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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62
votes
8answers
7k 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 ...
67
votes
8answers
7k 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 ...
11
votes
9answers
6k 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
8k views

How does the Higgs mechanism work?

I'm not a particle physicist, but I did manage to get through the Feynman lectures without getting too lost. Is there a way to explain how the Higgs field works, in a way that people like me might ...
10
votes
5answers
3k views

Did spacetime start with the Big bang?

Did spacetime start with the Big Bang? I mean, was there any presence of this spacetime we are experiencing now before big bang? And could there be a presence/existence of any other space-time before ...
-5
votes
7answers
3k views

Does Quantum Physics really suggests this universe as a computer simulation? [closed]

I was reading about interesting article here which suggests that our universe is a big computer simulation and the proof of it is a Quantum Physics. I know quantum physics tries to provide some ...
420
votes
22answers
161k 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 ...
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 ...
12
votes
8answers
4k 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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
6answers
7k views

How can something happen when time does not exist?

I saw this documentary hosted by Stephen Hawkins. And if I didn't get it wrong, it says that there was no time before the big bang, time was created there. So how can anything happen when there is ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

Vortex in liquid collects particles in center

At xmas, I had a cup of tea with some debris at the bottom from the leaves. With less than an inch of tea left, I'd shake the cup to get a little vortex going, then stop shaking and watch it spin. ...
6
votes
3answers
518 views

Why (in relatively non-technical terms) are Calabi-Yau manifolds favored for compactified dimensions in string theory?

I was hoping for an answer in general terms avoiding things like holonomy, Chern classes, Kahler manifolds, fibre bundles and terms of similar ilk. Simply, what are the compelling reasons for ...
1
vote
3answers
834 views

Whats left at the center of the Universe after Big bang?

If you consider big bang. According to that What's left at the center of universe where the Big bang occured?
22
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
556 views

Is there an intuitive way of thinking about the extra dimensions in M-Theory?

Why are 11 dimensions needed in M-Theory? The four I know (three spatial ones plus time) have an intuitive meaning in everyday life. How can I think of the other seven? What is their nature (spatial, ...
7
votes
1answer
407 views

Antimatter Propulsion System

Is there a possibility ( in theory ) to build a antimatter propulsion system, if so how can we control the collision of matter-anitmatter, will humans be able to control this force just like ...
4
votes
1answer
737 views

Negative Energy and Wormholes

Apparently to create wormholes you need negative energy/matter. Say you had negative matter/energy, how would it be applied towards making a wormhole?
21
votes
8answers
3k views

Why is there a size limitation on animals?

Why is there a size limitation on human/animal growth? Assuming the technology exists for man to grow to 200 feet high, it's pretty much a given that the stress on the skeletal structure and joints ...
27
votes
4answers
7k 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?
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Popular books on QM

After some discussions with my friend about some "popular" aspects of quantum mechanics, my friend asked me whether there exist any books that could convey the basic ideas in a non-technical way (my ...
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.
30
votes
2answers
976 views

What forces are at work causing sand to migrate to the centre of a spinning bucket of water? [duplicate]

A bucket is filled with water and a handful of sand. The water is then spun. Why and what forces are in play which cause the sand particles to congregate in the centre of the bucket?
10
votes
4answers
919 views

Lay explanation of the special theory of relativity? [closed]

What is Einstein's theory of Special relativity, in terms a lay person can follow?
1
vote
4answers
1k views

Could all strings be one single string which weaves the fabric of the universe?

This question popped out of another discussion, about if the photon needs a receiver to exist. Can a photon get emitted without a receiver? A universe containing only one electron was hypothetically ...
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
2answers
588 views

How is it possible to come to a conclusion that Universe is a result of the Big Bang while we aren't able to observe the entire Universe?

-I'm not a religious person so this is not a denial. I'm just trying to understand the most fundamental topic about Universe. -I know the Big Bang cosmological model is not a law but it's a theory. ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

If I move a long solid stick can I send message fastest than light? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it possible for information to be transmitted faster than light? I mean by using a perfect solid stick long enough and moving it forward and backward can I send ...
63
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 ...
14
votes
4answers
21k views

On a hot day, when it's cooler outside than in; is it better to put a fan in an open window pointing inwards or outwards?

If it's really hot inside, but cooler outside; what is the best way to place a single fan to try and cool a room down? I always assumed it would be better pointing inwards (and this thread suggests ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Physical laws prior the big bang (quantum fluctuations)

A theory among scientists says that quantum fluctuations caused the big bang and created the universe. This seems plausible to me. What I can't grasp yet is how a quantum fluctuation can even start ...
8
votes
2answers
880 views

Can someone explain how water from a garden hose can propagate in a sine/cosine wave?

A video posted on Youtube. How does this phenomenon work? I know he is using frequency to propagate water in a sine/cosine wave, but how does it exactly work this way? Why do we see it as if its ...
8
votes
4answers
397 views

Direct exposure to the vacuum of space

I was watching a few sci-fi movies and was wondering the real science explaining what would happen if you were to be subject to the conditions of outerspace. I read the wikipedia article on space ...
5
votes
2answers
670 views

Big bang and time

I heard Carl Sagan talking about the Universe 15 Billion years ago, and the Big Bang. He made the statement that it was the biggest explosion of all time (at first I thought this a subtle pun). This ...
3
votes
1answer
208 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
3answers
371 views

Would a sea level rise (on the other side of the Earth) if you would dip your finger into the ocean?

(I'm not a physicist & I hope this question isn't too basic/lame) The question says it all & assuming: No atmosphere No Earth rotation Not a single object in the ocean(s) Ignore all other ...
-2
votes
6answers
313 views

What can $E=mc^2$ do? [closed]

In the famous equation $E=mc^2$, the variables stand for: $E$ is energy, $m$ is mass, and $c$ is the speed of light (in vacuum). And I understand the equation fairly but limited in knowing in ...
8
votes
3answers
135 views

What's dark matter and who discovered it?

I have heard about dark matter that's called the Master Of The Universe. What's this and is the dark matter the reason galaxies exist?
8
votes
3answers
390 views

Does MOND make good predictions?

Well, it does according to this preprint for certain scales. What would be a simple way to explain MOND to a layman? Does it ignore mainstream physics? How much?
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 ...
0
votes
1answer
4k views

How does gravity effects both time and light if they have no mass [duplicate]

I've been reading about how black holes can effect both time and light with gravity. So I was wondering, doesn't something have to have mass to be effected by gravity? And if so, does this mean both ...
0
votes
1answer
512 views

Does the Big Bang need a cause? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: on causality and The Big Bang Theory Asking here in layman's terms.. When theoretical physicsists discuss the origin of our Universe, the wider consensus appears to be ...
148
votes
3answers
42k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

QM and Renormalization (layman)

I was reading Michio Kaku's Beyond Einstein. In it, I think, he explains that when physicsts treat a particle as a geometric point they end up with infinity when calculating the strength of the ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

String Theory and Standard Model in CERN

I don't know how to say it, but in the TV dominatrices and the popular science books we see the string theory as "the best theory to explain everything", and as "the only game in town"... etc. And ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Is space infinitely divisible?

As a child I remember hearing the popular paradox presented by Zeno proposing that Achilles could never catch a tortoise in a race since he would have to traverse the infinite space between himself ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

Does a magnetically suspended frog feel weightless?

Magnetic levitation has been used to suspend frogs in midair. I was wondering: Does the animal still feel gravitational pull? I mean: Does the frog feel like an astronaut on the ISS, or does he feel ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Please recommend a good book about physics for young child (elementary school aged) [closed]

I'm looking for a book that would be appropriate for an advanced elementary school aged kids (say, 6-11 YO) describing the basics of physics (or sciences in general) in entertaining way. The ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How do I develop an intuitive model of spacetime?

I am your nightmare poster - a layman trying to learn special relativity. (I'm also a refugee from stackoverflow.com: trust me, it's only going to get worse). Apologies in advance if my question is ...
16
votes
6answers
1k views

How to argue that time travel to past would not be possible even in future?

I am a science fiction writer. I know how to time travel to the future (using black hole or speed). But I need to argue in my novel that time travel to the past might not be possible. Is there a way ...