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.

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6
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3answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
9answers
3k views

What are the most important discoveries/breakthroughs in physics recently?

Can you provide a list of the most important discoveries/breakthroughs in physics recently? By recent, I mean the past decade or so. All branches of physics are welcome. Basically, I am interested in ...
7
votes
4answers
899 views

Church-Turing hypothesis as a fundamental law of physics

The Church-Turing hypothesis says one can not build a computing device which has more computing power (in terms of computability) than the abstract model of Turing machine. So, there is something in ...
5
votes
4answers
1k 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?
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Equation of everything

Is this equation in the image true? Can you give some topics that I can cover the equation? Similar equation from http://www.preposterousuniverse.com:
11
votes
4answers
606 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Is classical electromagnetism a dead research field?

Is classical electromagnetism a dead research field? Are there any phenomena within classical electromagnetism that we have no explanation for?
5
votes
5answers
2k views

Do perfect spheres exist in nature?

Often in physics, Objects are approximated as spherical. However do any perfectly spherical objects actually exist in nature?
4
votes
3answers
499 views

How to tell whether a physics theory is beautiful?

A lot of physicists would have agreed that General Relativity is a beautiful theory. My question is that, what really makes a physics theory beautiful? Is there any criteria that a theory must ...
2
votes
1answer
609 views

What is the pressure at the top of a sealed tube being drawn out of water?

Is the atmospheric pressure in a closed container the same as that of the surroundings (1 bar at sea level)? Consider a tube with both ends open with one end dipped into water (like a pipette in ...
2
votes
4answers
249 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
270 views

Are there any good audio recordings of educational physics material?

I am studying to return to school in physics and would like to start spending as much time as possible on that task. Most of my small amount of free time, however, I am either doing house work or ...
21
votes
11answers
5k views

Books that develop interest & critical thinking among high school students

I heard about Yakov Perelman and his books. I just finished reading his two volumes of Physics for Entertainment. What a delightful read! What a splendid author. This is the exact book I've been ...
19
votes
6answers
4k views

Where should a physicist go to learn chemistry?

I took an introductory chemistry course long ago, but the rules seemed arbitrary, and I've forgotten most of what I learned. Now that I have an undergraduate education in physics, I should be able to ...
19
votes
6answers
10k 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 ...
14
votes
7answers
11k views

What does it take to understand Maxwell's equations?

Assume I want to learn math and physics enough to reach a level where I understand Maxwell's equations (The terms and reasoning in the equations I.e. why they "work"). What would I have to learn in ...
14
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
454 views

Understanding Cherns-Simons-Witten Theory

I want to read about Wittens work, on Cherns-Simons theory, and relations to knots and jones polynomials. I am extremely motivated to read his paper: Quantum Field Theory and Jones polynomial. What ...
14
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
9k 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
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. Transcription: ...
15
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
230 views

What strategies can a researcher use when confronted with a long and complicated symbolic expression?

When doing research in theoretical physics, a frequent task one encounters is trying to express some physical quantity as a function of other quantities. A lot of times this can't be done ...
21
votes
4answers
3k views

If the LHC-calculated mass of the Higgs is wrong, how long will it take to determine this with confidence? [closed]

After I watched "Particle Fever"--the movie about Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and the successful identification of the Higgs boson--I became a bit concerned with that team's handling of various ...
7
votes
3answers
404 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
483 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
303 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
272 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. ...
3
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
820 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
2k 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: ...
8
votes
5answers
776 views

How would I go about detecting monopoles?

A question needed for a "solid" sci-fi author: How to detect a strong magnetic monopole? (yes, I know no such thing is to be found on Earth). Think of basic construction details, principles of ...
1
vote
3answers
640 views

Prerequisites for classical mechanics by Susskind

So I am an undergraduate in Electrical Engineering. We had a course on Physics in our freshman year which is equivalent to Classical Mechanics I as taught in MIT. I am interested in studying advanced ...
12
votes
4answers
930 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 ...
8
votes
7answers
10k views

Can a scientific theory ever be absolutely proven?

I personally cringe when people talk about scientific theories in the same way we talk about everyday theories. I was under the impression a scientific theory is similar to a mathematical proof; ...
5
votes
1answer
451 views

How and why will the Milky way collide with the Andromeda?

Hubble's law says that the universe is expanding.How come the milky way and the andromeda are on a collision course?How will they end up colliding with each other?
3
votes
3answers
391 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
3answers
2k 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
4answers
443 views

Two soft questions about spin and the particle nature of electrons

How can we define spin as the spin of an electron around it's own axis if an electron is described by a probability cloud of finding an electron in a point in space? How does that probability cloud ...
2
votes
2answers
3k 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
4k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
458 views

Does “finite” include zero?

Infinity, is clearly not finite. But there is some dissent on whether or not zero is finite. I have seen authors use "finite" to indicate the value of $0$ is excluded as well as infinity. Is there ...
4
votes
1answer
242 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
2answers
205 views

Mathematics needed for string theory [duplicate]

I'm interested in cutting edge string theory studied by research physicist. I'm wonder what mathematics is needed and how far am I in terms of mathematics background needed and how much more ...
2
votes
0answers
287 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
225 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
1answer
250 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
895 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
472 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
82 views

Should theory be the appropriate term? [duplicate]

Should theory be the appropriate term? I mean, for example, because of the quantum field theory we have been able to find the subatomic particles that it theorized and make the Standard Model. Why ...