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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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 ...
7
votes
2answers
805 views

Interesting topics to research in mathematical physics for undergraduates

I'm planning on getting into research in mathematical physics and was wondering about interesting topics I can get into and possibly make some progress on. I'm particularity fond of abstract algebra ...
7
votes
1answer
723 views

The bar tender says we don't serve Tachyons around here?

What's the physics behind this joke?
4
votes
1answer
795 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
510 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
2answers
116 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
279 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
1answer
121 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
163 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
264 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
6answers
17k views

What distinguishes between physics and chemistry? [closed]

What are the major differences between physics and chemistry? I know that they both study atoms, electrons and molecules, but what makes some topics part of one and some part of another?
2
votes
2answers
153 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
244 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
0answers
220 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
759 views

Human power on treadmill

On an elliptical treadmill a regular person can easily burn 1000 calories in one hour (treadmill reports calories burnt). This translates into: $$(1\times 10^3\mathrm{cal/hr}\times ...
2
votes
4answers
506 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
0answers
120 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
380 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
698 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.
0
votes
1answer
112 views

Square-Cube Law?

I've heard about something called the square-cube law. What is it? All I know of it is that it has something to do with mass of large objects and their gravitational influence.
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 $ds$?
7
votes
2answers
390 views

Etymology of “Renormalisation”

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know why "renormalisation" is so named? Who first came up with the term, and why was it used? I did a mathematics undergraduate so to me "normalisation" means ...
6
votes
0answers
145 views

What kind of physics research can a high-schooler get involved in and form new discoveries in? [closed]

I am a high school student with a strong background in physics, engineering, and computer science. I am very interested in research and formulating my own discoveries in order to learn more about ...
6
votes
1answer
457 views

Mathematical concept of supersymmetry

I wish to study supersymmetry in field theory(sometime in december). However, I am quite not sure what is needed for its study. In supersymmetry, I just want to get the mathematical idea, such as its ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

How many oxygen molecules touch you in your lifetime?

Following up on a comment by BlueRaja to this beautiful answer of Ilmari Karonen, I would like to phrase this follow up question: How many air molecules hit your average human's skin during their ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

“And God said…and there was light.” What does these equations mean? [duplicate]

Today while I was on the Internet I came across an interesting picture, that caught my eye. It's : I don't have to explain why this picture seems interesting to someone who knows the meaning and ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Is Hubble's constant really constant? [duplicate]

How does Hubble's constant resembles age of universe? Isn't universe getting old each day? How can a constant be a reciprocal of age of universe? Hubble's value must be variable, isn't it?
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Download only physics and maths wikipedia pages for offline use [closed]

There are tools for downloading the entire wikipedia database (above 8 Gb without pictures), but I would like to download only physics and maths pages, to view them offline. Wikipedia pages have a ...
3
votes
3answers
196 views

What widely recognized organizations set standards used by physics?

I recently answered a question about the meaning of the word "dimension" as used in physics. In that response, I provided the definition given in the International Vocabulary of Metrology (VIM) and ...
2
votes
0answers
113 views

Doing numerics in physics [closed]

Soon, I am going to write my master thesis in theoretical physics. I assume there, and later on in my career, I will have to do more serious numerics than I did up to this point. That's why I want to ...
2
votes
4answers
154 views

Drake's equation

Some years ago i read about this equation that helps us estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. Now, i am wondering if there are results ...
2
votes
1answer
176 views

Why are there equations in physics with factors of 2, 3 and 5, but there aren't any with factors of 7 or 11?

I noticed that there are a lot of equations in physics with factors of 2, 3 and 5 (either in the numerator or in the denominator), but there aren't any with factors of 7 or any prime number greater ...
2
votes
1answer
169 views

How to pronounce $\textrm{eV}\!/c^2$

It seems that $\textrm{eV}\!/c^2$ (and its multiples) is commonly used as the unit of mass in particle physics. For example, David Griffiths uses it quite naturally in Introduction to Elementary ...
2
votes
2answers
861 views

What does one need to learn to become a experimental particles physicist? [closed]

I know one needs E&M, classical, quantum, statmech at the graduate level. But what more does one need? Are quantum field theory, relativistic QM, advanced math needed? or just an advanced course ...
2
votes
2answers
205 views

How is everything a field?

I've heard before that everything in physics can be thought of as either a field, or its excitation. Is there some intuitive explanation of how I can look at gravity, light, electromagnetism, etc as a ...
2
votes
3answers
704 views

Explanation for classic mechanics puzzle

I'm trying to figure out a nice way to describe to a kid the physics behind these experiments: Assuming ideal conditions, we have a small boat with a sale, close to a lake's shore and a fan fixed on ...
2
votes
1answer
634 views

What is the mathematical nature of space time quantization in string theory/super string theory?

I don't know much about string theory, apart from it being a theory of everything which brings QM, QED and nuclear forces and gravity under one single roof. I am curious to know from a mathematical ...
1
vote
1answer
83 views

Feynman's question on the mathematical machinery underlying nature [duplicate]

Physicist Richard Feynman said in his lectures "It always bothers me that according to the laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical ...
1
vote
2answers
193 views

What does the “T” stand for in T-duality?

First of all, I am not a physicist. I'm a graduate math student and recently I came across the concept of T-duality. Actually I'm studying generalized complex geometry, which according to this paper ...
1
vote
0answers
47 views

Prerequisites and introduction to string theory [duplicate]

Can someone please give me the prerequisites and mathematics required for string theory? Are there some good references to study it, both online and in a book? Please consider I am a newbie in string ...
1
vote
0answers
79 views

Books for learning Mathematics in Physics? [duplicate]

Currently I'm doing Advanced Classical Mechanics courses. I'm finding it hard to understand due to the lack of knowledge in linear algebra, multi variable calculus and other chapters. Can anyone ...
1
vote
2answers
417 views

Should we necessarily express the dimensions of a physical quantity within square brackets? [duplicate]

For example, should we write the dimension of mass, e.g. $\mathrm{kg}$ as $[M]$ or is it enough to write it as $M$?
1
vote
0answers
39 views

Material to read before taking College Physics 1? [duplicate]

I'm transferring to a 4-year university from a 2-year college. I earned a Computer Science A.S., but must now combine Computer Science with Advanced Physics for my B.S. I'm actually very excited for ...
1
vote
1answer
363 views

Would someone who is only interested in string theory benefit from working out the problems in Jackson electrodynamics?

This is a soft question. I'm not sure if it is appropriate for this site. Would someone who is only interested in string theory benefit from working out the problems in Jackson electrodynamics? I ...
1
vote
4answers
264 views

How to correctly show units with a vector

Supposed I have an position vector $$\vec{r}=\begin{pmatrix} 10.0 & -30.0 & 25.0\end{pmatrix}$$ expressed in $\mathrm{millimeters}$. What is the correct notation to display $\vec{r}$ ...
0
votes
1answer
122 views

In general, could any ad-hoc relationship of constants be useful?

In general; if one creates an ad-hoc relationship of constants, can we use it to solve equations OR is it just an abstract/artificial math construct? I'm a grad student and as we all know, these ...
0
votes
3answers
784 views

Why are diffraction gratings not called interference gratings? [closed]

It seems to me that diffraction gratings are completely described by the double slit experiment-why then is it called a diffraction grating?
0
votes
1answer
202 views

What would be the requirement to learn matrix mechanics? [duplicate]

What would be the requirement to learn matrix mechanics? More specifically, what math do I need? Can anyone recommend me a book that covers all maths needed for matrix mechanics?