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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23
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 ...
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 ...
20
votes
5answers
4k 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
5answers
818 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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
346 views

Can You Obtain New Physics from the use of Fractional Derivatives?

I was curious if anyone could give me an example of the use of fractional derivatives in physics and explain what they offer that "conventional" mathematics does not (in terms of new physics and not ...
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 ...
4
votes
0answers
513 views

A gentle introduction to CFT [closed]

Which is the definition of a conformal field theory? Which are the physical prerequisites one would need to start studying conformal field theories? (i.e Does one need to know supersymmetry? Does one ...
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? ...
6
votes
1answer
317 views

Physical intuition/interpretation of fractional derivatives/integrals?

Oftentimes, when the derivative and integral operations are introduced within the realm of physics, we are taught some physical interpretation of them: Velocity is the derivative of position ...
4
votes
2answers
511 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
200 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 ...
44
votes
3answers
4k views
17
votes
6answers
3k 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 points:...
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 ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Areas of computer science required for quantum computing

What knowledge of computer science should I have, to be able to pursue research in quantum computing. I am a Physics undergrad and would take three core courses in QM, before the completion of my ...
4
votes
1answer
281 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
1answer
163 views

The spin and weight of a primary field in CFT

A primary field in Conformal Field Theory transforms as $$\phi (z,\bar{z}) =\left(\frac{dz}{dz'} \right)^h \left(\frac{d\bar{z}}{d\bar{z}'} \right)^\bar{h}\phi (z',\bar{z}') $$ under a conformal ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Connections between classical and quantum mechanics?

I've done basic or introductory mechanics at the level of Resnick and Halliday. I'm currently studying calculus of variations and the Lagrangian formulation of mechanics on my own. I read somewhere ...
3
votes
1answer
627 views

Introductions to discrete space-time

It's comparatively easy (cum grano salis) to grasp the following concepts: Euclidean space-time (continous space and continuous time) classical mechanics (discretely distributed matter in continous ...
9
votes
3answers
298 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?
7
votes
3answers
409 views

Feedback on the paper, 'CCC-predicted low-variance circles in CMB sky and LCDM' by V. G. Gurzadyan and R. Penrose [closed]

Ref: CCC-predicted low-variance circles in CMB sky and LCDM To all cosmology / theoretical physics / related or similar researchers and academics, Are there some updates concerning the issue of ...
6
votes
5answers
6k views

What does it take to become a top physicist? [closed]

What does it take to become a top physicist? Why do so many extremely talented young upstarts totally flop as they move to more advanced physics?
6
votes
0answers
246 views

Semiclassical QED and long-range interaction

I'm interested in the (very) low energy limit of quantum electrodynamics. I've seen that taking this limit does not yield Maxwell equations, but a quantum corrected non-linear version of them. If ...
5
votes
2answers
187 views

Does Bell's inequalities also rule out non-computable local hidden variable theories?

I have beenn reading different articles on Bell's assumptions and interpretations, including superdeterminsm. I always end up dizzy when I try tho think about this specific question, so any hints ...
5
votes
2answers
395 views

Where does this term “shell” with prefix “on-/off-” come from?

Is there some historical reasons or is there a specific reason behind it? This question is connected to: Why on-shell vs. off-shell matters?
3
votes
1answer
214 views

Where did the concept of energy come from?

Energy seems to me to be a very abstract thing, and while it clearly works out very nicely, I don't understand how anyone would have thought to come up with it. Where does the concept of energy find ...
3
votes
3answers
523 views

Physical significance of getting an non-integrable function in an equation

I just found out during my Calculus course in High School, that there exist functions which cannot be integrated. Then I thought that I come across a lot of integrals while solving Physics questions....
2
votes
3answers
418 views

How to show that probability and statistics are very important in Quantum Mechanics?

I'm doing a research for my stats class in high school and I chose quantum mechanics as my subject. I narrowed down to electron localization in an atom and radial probability distribution. However, I ...
2
votes
0answers
112 views

Learning Roadmap to Mathematical Physics [duplicate]

Currently, I am a graduate student specializing in algebraic geometry. On the other hand, I have also become extremely interested in the mathematical physics. However, I am not sure what steps I ...
8
votes
1answer
316 views

Any open areas to work in non equilibrium thermodynamics for a Phd student? [closed]

I see that many papers written on fundamentals of thermodynamics(theory) nowadays are by some old professors somewhere(there may be exceptions). Most active young faculty don't seem to be seriously ...
7
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
847 views

Maths behind gravity assist

What kind of maths is behind gravity assists and in general the theory of orbits, and how deep does it go? I am just wondering if I know enough prerequisites!
4
votes
7answers
1k views

For a theoretical (not mathematical) physicist, is there a need to learn pure mathematics?

For a theoretical physicist (not a mathematical physicist), is there a need to learn pure mathematics ?
4
votes
2answers
515 views

How to calculate the highest theoretical artificial hill?

The biggest peak in the world is Mount Everest. Imagine someone starting to make an artificial hill (like pyramide) from soil (earth). So, when starting with an 200x200 Km base area, with 45degree ...
3
votes
1answer
122 views

What topics do I need to study electromagnetism on the quantum scale? [closed]

What topics do I need to study (in order) so that I can study electromagnetics on the quantum scale? What is the name of the discipline studying electromagnetism on the quantum scale? Do I need to ...
3
votes
2answers
306 views

Why doesn't a glass french press shatter when boiling water is poured in?

When I was little, I accidentally shattered a glass cooking instrument due to applying far too drastic a temperature change to it. Since then, I've been a bit afraid of doing it again. Of late, I've ...
3
votes
2answers
269 views

Lexical/ontological/semantic knowledge base for physics

(1) Are there lexical/semantic knowledge bases for physics that can be used for automated reasoning and AI (like Princeton's Wordnet and MIT's Conceptnet for common sense English usage)? (2) If not ...
3
votes
2answers
117 views

Ion-propelled vs. Ion Thruster

I am fifteen and an aspiring Mechanical Engineer. I read about ion-propelled aircraft, and was fascinated. On NASA's YouTube channels they outlined Ion Thrusters as a potential way to reach greater ...
2
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
223 views

What is the difference between a philosopher of science and a theoretical physicist? [closed]

What is the characteristic objective difference in objectively observable attitudes and research styles between a philosopher of physics and a theoretical physicist? Was Ernst Mach more of a ...
2
votes
2answers
160 views

How are weights and scales used by the public calibrated?

My physics teacher has a set of masses: things from 1 to 10 grams. My chemistry teacher has electronic balances that measures things in grams. In France, there is a block of metal we hope no one ...
2
votes
6answers
247 views

Is $∣1 \rangle$ an abuse of notation?

In introductory quantum mechanics it is always said that $∣ \rangle$ is nothing but a notation. For example, we can denote the state $\vec \psi$ as $∣\psi \rangle$. In other words, the little arrow ...
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. I ...
2
votes
4answers
514 views

Why was PACER abandoned?

The PACER project is described in this question: How much of the energy from 1 megaton H Bomb explosion could we capture to do useful work? Why was it abandoned? It seems that it is the only readily ...
1
vote
2answers
383 views

How much physics a mathematician needs to know to study GR? [duplicate]

I'm intending to study General Relativity on my own. The thing is, my physics background is not very strong. I know classical mechanics and I know some electromagnetism. I'm familiar with Gauss' law, ...
1
vote
4answers
707 views

Matrix mechanics for those with wave mechanics background

Just curious: Is there any book or resource that teaches matrix mechanics (quantum mechanics) only without wave mechanics stuff - meaning that the book assumes wave mechanics background.
1
vote
0answers
121 views

Is multiverse generally accepted among cosmologists? [closed]

Is it consensus among cosmologist that there is probably at least one type of multiverse? Is there any renowned physicist who rejects the idea of multiverse? I'm not talking about those who claim it's ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Math and Theoretical Physics Topics & Textbook for Self-Study [duplicate]

I am from Singapore, a civil engineering graduate and I've graduated from university in 2009. Throughout my school days I've been interested in Physics, unfortunately I was not accepted into the ...
0
votes
1answer
305 views

How to express $ds$?(when we know expression for $ds^{2}$) [closed]

We know that $$ds^2 = g_{\mu\nu}dx^{\mu}dx^{\nu},$$ Can you say how to calculate $ds$?