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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11
votes
2answers
102 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
4answers
2k 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 ...
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?
11
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
819 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
3k views

How useful is programming in physics?

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), ...
10
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 ...
10
votes
4answers
504 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
184 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. ...
9
votes
10answers
3k views

Physics for mathematicians

How and from where does a mathematician learn physics from a mathematical stand point? I am reading the book by Spivak Elementary Mechanics from a mathematicians view point. The first couple of pages ...
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 ...
9
votes
5answers
299 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
2answers
413 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 ...
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 ...
9
votes
1answer
223 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
160 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
1answer
184 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
844 views

Simple applications of group theory which can be understood by a senior undergrad

I am looking for references (books or web links) which have "simple" examples on the use of group theory in physics or science in general. I have looked at many books on the subject unfortunately ...
8
votes
5answers
3k views

Graduate School for Theoretical Physics

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 ...
8
votes
10answers
151 views

Are there websites or programmes that permit a simulation of the night sky in the past and the future on an ordinary computer?

Are there websites or programs that permit a simulation of the night sky in the past and the future on an ordinary computer? (For the past, I would be content with objects visible to the naked eye.) ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

Is 'amp' a technically invalid term?

I've been told to use the term ampere in exams and class (I'm in high school), instead of amp as it's not a valid unit, although I've been using the amp for years along with all of my friends who do ...
8
votes
4answers
13k views

What is the math knowledge necessary for starting Quantum Mechanics?

Could someone experienced in the field tell me what the minimal math knowledge one must obtain in order to grasp the introductory Quantum Mechanics book/course? I do have math knowledge but I must ...
8
votes
6answers
544 views

Why are the physical sciences described perfectly by mathematics?

Why are the physical sciences described perfectly by mathematics?
8
votes
8answers
9k 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. ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Study Quantum Physics

I'm an aspiring physicist who wants to self study some Quantum Physics. My thirst for knowledge is unquenchable and I can not wait 2 more years until I get my first quantum physics class in ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Is it Possible to Determine Radiation Levels Using Satelites?

Given recent events in Japan, this got me wondering. Is it possible to determine radiation levels reliably not having Geiger counters near the possible radiation contaminated zone? According to ...
8
votes
7answers
278 views

Are the results from models considered “data”?

At the AGU, I presented a poster on vocabulary for discussing data systems, and someone left a note at my poster stating: You have a bias here towards observational data. Need to recognize that a ...
8
votes
2answers
287 views

Who is usually credited for the creation of QFT?

I read in a book just now that says: [...] but it was not explained until the invention of quantum field theory by Richard Feynmann [sic] and others in the 1940's. I have been under the ...
8
votes
2answers
95 views

Can I use two SI prefexes

Is it ok to say $145\,{\rm k\,MPa}$ for $145\, {\rm GPa}$. We are so used to comparing stresses in ${\rm MPa}$ that I want to keep things relative to this unit. So would it be a no-no to do so.
8
votes
5answers
221 views

How to communicate institutional knowledge in a big physics collaboration?

I am a graduate student in a large experimental physics collaboration. Newcomers to the collaboration invariably complain about excessive use of jargon and insufficient documentation as barriers to ...
8
votes
3answers
353 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
489 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? ...
8
votes
5answers
612 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

Physics book for 15 year old boy [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: List of good classical physics books my name is Bruno Alano. As stated in the title, I'm 15 years old (I'll do 16 on 7 of Feb) and much love Computer Science (C, C++), ...
8
votes
2answers
373 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there a nice tool to plot graphs of paper citations? [closed]

I would like a tool which allows me to enter some paper citation, and then will begin drawing a graph, where each paper is linked to other papers that cite the original paper or are cited by it. It ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

What programming languages would be helpful for a physicist to know? [closed]

From the vantage point of a physicist and the kind of problems he would like a computer program to solve, what are the essential programming languages that a physicist should know. I know C++ and I ...
7
votes
5answers
993 views

Uses of the 'Golden Ratio' in Physics

What are some physics applications of the golden ratio? $$\varphi~=~ \frac{1+\sqrt{5}}{2}~\approx~ 1.6180339887\ldots$$ Does it ever function specifically as a constant in any formulas or theorems? ...
7
votes
9answers
3k 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
5answers
2k views

What percentage of physics PhDs leave physics? [closed]

What percentage of physics PhDs leave physics to become quantitative analysts, work in computer science/information technology or business? Is physics that bad that so many people leave? Was it worth ...
7
votes
3answers
96 views

Do days and months on the Moon have names?

On Earth we have various calendars, for example, Days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc., etc. Months: January, February, March Does the Moon have names for its "daily" rotations, etc.? It sounds ...
7
votes
2answers
14k views

How much force is in a keystroke? (estimated, of course)?

I'm a software developer, and I need to calculate the estimated amount of force expended typing stored text. Preferrably in some interesting way. (i.e. the force exerted on keys thus far is enough to ...
7
votes
4answers
636 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
412 views

A database for review literature in theoretical physics

Is there a database somewhere of the review literature (especially the most cited papers) in theoretical physics? I know about Spires but unfortunately it is not working. When I open a page it says ...
7
votes
2answers
221 views

How to find 'good' literature on a phenomenon?

With this being a potentially subjective question I know I'm threading on thin ice, but this is an actual "physics" problem I face from time to time: The situation is this: I hear about some ...
7
votes
2answers
633 views

Which is the “roundest man-made object”: Gravity probe B rotor or the Avogadro project sphere?

The Avogadro project is part of the efforts to replace the artefact-based standard kilogram with a definition based on naturally reproducible objects. The main challenge is to make a very precise ...
7
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

What are the best astronomy blogs and podcasts? [closed]

For someone who likes learning about astronomy what are the blogs and/or podcasts that I should be following?
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How important is mathematical proof in physics?

How important are proofs in physics? If something is mathematically proven to follow from something we know is true, does it still require experimental verification? Are there examples of things that ...