Questions in this tag must be answered in a manner that can be understood by a general audience with at most a basic understanding of physics, mathematics and related sciences. Apply it to questions where the asker clearly requests such answers.

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0
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1answer
62 views

How do individual masses 'add up' to create a gravitational field?

The combined mass of the Earth is responsible for its local gravitational force. However, this combined mass is made up from of lots and lots (and lots) of atoms, each with their own individual mass ...
3
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0answers
52 views

Red shift and expansion of universe [duplicate]

We have been led to believe that in the theory of universe expansion, the farthest object is moving faster away from us than the nearest object, attributing the difference to red shift. Question: is ...
1
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2answers
102 views

Meaning of “realism” in quantum mechanics

When physicists doing work in quantum measurement, decoherence, Bells' inequalities etc. use the term "realism" what exactly do they mean? I'm looking for answers targeted towards, say, someone whose ...
4
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4answers
114 views

Is the Air Blue? [duplicate]

Randall Monroe, a credible source in my opinion, says that the sky is blue because the air is: Normal light interacts with the atmosphere through Rayleigh scattering. You may have heard of ...
3
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1answer
27 views

In the Holometer experiment, why would one of the split laser beams arriving back at a slightly different time indicate the universe was quantized?

All the pop-sci articles I've read have a description of the set-up similar to this: It uses a pair of laser interferometers placed close to one another, each sending a one-kilowatt beam of light ...
1
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0answers
19 views

Why is a rainbow in the sky always an arch? [duplicate]

It's been raining a lot lately in the bay area of California (thankfully! keep it coming rain gods!) which puts me and my dad in a contemplative mood. The rain has given us something to contemplate: ...
1
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0answers
19 views

How to introduce symmetry of particles to a layperson? [closed]

I want to introduce the concept of special unitary symmetry and how it is important in particle physics to a layperson. Without being technical, is there a way to explain the fundamental concept?
1
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0answers
28 views

Is the electron of carbon identical to that of hydrogen? How to prove it? [duplicate]

I am still confused with whether, for example, the electron of carbon is exactly identical to that of hydrogen. How can the scientist confirm this?
2
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2answers
81 views

Would a person in a gravity well observe the sky as rapidly moving due to time shift?

Inspired by the movie Interstellar (2014) - I was wondering about the crew on the surface of the planet which was deep in the gravity field of the black hole (Gargantua) - if they would look up at the ...
4
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4answers
186 views

What is the way to prevent the cream from settling on the surface of hot milk with least manual labour?

I have seen Cooling a cup of coffee with help of a spoon but that question has a restriction of using only a spoon. My problem is that I have to boil the milk before pouring it in the bottle for the ...
0
votes
1answer
35 views

are GPS points versus an area?

I have a $\text{i2c}$ GPS module I got working yesterday, and here are my co-ordinates. Latitude: 44.901354999999995 Longitude: -68.97112333333333 What I am having trouble figuring out is that ...
19
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1answer
4k views

Physics behind this neutrino-related joke

In the comment section of a newspaper article reporting on the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics, which was awarded for work on neutrino oscillation, I found the following joke: "I'm sorry, we do not ...
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2answers
119 views

Why is there uncertainty in physics? [closed]

In physics, why do we come up with a theory that is unable to explain what is actually going in a phenomenon? Just we are creating a theory which explains the results and satisfies the data, does ...
0
votes
1answer
114 views

Would a pipe from the surface to the Earth's exosphere suck all atmosphere to the space? [closed]

If I built a tube from Earth's surface to the exosphere, would all the air be sucked out to space? If this pipe reached to a big planet, like Jupiter, would its gravity through the pipe suck our ...
1
vote
3answers
185 views

How is this possible that photons are absorbed?

From the lessons on QM, I got impression that there are some discrete orbitals that emit light when electron drops from one to another. Specific molecules emit light in very narrow bands, therefore. ...
2
votes
1answer
202 views

How does a tightrope walker return to equilibrium?

I do not understand how tightrope walkers return themselves to equilibrium. I am not concerned with the direction along the rope or wire where their base can be large, and they are able to move ...
0
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0answers
74 views

Is this a good explanation of electron mobility to the layman?

I'm writing an informative paper on graphene for my writing class (layman-oriented), and was describing electron mobility in very simplified terms. Let me know if anything is mistaken, badly ...
0
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0answers
13 views

How 2nd-order nonlinear optic response is used in the telecom market?

References According to this paper, 2nd order NLO response is important for telecom. According to Wikipedia, Lithium niobate is used extensively in the telecoms market, e.g. in mobile telephones ...
0
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1answer
109 views

Scientific Laws for Engineering Materials [closed]

I have a conceptual question. There is a law in science for every phenomenon in nature, like gravity or electric field. But also there are laws for springs or capacitors etc... I mean the ...
1
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3answers
145 views

Why did scientists need to invent light years?

Why did scientists need to invent light years? What's so important about having a light year? I have been learning that a light year is $9.461 \times 10^{15} \, \mathrm{m}$. My question is, why are ...
2
votes
1answer
62 views

The fly and the sphere of iron

When I was a child, I read something like the following in a book whose name I have now forgotten (I tried to find the original quote on the web, but although there are some similar passages the ...
6
votes
3answers
646 views

Why are gasses difficult to see? [duplicate]

Why are gases difficult to see?
4
votes
1answer
126 views

String Theory: Why should(n't) the string snap?

My question is related to a comment in the margin of the popularising site The Official String Theory Web Site. There are two basic types of string theories: those with closed string loops that ...
0
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1answer
2k views

Does car colour affect car temperature? [duplicate]

My family will buy a car, so to minimise the car's air conditioning and heating (and thus fuel) costs, how should we choose a car exterior's colour and the interior's colour and material (eg fabric ...
0
votes
1answer
62 views

Can rotational motion can be reduced to translational motion?

Susskind says that all physics (dynamics of the world) can be described in terms of particle positions and their first order derivatives. Does such translational motion gives rise to rotation?
0
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3answers
341 views

How much does the Earth's population affect the force of gravity? [duplicate]

If everyone on earth except one person were to gather up in one location, say the North Pole, and jump at the exact same time and stay airborne for about 1.5 sec. And that one person who did not jump ...
34
votes
2answers
9k views

What are Stephen Hawking's main contributions to research-level physics?

Without a doubt, Stephen Hawking is the most famous living scientist; indeed, his public visibility in all of history seems to be rivaled only by Einstein and easily eclipses giants of physics such as ...
15
votes
1answer
840 views

Which hemisphere am I on?

Inspired by this answer to a question on Puzzling.SE (which contains the old but wrong idea that the Coriolis force determines the direction in which a bathroom vortex rotates, and also an approach ...
3
votes
2answers
172 views

Food calories vs gravitational potential energy [closed]

Imagine you could use all of the energy you have ever extracted from your food as a source of propulsion. Is the energy contained in the food you’ve eaten over the course of your lifetime enough to ...
1
vote
0answers
90 views

A model that predicts the universe is finite in space and time

A physics professor talked in the YouTube video Cosmological Constant & The End of the Universe - Sixty Symbols about a paper he and his colleagues published. The paper presents a model that ties ...
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0answers
34 views

What forces are involved to enable a rock to skip in water?

Does the surface tension matter or is it something else that is providing the upward force? Can someone explain the phenomenon to me physically?
30
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4answers
9k views

Blowing your own sail?

How it this possible? Even if the gif is fake, the Mythbusters did it and with a large sail it really moves forward. What is the explanation?
2
votes
2answers
125 views

Scientists observe the laws of the physics but, Where do they come from? [closed]

Has anyone ever considered how the laws of physics that we study came into being.
2
votes
1answer
96 views

Why aren't train headlights brighter? [closed]

I suspect a valid scientific, physics answer for this question, because I'd venture that train, insurance companies would've calculated and contemplated this question. Yet the train headlights at ...
66
votes
5answers
8k views

How literally should you take “The Higgs boson gives other particles mass”?

A standard phrase in popular discussions of the Higgs boson is that "it gives particles mass". To what extent is this a reasonable, pop-science, level of description of the Higgs boson and it's ...
5
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1answer
2k views

How could we travel to the nearest supermassive Black hole?

I have just watched a trailer for the upcoming movie Interstellar and started to wonder about some physics involved. In the end of the trailer, they are obviously plunging into a Black hole hoping to ...
2
votes
1answer
124 views

Are these guard rails truly strong enough?

I'm lay about physics, but I'd like to learn about it behind this question. A friend criticises and claims that the single strip of traffic barriers (as shown below) would fail and is useless. For ...
2
votes
0answers
115 views

Are the elements of physics different on the upper deck, of a double-decker bus, than those on the lower deck? [closed]

In this question, I hypothesise an event that affects the entire bus; I'm not asking about menace unique to upper floor passengers, such as an overly high upper floor or hanging objects (because this ...
2
votes
1answer
148 views

Does the Night Mode of the screen display (LCD) save more energy?

In some cases, we can enable the Night Mode (reversing the bright and dark color of the display; such as White Text, Black Background) for the screen display. LCD(Liquid-crystal display) seems to be ...
4
votes
1answer
110 views

Quantum field theory defines its own bounds of applicability

I recall hearing in a lecture something along the following lines: "Due to some intrinsic feature of quantum field theory in general (or maybe it was the standard model?), we know where it is ...
0
votes
1answer
56 views

Does the ground beneath a levitating object change due to the rotation of the earth? [duplicate]

I don't know whether this question pertains to physics. But anyways, here goes... If I were to hover 1m above the ground in a helicopter, would the ground below me change after 1 hr due to the ...
3
votes
1answer
233 views

Difference between horizon and flatness problems & how inflation solves flatness (w/out math)

Layman here so I'm hoping for an answer for my query that doesn't involve math. I'm reading about inflation and how it solves the flatness and horizon problems. I get that the horizon problem deals ...
3
votes
1answer
333 views

Does decreasing the length of the line between a harness and zip wire increase the velocity at which you travel?

My friend is an instructor at an outdoor adventure centre which has lots of zip wires. The instructor's harness has a shorter line that attaches to the zip wire than the normal harness does and she ...
1
vote
1answer
303 views

So physicist's really do think the Universe could be a holographic Illusion?

http://www.nature.com/news/simulations-back-up-theory-that-universe-is-a-hologram-1.14328 http://guardianlv.com/2013/12/compelling-evidence-says-our-universe-is-a-hologram/ I thought the holographic ...
3
votes
4answers
148 views

Coherence effect on collecting sun light by mirrors

There are systems that collect sun light in one spot. I wonder, why does it accumulate additively, without destructive interference?
-1
votes
1answer
150 views

What is the physics concept in sponge filter

I really need help I want to ask what is the physics concept in Sponge Filter?
2
votes
2answers
860 views

Behaviour of duvet covers in washing machines

When you put a duvet cover in a washing machine without buttoning it up any other items of bedding (e.g. pillow cases) inevitably end up inside it. Instinctively, I would think that the opposite would ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Is a real life electric shield possible? [closed]

I got this question from playing games like Halo and Borderlands (I know kinda dumb but raised a good question) in which the primary protection is an electric shield. Now I'm wondering if it would be ...
0
votes
0answers
91 views

Is that true that neutron activity on Earth in 2013 is unusual?

I have just read curious statement on this website: http://www.trinitas.ru/rus/doc/0016/001d/00162241.htm (unfortunately this is in Russian, but I will try to translate) "В заключение можно отметить, ...
5
votes
2answers
423 views

Better explanation of the common general relativity illustration (stretched sheet of fabric)

I've seen many science popularisation documentaries and read few books (obviously not being scientist myself). I am able to process and understand basic ideas behind most of these. However for general ...