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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3
votes
1answer
120 views

Moving the endpoints of a wormhole towards each other

Suppose we have a perfectly safe portal/wormhole and we place the two endpoints facing each other so that a person between them would see an endless corridor (with infinite number of herself). What ...
58
votes
8answers
6k views

Why does space expansion not expand matter?

REFORMULATED: I have looked at the other questions (ie "why does space expansion affect matter") but can't find the answer I am looking for. My question: There is always mention of space expanding ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

Can you make ice red hot?

This video clip allegedly shows an otherwise unspecified ice cube that turns red hot (and burns) due to induction heating. Can somebody explain how this works?
12
votes
8answers
3k views

Why are extra dimensions necessary?

Some theories have more than 4 dimensions of spacetime. But we only observe 4 spacetime dimensions in the real world, cf. e.g. this Phys.SE post. Why are the theories (e.g. string theory) that ...
5
votes
5answers
6k views

Is coherent light required for interference in Young's double slit experiment?

In this Veritasium video, a home experiment is presented which appears to produce a very good double-slit interference pattern with normal sunlight. The experiment is an empty cardboard box with a ...
1
vote
2answers
4k views

Is water considered a substance with low friction or high friction?

Like, for example, rubber is a substance with high friction, as an object with neither high or low friction would easily stop on it, and wouldn't skid. Ice is considered an object with low friction, ...
0
votes
0answers
10 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 ...
27
votes
4answers
6k 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?
10
votes
2answers
802 views

Movie airplanes and suction

Having watched a recent action movie (with zombies in it) I wondered whether the suction from a hole in the airplane's hull would really be able to rip out luggage, persons and even seating benches. ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

Does a car consume more fuel when it's raining?

Yesterday my wife asked me that question, and I couldn't answer. Consider a car, in a sunny day, and that is consumes x gallons per mile. Considering that everything is equal, except that it's ...
412
votes
21answers
157k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
230 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
54 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
vote
3answers
103 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
3k views

Is space “real”, or is it some sort of accepted postulate?

What is space? It seems to be everywhere in the equations of physics, as some sort of postulate or hidden hypothesis. We also have a direct experience of it, but is it "real"? The fact that we ...
2
votes
1answer
57 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 ...
65
votes
8answers
6k views

The speed of gravity?

Sorry for the layman question, but it's not my field. Suppose this thought experiment is performed. Light takes 8 minutes to go from the surface of the Sun to Earth. Imagine the Sun is suddenly ...
5
votes
2answers
227 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
487 views
11
votes
6answers
4k views

What is our location relative to the Big Bang?

Given what we know about space, time and the movement of galaxies, have we or can we determine what our position is in relation to the projected location of the Big Bang? I've read some introductory ...
4
votes
1answer
112 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
votes
1answer
293 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
199 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
46 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
votes
3answers
173 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 ...
29
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
74 views

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

A physics professor talked in a YouTube video about a paper he and his colleagues published. The paper presents a model that ties the mass of particles to the size of the universe. He summarizes their ...
14
votes
1answer
788 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
114 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 ...
42
votes
8answers
3k views

Explaining to a five year old - why don't bubbles run like water

My five-year old daughter was asking about astronauts the other day and why they float in space. After me showing her a few bits on the kids section on the NASA web site I started explaining about the ...
1
vote
0answers
29 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?
146
votes
3answers
41k views

Surviving under water in air bubble

An incredible news story today is about a man who survived for two days at the bottom of the sea (~30 m deep) in a capsized boat, in an air bubble that formed in a corner of the boat. He was ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

What has been proved about the big bang, and what has not?

Ok so the universe is in constant expansion, that has been proven, right? And that means that it was smaller in the past.. But what's the smallest size we can be sure the universe has ever had? I ...
2
votes
2answers
115 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.
62
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
90 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

In layman's terms, what is a quantum fluctuation?

What causes it and how does it occur? If you do post some mathematics, please explain what each term means too please.
6
votes
1answer
3k views

Do residents of the Hudson Bay area have more time?

Apparently there is a gravity anomaly in the Hudson Bay Area in Canada: gravity is "missing" or it is slightly less than it is in the rest of the world. Does that mean that things in the Hudson Bay ...
5
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

What could we observe if we see a 4 dimensional object and how could it change our physics view about our universe?

My question is little bit philosophical. I would like to explain my ideas with a 2 dimensional universe model. If we had lived in 2 dimensional universe like a plane, What could we observe when ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

If subatomic particles pop into existence all the time, why don't I gain weight?

Watching Discovery's first episode of the first season of Curiosity (entitled "Did God Create the Universe?" by Stephen Hawking), I heard this information: [...] you enter a world where conjuring ...
13
votes
4answers
5k views

How to explain the weak force to a layman?

I'm trying to explain in simple terms what the weak interaction does, but I'm having trouble since it doesn't resemble other forces he's familiar with and I haven't been able to come up (or find on ...
35
votes
5answers
6k views

Is it possible to have a geostationary satellite over the poles?

My understanding of orbital mechanics is very limited, but as I understand geostationary satellite, they stay in place by having an orbital speed corresponding to the spot they're orbiting over. So ...
0
votes
0answers
31 views

Required skills for a scientist [duplicate]

I wanna become a scientist, so wanna improve my skill like problem solving etc. Could you suggest me some more skills which I need to improve.
2
votes
0answers
82 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
93 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
208 views

Revisiting the microscopic concept of Touching with some more questions

This question is regarding the amazing answer given by Terry Bollinger at this Phys.SE post. I think this answer is very helpful but i do have some standing questions. He says Once the bonding ...
2
votes
1answer
100 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
97 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 ...
11
votes
8answers
5k views

Is there a proof of existence of time?

It seems to me that there is no such thing as time. There is only movement in the universe and we compare our own movement to a different object to have a sense of time. It can be a clock or a atomic ...