Questions that ask about some aspect of physics research or study which doesn't involve the actual physics. In general, soft questions can be answered without using physical reasoning.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

14
votes
8answers
1k views

Is it possible to work on physics independently outside academia?

The traditional physics career is an academic job at some university, with the eventual goal of becoming a tenured professor. Is it possible for a mostly self-educated outsider working outside ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

What does Peter Parkers formula represent?

Okay, so the trailer for the new Spider Man movie is out and appearently our friendly physicist from the neightborhood came up with something. However I can't find out what this is. ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

What math do I need for mathematical physics? In what manner should I learn math? [closed]

I'm a freshman undergraduate. I've got my sight on mathematical physics. I love math but I don't have the talent nor the inclination for purely abstract mathematics. I also love physics. The only ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

Best physics olympiad resources [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Book recommendations I am looking for good book recommendations at the level of high-school physics. I am having in mind to find out as to what are the typical books ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

What are the best open-access journals in physics?

I would like to support open-access journals by choosing to publish in journals which allow readers free online access. Ideally I would also like to retain copyright instead of signing it over to ...
12
votes
17answers
3k views

Can pure maths create new theories in physics or does the “idea” ALWAYS come before the math?

I am in a debate with a friend about the value of string theory in physics. He is concerned that we are wasting valuable intellectual and financial resources on a path that is fanciful and can't ever ...
11
votes
3answers
827 views

Mathematical Physics Book Recommendation [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Best books for mathematical background? I want to learn contemporary mathematical physics, so that, for example, I can read Witten's latest paper without checking other ...
5
votes
4answers
569 views

Entropy as an arrow of time

From what I understand, entropy is a concept defined by the experimentalist due to his ignorance of the exact microstate of a system. To say the number of accessible microstates $W$ of the universe is ...
8
votes
3answers
355 views

Supersymmetry in Quantum Mechanics

I was reading Supersymmetry in Quantum Mechanics and got stuck in the various mathematical terminology like "Graded-Lie Algebra", "Super Algebra". Is there any good lecture notes concerning these ...
13
votes
3answers
287 views

Can a web community write papers? [closed]

the internet has changed science drastically. Not only in terms of distributing knowledge e.g. via online encyclopedias as wikipedia and freely available sources of publications as arXiv but also as a ...
12
votes
10answers
2k views

Physics the Why vs. How question?

I've been told that a physicist never asks why and must always ask how. Is this true? Have all discoveries in physics been due to asking how? or have some been discovered by asking why?
4
votes
1answer
212 views

Is there a theory which treats particles as classical point singularities?

Is there a published theory that looks at all matter as occupying no space and only being felt because of its gravitational pull? We've been taught in school that matter has mass and occupies space. ...
1
vote
2answers
447 views

What is a good introductory text to astronomy [closed]

What is a good and easy to read introductory text for an adult with limited basic scientific knowledge to astronomy for someone without a telescope and lives in a big city and why do you think that ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Classical Mechanics for Mathematician [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which Mechanics book is the best for beginner in math major? I am looking for suitable ways to learn mechanics in mathematician's perspective. I went through: ...
10
votes
4answers
509 views

What is an interpretation of quantum mechanics?

In the sense of "Copenhagen Interpretation", what exactly is an interpretation? What purpose does an interpretation serve? Can an interpretation be tested or even be correct or incorrect independent ...
3
votes
3answers
352 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
705 views

Need for a side book for E.Soper`s Classical Theory Of Fields.

I am reading now E Soper Classical Theory Of Fields now and sometimes it is very hard to follow the equations.So I need a side book to read it comfortably.Landau`s book is not helping as its content ...
3
votes
3answers
659 views

Textbook on group theory to be able to start QFT

I am very enthusiastic about learning QFT. How much group theory would I need to master? Please could you recommend me a textbook on group theory, which would help me to start QFT?
3
votes
3answers
1k views

A professional physics career without a degree?

I learned programming as a child, for fun. Now I am working as a programmer, even though I got a business major degree. I wonder if there are career paths for doing physics other than becoming a ...
2
votes
2answers
99 views

Differences between astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology? [closed]

What is the main difference between Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Cosmology? I have the impression that astronomy is a subject that runs parallel to physics but it is outside the physics field. This ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Quantum phyics project for a high schooler [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Study Quantum Physics I am a high schooler who is interested in physics and mathematics, and I have a kind of 'high-school thesis' coming up in a year and a half or so. ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

What math is needed to understand the Schrödinger equation?

If I now see the Schrödinger equation, I just see a bunch of weird symbols, but I want to know what it actually means. So I'm taking a course of Linear Algebra and I'm planning on starting with PDE's ...
12
votes
4answers
865 views

What does it mean to say that the electron is a near-perfect sphere?

It's announced that researchers at Imperial College London has found that the electron is almost a perfect sphere. The popular articles all have a nice photo of a billiard ball, etc. It is reported ...
4
votes
1answer
731 views

What is the meaning of this “let there be light” joke?

A middle school teacher across the restaurant is wearing this shirt, and I certainly don't get it.
3
votes
1answer
108 views

Why is a dipole moment called a dipole moment?

The General Formula for a moment is the following one: $$ \vec{M} = \vec{r} \times \vec{F}. $$ However the formula for a dipole moment is this one: $$ \vec{p} = Q \vec{d}. $$ How comes this is still ...
2
votes
0answers
140 views

Mathematical Prerequisites for QFT [closed]

I am curious about which areas of mathematics one should be comfortable with before learning QFT. I am familiar with the "learn-it-as-you-go" approach often advocated in physics, but would like to ...
2
votes
2answers
134 views

Why “Dark Energy” is called energy instead of force?

The overly simplified explanation I'm giving myself right now is dark energy causes the opposite of what gravity does, that's why the universe is expanding. Now where gravity is a force, why dark ...
2
votes
4answers
206 views

Expansion of the universe and strain

From cosmological models that involve expansion of the universe, can we not say that there are ever increasing tidal forces felt by solid bodies? If so, the material in solid bodies like metal ...
2
votes
1answer
128 views

Physical structures that trap information

I labeled this question "soft" because it might not make any sense. Anyway, what I'm wondering is if there's a notion in physics that deals with the ability of matter to trap information. For ...
2
votes
2answers
685 views

Naive question on quantum mechanics and uncertainty principle

This is a follow up on this question, the answer of which points towards Quantum Mechanics. As stated I am not a phycisist so please forgive my ignorance. I will try to understand the issue by going ...
2
votes
4answers
430 views

Laws of Atomic Theory - how is this possible? [duplicate]

Not sure if this is the right place to post, but how is it possible to have laws of a theory? A theory is not able to be a law, since it's just an explanation that can always be disproven. So how is ...
1
vote
1answer
6k views

Negative and positive energy and Hawking [closed]

I don't have any physics background (except the material we did in high school-long time ago). I was watching a documentary with Stephen Hawking about whether God created the Universe and I could not ...
0
votes
1answer
112 views

Is everything in the physical world composite?

In philosophy there is a principle that anything composite cannot have existed eternally, since it is preceded by its parts and whatever forces assembled it. Is everything in the physical world ...
0
votes
3answers
973 views

What sort of jobs do physics graduates with B.Sc/M.Sc get? [closed]

I've been told that in countries like Israel the truth of the matter is that the only available work for B.Sc./M.Sc. in physics/math is only to be high school teacher. To do serious stuff you need to ...
31
votes
24answers
2k views

Your favorite Physics/Astrophysics blogs? [closed]

What are the Physics/Astrophysics blogs you regularly read? I'm looking to beef up my RSS feeds to catch up with during my long commutes. I'd like to discover lesser-known gems (e.g. not well known ...
12
votes
10answers
4k views

Theoretical Physics - How to?

Although I doubt somewhat whether this question is really appropriate for this site, I hope it gets answered anyways. I guess, what I'm wondering is: How does one get to work as a theoretical ...
39
votes
1answer
2k views

What happened to David John Candlin?

This is an ultra-soft question about relatively recent history. While reading some of Mandelstam's papers, I noticed that he cites David John Candlin consistenly whenever he does anything with ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a physics Puzzles site like Project Euler?

I am looking for a site that publishing riddles and problems such as Project Euler publishes problems in computer science. Is there any similar site that is hardcore in the area of physics? This ...
22
votes
6answers
3k views

Are there two theories that are mathematically identical but ontologically different?

I have no background in physics but there is a question that has been bothering me, so I'm asking you. Are there at least 2 physical theories that are : Mathematically identical, which means that ...
9
votes
7answers
3k views

What are the most important papers in physics? [closed]

Recently I got the book "On the Shoulders of Giant" from Stephen Hawkings. It consists of more than 1000 pages of classical publications in physics. However 900 pages are given to the work of ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are they called “cyclic” coordinates?

In Lagrangian formalism, when $\frac{\partial L}{\partial q} = 0$, the coordinate $q$ is called cyclic and a corresponding conserved quantity exists. But why is it called cyclic?
19
votes
5answers
2k views

What do theoretical physicists need from computer scientists?

I recently co-authored a paper (not online yet unfortunately) with some chemists that essentially provided answers to the question, "What do chemists need from computer scientists?" This included the ...
13
votes
6answers
4k views

Difference between theoretical physics and mathematical physics?

I'm a huge fan of mathematical physics and I know what the formal definitions of those two areas are, I've seen them. But I still get completely baffled when someone asks me to explain it simply. The ...
12
votes
5answers
646 views

Online physics collaboration tools

I.e. online discussion with your friends. A forum is probably too overkill in this case. Yet so far nothing can beat direct communication. Important feature: the ability to archive discussions. We ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

How are physics and computer science getting united?

How is theoretical computer science getting united with physics? Phenomena like Quantum Computing uses Quantum Mechanics to be able to compute things, how are computers helping not just to model our ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Are we living in a false vacuum? Is there any way to tell?

I was thinking of the noted 1980 paper by Sidney Coleman and Frank de Luccia--"Gravitational effects of and on vacuum decay"-- about metastable vacuum states that could tunnel to a lower energy "true ...
6
votes
7answers
23k views

What jobs can you get after Studying Physics at University? [closed]

What types of jobs can you get after a degree in Physics? My sister is choosing her course and thinking of doing physics but isn't sure what she can do after it.
4
votes
2answers
394 views

In what order should the subjects be studied in order to get to String Theory [duplicate]

I know: Quantum Mechanics (Griffiths Level, currently doing Sakurai Level) Mechanics (Newtonian+ Lagrangian/Hamiltonian but at level lower than Goldstein/Landau) Classical Electrodynamics ...
3
votes
4answers
182 views

Is it possible to have incommensurable but equally valid theories of nature which fits all experimental data?

Is it possible to have mutually incommensurable but equally valid theories of nature which fits all experimental data? The philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend defended this seemingly outrageous ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

Why should any physicist know, to some degree, experimental physics?

I've been trying to design a list with reasons why a proper theoretical physicist should understand the methods and the difficulty of doing experimental physics. So far I've only thought of two ...