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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5
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5answers
3k 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?
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votes
4answers
836 views

Is it possible to restart formal higher education in physics at a later age? [closed]

I would begin by apologizing for a soft question. Reading the FAQ, I have tried to formulate my question precisely in the last paragraph and you may skip the following paragraph where I make ...
2
votes
0answers
377 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
4answers
262 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 blocks,...
1
vote
1answer
284 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Level of calculus required for physics [closed]

First time for me here so kindly let me know if I violate the rules - especially if this is a duplicate. After reading the page how to become a good theoretical phycist, I started a serious revision ...
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 ...
25
votes
8answers
4k views

Starting a physics Ph.D. at 60? [closed]

Decades ago I was in a physics Ph.D. program, made a hash of things, and quite rightly was dropped from the program. Since then I've had a very satisfying career as a computer programmer, and picked ...
16
votes
7answers
12k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

How to learn physics? [duplicate]

I am an engineering student (CSE) in India..But recently I have developed a strong love to physics..I want to learn physics and understand it in deep..I know physics is the search of deep fundamental ...
15
votes
17answers
4k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
472 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
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 ...
16
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: ...
11
votes
1answer
247 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 analytically,...
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
9answers
4k views

Should I begin to study quantum mechanics or wait until I have a stronger base on easier topics? [closed]

I apologize if this is off topic since it does not relate directly to the study of physics, but I could not think of a better place to ask. I am a high school student graduating in a few days and ...
7
votes
3answers
418 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
4k views

Are quantum mechanics calculations useful for engineering?

I heard it's is pretty tough to get results for more than a few quantum particles. Are quantum mechanical calculations useful at all for any technology that is being sold? Or do they use quasi-...
3
votes
2answers
9k 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
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: ...
1
vote
2answers
990 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
843 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
528 views

How to learn celestial mechanics?

I'm a PhD student in math and am really excited about celestial mechanics. I was wondering if anyone could give me a roadmap for learning this subject. The amount of information about it on the ...
1
vote
3answers
881 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
941 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
11k 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
477 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
397 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
1answer
764 views

Is it possible to take a QFT class knowing only basic quantum mechanics?

I'm in grad school and notice there are no prerequisites required for QFT in the physics department. In fact, the system allows me to sign up for the course just fine as a technical elective. But... ...
2
votes
4answers
480 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
182 views

What really is “inertial force”?

In Fluid Mechanics we often see the term inertial force when discussing Reynolds number. The problem is, I didn't really get what's this inertial force. Basically, the notion of inertia I have is that ...
7
votes
1answer
945 views

Meaning of the word “Moment”?

This question is more of a question about the origin of a physical term moment used in many contexts. My question is about the linguistic or historical meaning of the word "moment". Please don't ...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

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

Someone across the restaurant is wearing this shirt, and I certainly don't get it. Update Related: What does this quote about the four dimensional divergence of an antisymmetric tensor mean?
4
votes
1answer
492 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
960 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
476 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
277 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
2answers
297 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
1answer
299 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
9k 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
3answers
1k 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 ...
32
votes
24answers
3k 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 ...
15
votes
10answers
5k views

Theoretical Physics - How to? [closed]

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 ...
20
votes
6answers
12k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
5k 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?