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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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 ...
15
votes
3answers
4k views

PhD Research Areas in String Theory [closed]

I'm thinking of applying to do a PhD in String Theory, starting in September 2013. I'm gradually learning more about the subject through external reading, but still most papers are impenetrable! Could ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Meaning of an image on Feynman's shirt

Is there any physical meaning of the image on Feynman's T-shirt?
15
votes
2answers
349 views

Searching books and papers with equations

Sometimes I may come up with an equation in mind, so I want to search for the related material. It may be the case that I learn it before but forget the name, or, there is no name for the equation yet....
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 ...
14
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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?
13
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11answers
8k views

Books that every layman should read [closed]

To add to Books that every physicist should read: A list of popular physics books for people who aren't necessarily interested in technical physics. (see also Book recommendations)
13
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5answers
2k views

Do Category Theory and/or Quantum Logic add value in physics?

I know they have their adherents, but do more or less esoteric branches of mathematics such as Category Theory and/or Quantum Logic provide powerful tools for new theory development or are they just ...
13
votes
6answers
754 views

What is an effective way to search for post-doc positions in physics?

I am a graduate student in experimental physics, currently writing up my dissertation and beginning to apply to post-doc positions. While it is very easy to find out about open positions in my ...
13
votes
8answers
15k views

Which Mechanics book is the best for beginner in math major?

I'm a bachelor student majoring in math, and pretty interested in physics. I would like a book to study for classical mechanics, that will prepare me to work through Goldstein's Classical Mechanics. ...
13
votes
2answers
307 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
820 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 ...
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?
13
votes
1answer
2k views

What came first, Rice Crispy or “Snap,” “Crackle,” and “Pop”? [closed]

The fourth, fifth, and sixth derivatives of position are called "Snap" "Crackle" and "Pop". What came first, the rice crispy characters, or the physics units?
13
votes
1answer
526 views

Reference Request: Classical Mechanics with Symplectic Reduction

I am trying to find a supplement to appendix of Cushman & Bates' book on Global aspects of Classical Integrable Systems, that is less terse and explains mechanics with Lie groups (with dual of Lie ...
12
votes
3answers
20k views

Is time a Scalar or a Vector?

In Wikipedia it's said that time is a scalar quantity. But its hard to understand that how? As stated that we consider only the magnitude of time then its a scalar. But on basis of time we define ...
12
votes
9answers
1k views

Why beauty is a good guide in physics? [closed]

Dirac once said that he was mainly guided by mathematical beauty more than anything else in his discovery of the famous Dirac equation. Most of the deepest equations of physics are also the most ...
12
votes
3answers
5k views

Is it possible to kill a human with a powerful magnet?

I'm asking in terms of physics. Can powerful magnetic induction rearrange spins of my body in such way I will die? How? Or maybe it can rip all iron from me, which would make my blood cells useless? ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

How should a theoretical physicist study maths? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How should a physics student study mathematics? If some-one wants to do research in string theory for example, Would the Nakahara Topology, geometry and physics book and ...
12
votes
4answers
5k views

What happens when we cut objects?

What is the role of the molecular bonds in the process of cutting something? What is the role of the Pauli exclusion principle, responsible for the "hardness" of matter? Moreover, is all the energy ...
12
votes
9answers
982 views

What objective criteria distinguish between valid science, fringe science and pseudoscience in physics?

Plenty of research activity in physics have been vigorously opposed by their opponents as pseudoscience or fringe science, while other research are mainstream. It is possible some topic is ...
12
votes
4answers
942 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
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 ...
11
votes
5answers
6k views

How useful is programming in physics? [closed]

I have been wondering recently how useful programming is to a physicist. It seems fairly useful (simulations are a lot cheaper than the actual thing in many cases) in some areas (say space programs), ...
11
votes
7answers
2k views

Is physics rigorous in the mathematical sense?

I am a student studying Mathematics with no prior knowledge of Physics whatsoever except for very simple equations. I would like to ask, due to my experience with Mathematics: Is there a set of ...
11
votes
7answers
36k 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.
11
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15answers
455 views

How to pour water from a bottle as fast as possible

When one pours water out of a bottle, it first flows smoothly but then a pressure 'blockage' develops and the pouring becomes interrupted and turbulent, so that the water comes out in splashes. This ...
11
votes
2answers
130 views

Who should I contact if I see an unknown object in the sky?

Who should I contact if I see an unknown object in the sky? Should I contact the nearest observatory? Or is there some official place run by, say, NASA or ESA that take in observations in their ...
11
votes
2answers
526 views

Old Russian Physics Papers?

Where can one find old Russian scientific papers in physics, say, in the Proceedings of the Russian Academy of Sciences or Zhurnal Eksperimentalnoy i Teoreticheskoy Fiziki? Can they be found online ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

How are physics and computer science getting united? [closed]

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 ...
11
votes
4answers
619 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 ...
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,...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

How to convert a FITS file to .xls Excel file?

We are trying to determine the isophots in elliptical galaxies in order to check De-Vaucouleurs law. To do so, we want to convert the data from a FITS file to Excel and analyze it using Excel math ...
11
votes
3answers
264 views

$1.7\cdot 10^{-24}$ mole apples a day

As the title suggests I was wondering why the International Bureau of Weights and Measures decided a mole to be a standard (SI-)unit. After some research I found I was not alone with this problem. ...
11
votes
3answers
7k views

Why metric system uses kilogram as a basic SI unit?

SI system uses all (that I know) measurement basic units as 1 (single) instance: meter, second, ampere, etc, except the KILOgram. It already defined with 1000 multiplier (kilo). It prevents from ...
11
votes
2answers
460 views

Are derivations of physical laws less important than the laws themselves? [closed]

The proportionality between the kinetic energy of gas molecules and temperature is a well-known result. This is usually shown by considering a cubical box containing an ideal gas, and postulating that ...
10
votes
6answers
5k views

Linear Algebra for Quantum Physics

A week ago I asked people on this site what mathematical background was needed for understanding Quantum Physics, and most of you mentioned Linear Algebra, so I decided to conduct a self-study of ...
10
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
10
votes
7answers
635 views

Why are the physical sciences described perfectly by mathematics?

Why are the physical sciences described perfectly by mathematics?
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does the lake surface appear darker in some areas?

What causes the surface of the lake to appear darker in some places? Firstly, I know that it's not fishes that cause it. Secondly, the dark surfaces move from time to time and thus are not ...
10
votes
4answers
5k views

Reading Paul Dirac's “Principles of Quantum Mechanics”

I have a similair question to the question here, but regarding a different book. "Principles of Quantum Mechanics" is a 1930 work by British Nobel laureate Paul Dirac. The wikipedia article on this ...
9
votes
5answers
4k views

Graduate School for Theoretical Physics [closed]

First off, let me just say that I am unsure if this question is appropriate for this site, and if the community deems it necessary, the question should be closed. So right now I am a fourth year ...
9
votes
3answers
304 views

Why is the $dx$ right next to the integral sign in QFT literature?

I've noticed that in QFT literature, integrals are usually written as $\int \!dx ~f(x)$ instead of $\int f(x) dx$. Why?
9
votes
5answers
440 views

Where do theta functions and canonical Green functions appear in physics

In the beginning of Section 5 in his article, Wentworth mentions a result of Bost and proves it using the spin-1 bosonization formula. This result provides a link between theta functions, canonical ...
9
votes
4answers
4k views

Help an aspiring physicists what to self-study [closed]

This is probably not the kind of question you'll often encounter on this forum, but I think a bit of background is needed for this question to make sense and not seem like a duplicate: 2012 has been ...
9
votes
1answer
372 views

Has a human ever perished in space?

Apollo 13 returned safely. The Challenger was leaving when it exploded. The Columbia was coming back when it burned up, as was that Russian guy who was profiled on National Public Radio (NPR) and that ...
9
votes
3answers
169 views

What do the various journals and publications bodies offer for their subscriptions? [closed]

I would like to abide by the site policies on not asking open-ended/chatty questions so if someone feels there is a better location or wording for this question, please feel free to modify it as ...
9
votes
4answers
3k views

Why is the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics the most widely accepted one?

I've been digging a lot into quantum physics in the last few weeks. I didn't care much about the maths, just about what empirically happens to get a conceptual idea about quantum phenomena. The most ...
9
votes
4answers
3k views

How does the research in theoretical physics differ from mathematics

I would like to know what is the difference between research in theoretical physics and pure mathematics. In particular, what does a theoretical physicist actually do all day long for his research? In ...