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71
votes
6answers
19k views

Why are most metals gray/silver?

Why do most metals (iron, tin, aluminum, lead, zinc, tungsten, nickel, etc.) appear silver or gray in color? (What atomic characteristics determine the color?) What makes copper and gold have ...
9
votes
3answers
38k views

In electrostatics, why the electric field inside a conductor is zero?

In electromagnetism books, such as Griffiths or the like, when they talk about the properties of conductors in case of electrostatics they say that the electric field inside a conductor is zero. I ...
205
votes
11answers
44k views

Why don't metals bond when touched together?

It is my understanding that metals are a crystal lattice of ions, held together by delocalized electrons, which move freely through the lattice (and conduct electricity, heat, etc.). If two pieces ...
6
votes
4answers
14k views

Why is the conductor an equipotential surface in electrostatics?

Since the electric field inside a conductor is zero that means the potential is constant inside a conductor, which means the "inside" of a conductor is an equal potential region. Why do books also ...
6
votes
1answer
250 views

Reflectivity of a glowing-hot metal surface

When a polished piece of metal (or steel in particular) is heated to incandescence, how do its reflective properties change? Given a mirror-like surface, would the object temporarily cease to act ...
46
votes
8answers
55k views

Will a hole cut into a metal disk expand or shrink when the disc is heated?

Suppose you take a metal disc and cut a small, circular hole in the center. When you heat the whole thing, will the hole's diameter increase or decrease? and why?
35
votes
1answer
6k views

Was Titanic's captain's decision correct?

I just saw a documentary on Titanic. Someone in that documentary told Captain Smith "Shall we close the water tight doors, sir?" and the Captain replied "No, let it be open. Let the water ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do most metals appear silver in color with gold being an exception from a scattering and EM viewpoint?

Related: Why are most metals gray/silver? After reading Johannes’ impressive answer to Ali Abbasinasab question of why do most metals appear silver in color with the exception of gold (and copper), ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Resistance between two points in an infinite metal sphere/cube

Let's imagine that we have a tridimensional metal object of infinite size, and decide to calculate the resistance between two arbitrary points. How would we go about doing this? I have thought of two ...
7
votes
4answers
5k views

How does positive charge spread out in conductors?

I know that when there are excess positive charges in a conductor, for example, a metal sphere, the positive charges will spread out over its surface. However, I am confused about how this excess ...
1
vote
1answer
100 views

Why metals fused in vacuum? [duplicate]

On Earth when two pieces of metal comes into direct contact with each other, nothing amazing happens. In a complete vacuum condition the two metals fused permanently, how and why?
45
votes
2answers
6k views

Why are gold mirrors yellow?

Why are golden mirrors yellow? Do they add a yellow component to the spectrum or absorb non-yellow components? If they absorb, then why are they used in telescopes being imperfect? If they add a ...
15
votes
3answers
824 views

Why would different metals glow red at different temperatures?

According to everything I've been taught about incandescence and black-body radiation, and some quick Googling to confirm I'm not crazy, just about everything, regardless of composition, should start ...
23
votes
3answers
27k 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. ...
6
votes
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
115 views

Why are some elemental materials grey?

How does grey occur in elemental materials such as metals? I believe that grey arises from the simultaneous reflection and absorption of all colors of the spectrum (in different atoms of course), as ...
2
votes
2answers
536 views

Why does room temperature water and metal feel almost as cool as each other?

From what I've read about heat, temperature and conductivity, I understand that the reason water at room temperature feels colder than most other things at the same temperature (like wood, air, cotton)...
2
votes
1answer
174 views

Electron density in metals at non zero temperature

When computing the electron density in metals, the usual crude result is computed for zero temperature. That is, we integrate \begin{equation} n=\frac{8\sqrt{2}\pi m^{3/2}}{h^{3}} \int\limits_{0}^{E_{...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

Properties to select suitable materials for making permanent magnets

I have read that soft iron is suitable for making a permanent magnet. Because it is required for permanent magnet to have high coercivity and high retentivity. Same text also said earlier that soft ...
1
vote
1answer
175 views

What makes metal change its color during heating?

What happens on atomic and molecular level? Is this true also for non-metals and metalloids?
0
votes
2answers
90 views

What is a simple calculation to figure out how many watts needed to maintain a hot piece of tungsten?

The specific heat of tungsten is $.13 (\text{kJ /(kg K)})$. 1 cubic cm of tungsten is .0193 kg And the melting point of stainless steel is $1900 \deg \text{K}$ conservatively (giving it plenty of ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is quicksilver (mercury) liquid at room temperature?

This is a nice question when you find it out, and I am really looking for a proper answer. Take quicksilver (Hg) in the periodic table. It has one proton more than Gold (melting point 1337.33 K), and ...
7
votes
2answers
32k views

Why does magnet attract iron but not other metals?

While searching, i found this page: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/stoi/Why-does-a-magnet-attract-iron/articleshow/4298171.cms but it does not have full explanation. So Please tell full ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

What characterizes a metallic sound, and why do metals have a metallic sound?

We know that when we strike a metal, it usually has a characteristic "sharp" sound, unlike when we strike wood, say. What characterizes this "metallic sound"? Does it have a well-defined power ...
2
votes
1answer
173 views

Cold welding of a metallic surface

I have heard of cold welding, it's said that it's only possible if the surface is very clean. Can cold welding be accomplished by shearing a metal object and then immediately touching the newly ...
1
vote
2answers
428 views

Does Earth produce metallic elements in its core?

Does Earth produce metallic elements in its core?
1
vote
1answer
28 views

Find the spectral distribution of a metallic reflection given electron configuration

If I have the electron configuration for a metallic element, how do I find the spectral distribution of its specular reflection? For example, for gold (2,8,18,32,18,1) I should get a greater ...