). However neither of these website say whether this rate is measurable (the latter says it is ...
11answers
2k views

### Is it possible for a physical object to have a irrational length?

Suppose I have a caliper that is infinitely precise. Also suppose that this caliper returns not a number, but rather whether the precise length is rational or irrational. If I were to use this ...
5answers
1k views

### Proving and demonstrating vacuum in container without breaking it

Let there be a hollow container made of glass or some other transparent material, roughly the size and shape of an apple. Let the walls be of sufficient thickness for the container to be safely ...
7answers
770 views

### Shouldn't the Uncertainty Principle be intuitively obvious, at least when talking about the position and momentum of an object?

Please forgive me if I'm wrong, as I have no formal physics training (apart from some in high school and personal reading), but there's something about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle that strikes ...
5answers
2k views

### Measuring the speed of light and defining the metre - absolute or relative?

If the metre is now defined as the distance light travels in vacuum in 1⁄299,792,458th of a second and the speed of light is accepted to be ...
1answer
343 views

### Is it feasible to measure the energy of cosmic ray muons with a consumer Digital Single Lens Reflex camera?

I have read this article SIBBERNSEN, Kendra. Catching Cosmic Rays with a DSLR. Astronomy Education Review, 2010, 9: 010111. and it talks about estimating the muon cosmic ray flux by means of a DSLR ...
4answers
5k views

### Measuring the spin of a single electron

Is it possible to measure the spin of a single electron? What papers have been published on answering this question? Would the measurement require a super sensitive SQUID, Superconductive Quantum ...
1answer
2k views

### How do bathroom scales measure body fat percent?

My bathroom scale has 2 metal strips each for a foot and the producer claims that it can measure body fat percent. There is a warning in the manual, that if I have heart problems (I guess pacemaker), ...
2answers
3k views

### Why does an infrared thermometer display very low temperature when being directed to the outer air?

I'm toying with an infrared thermometer - one which you point onto an object, press the button and it instantly measures the temperature by estimating the infrared radiation from the object. It shows ...
1answer
662 views

### Practical method to weigh human limbs with common household items?

What methods could be used to determine (or estimate within a reasonable margin of error) the mass of a living human's limbs, short of cutting them off? And more interestingly, how can this be done ...
1answer
2k views

### How to measure a solid-solid surface energy?

Many techniques exist to measure the surface energy between a liquid and a liquid or a liquid and a gas (see e.g. the wiki page). Methods to measure the surface energy between a solid and a fluid are ...
0answers
222 views

### Why is the Planck length the shortest measurable length? [duplicate]

I quote from the Wikipedia article on Planck length: According to the generalized uncertainty principle, the Planck length is in principle, within a factor of order unity, the shortest ...
5answers
1k views

### Number of significant figures

I am looking for an intuitive answer that will explain me why there are only two significant figures in say the number 1500. Also definition from wikipedia: The significant figures of a number ...
4answers
4k views

### Finding the volume of this irregular shape I have

I have an approximately basketball-sized non-hollow piece of aluminum sitting in my house that is of irregular shape. I need to find the volume of it for a very legitimate yet irrelevant reason. ...
9answers
5k views

### How to measure speed of a ceiling fan?

I thought for fun I might measure how my ceiling fan slows down when turned off, and maybe find out what forces act on it when it slows down. My problem is that for that I need to measure its ...
1answer
2k views

### The uncertainty of a metre ruler?

I have been taught that the uncertainty in the measurement of a metre ruler is +-1 mm. However , I was also taught that the uncertainty is half of the smallest division in the measuring instrument. So,...
3answers
465 views

### experimental technique for measuring temperature of an ant

I am taking a course on thermodynamics. I have a question from my text(halliday & resnick,physics-1). They asked me to measure temperature of an ant or an insect or a small body,like a small robot....