# Tagged Questions

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12k views

### Can we theoretically balance a perfectly symmetrical pencil on its one-atom tip?

I was asked by an undergrad student about this question. I think if we were to take away air molecules around the pencil and cool it to absolute zero, that pencil would theoretically balance. Am I ...
12k views

### Why doesn't a bike/bicycle fall if going with a high speed?

Why does a bike/bicycle fall when its speed is very low or close to zero and is balanced when going with a high speed?
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### Is it possible that every single isotope is radioactive, and isotopes which we call stable are actually unstable but have an extremely long half-life?

I've read that tellurium-128 has an half-life of $2.2 \times 10^{24}$ years, much bigger than the age of the universe. So I've thought that maybe every single isotope of every single atom are ...
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### Why does this object periodically turn itself?

See below gif image taken from here. Or see this Youtube video about 30 sec in. Is this a real effect? Why does it seem to turn periodically? Can it be explained by classical mechanics alone? ...
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### How can the unstable particles of the standard model be considered particles in their own right if they immediately decay into stable particles?

How can the unstable particles of the standard model be considered particles in their own right if they immediately decay into stable particles? It would appear to a layman such as myself that these ...
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### Why are L4 and L5 lagrangian points stable?

This diagram from wikipedia shows the gravitational potential energy of the sun-earth two body system, and demonstrates clearly the semi-stability of the L1, L2, and L3 lagrangian points. The blue ...
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### Stability of rotation of a rectangular prism

I've noticed something curious about the rotation of a rectangular prism. If I take a box with height $\neq$ width $\neq$ depth and flip it into the air around different axes of rotation, some motions ...
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### Why do most office chairs have 5 wheels?

(Inspired by Why are four legged chairs so common?) I've been wondering for a while... Why do most wheeled office chairs have 5 wheels? My guess would be that while stability vs. simplicity ...
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### Where did Schrödinger solve the radiating problem of Bohr's model?

One of the problems with Bohr's theory to describe the hydrogen atom, was that the electron orbiting around the nucleus has an acceleration. Therefore it radiates and loses energy, until it would ...
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### Gravity in other dimensions than 3 and stable orbits

I have heard from here that stable orbits (ones that require a large amount of force to push it significantly out of it's elliptical path) can only exist in a three spatial dimensions because gravity ...
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### Staying in orbit - but doesn't any perturbation start a positive feedback?

I am not a physicist; I am a software engineer. While trying to fall asleep recently, I started thinking about the following. There are many explanations online of how any object stays in orbit. The ...
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### Why does the weighing balance restore when tilted and released

I'm talking about a Weighing Balance shown in the figure: Press & Hold on onside of the horizontal beam and then release it. It makes some oscillations and comes back to equilibrium like shown ...
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### Does leaning (banking) help cause turning on a bicycle?

I think it's clear enough that if you turn your bicycle's steering wheel left, while moving, and you don't lean left, the bike will fall over (to the right) as you turn. I figure this is because the ...
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### Does anyone know the mechanism behind this double helix cloud formation?

This looks like m=2 swirling instability mode of the axisymmetric jet, but how could an axisymmetric jet form up in the sky like that?
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### Why do all elements above $\require{mhchem}\ce{Fe}$ not decay to $\ce{Fe}$?

OK, so $\ce{Fe}$ is the most 'stable element'. As such, why do all elements above it not decay into $\ce{Fe}$? In all cases, would it not lead to an increase in binding energy and therefore energy ...
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### Is it possible that 5 planets can revolve around a single star in a single orbit?

I'm writing a novel and I'm quite confused if this system could be possible in the real universe. Is it possible that a system exist, where 5 identical planets which could be of same characteristics (...
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### Why are alpha particles such a prominent form of radiation and not other types of nucleon arrangement?

It is said in many textbooks that alpha decay involves emitting alpha particles, which are very stable. Indeed, the binding energy (~28.3 MeV) is higher than for $Z$-neighboring stable isotopes. But ...
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### James Webb Space Telescope's halo orbit at Lagrange point L2

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is expected to be launched in 2018 and operate in the L2 vicinity, about 1.5 million km from Earth. It will be placed in a halo orbit around the unstable L2 ...
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### Why doesn't an object, despite having a non-zero potential energy stored in it, fall by itself from the elevation?

When an object is at a certain height, it has some energy stored in it as we have done some work on it to get it to that height. So when it already has energy, then why doesn't it fall off from the ...
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### Two planets in same orbit - not planets?

Let us pretend for a moment that there are two identical planets that are exactly opposite their star from each other and are the same distance from said star. (This would make them, at all times, ...
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### The most stable way of standing in a bus

Here's what's bugging me for quite a long time. Imagine the every day situation, that you are standing in a bus with your back on wall having only limited space on the floor and no handle to hold. You ...
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### Why is Larry Niven's Ringworld Unstable?

In his 1970 science fiction novel Ringworld, author Larry Niven describes the eponymous Ringworld, a gigantic structure shaped as a ring with a radius of around 1 AU, rotating around a star in the ...
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### Stable muon density inside a white dwarf star?

It occurs to me (though I'm hardly the first) that the decay $$\mu^- \to e^- + \bar \nu_e + \nu_\mu$$ should be forbidden in electron-degenerate matter, since there must be an empty state available ...
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### How fast do you have to spin an egg to have it standing?

If you take a hardboiled egg and put it on a table and start to spin it, if you spin it fast enough it will start to spin in an upright position. What is the angular velocity needed for this ...
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### Question on the stability of the solar system

One of the pertinent questions about many body systems that causes me much wonder is why the solar system is so stable for billions of years. I came across the idea of "resonance" and albeit an useful ...
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### What if the Moon was 100x more massive: Binary planets?

I was reading a couple of Earth-Moon related questions (Mars just collided with Earth! A question of eccentricity, Could the earth have another moon?) and they got me thinking about planet-moon ...
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### Is it possible that black holes are also neutron stars, but so dark that we cannot see them?

Since the concept of the singularity in a black hole leads to infinite densities, I wonder if it is really certain that black holes exist? Is there a possibility that massive objects (which are ...
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### Why do objects sometimes fall on their own?

I have observed sometimes that when I keep some objects precariously balanced, for e.g. some objects in a cupboard, they seem quite stable at the time when I place them there but after a certain ...
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### The stability of D-Brane

In "String Theory and M-Theory: a modern introduction" by K.Becker, M. Becker and J.H.Schwarz, they say that BPS D-brane is stable as it preserves half of the Supersymmetry. I really want to ...
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### How reliant is the Solar System on being exactly the way it is?

We know that all objects with mass exert forces on all other objects of mass such that $$F = \frac{GMm}{R^2}.$$ And as others have discussed the planets do interfere with each other ...
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### Is Dyson Sphere a stable construction?

Suppose that a star is encompassed by a Dyson Sphere. Do we need a position control system for the Dyson Sphere to keep its origin always aligned with the center of the star? Will it stay aligned ...
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### Why does the heaviest point on a spinning ball tend to become the topmost pole? [duplicate]

I have a mostly hollow, small clear plastic ball. Inside the ball is a weight stuck to the edge but the weight is smaller than the ball so the ball will always come to rest with the weight at the ...
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### Lyapunov stability of circular orbits

I'm studying Classical mechanics on Arnold's "Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics". In a problem i'm asked to find for which $\alpha$ the circular orbits in the central field problem are ...
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### Why Are Normal Shock Waves Unstable in a Converging Channel?

While learning about shock waves in an introductory Gas Dynamics course, it was revealed that normal shocks are unstable if formed in a converging channel. Even if the local conditions ostensibly ...
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### How does the distance between two rails effect the speed of a steel ball bearing?

As part of a school science project, I constructed a Rollercoaster using Polyurethane tubing as rails for a steel ball bearing to rest on. In the process of building the coaster I observed that ...
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### Deducing instability growth rates from the Hamiltonian for the nonlinear schrodinger equation

Consider the following nonlinear Schrodinger equation (NLSE): $$A_t+iA_{xx}+i|A|^2A = 0$$ where $A$ is a complex valued function of $(x,t)$. A solution to this equation is $A=a_oe^{-ia_o^2t}$. We ...
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### Effect of water on wobble of rotating structure

If we have a structure that rotates to create artificial gravity, then if the mass isn't perfectly distributed along the circumference the CM will be offset from the geometric center so there will be ...
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### Why is this handle flipping back and forth? [duplicate]

This gif of some kind of handle being spun in zero gravity has been doing the rounds: Why is it flipping back and forth? It seems odd that it flips, then seems to rotate around one axis in a ...
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### Why is the orbital resonance of the Galilean moons stable?

It is well known that the orbits of Ganymede, Europa and Io are in a 4:2:1 resonance. Most online sources (including but not limited to Wikipedia) say that such an orbital resonance, along with the 3:...
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### Rayleigh-Taylor Instability dependence on acceleration direction

I'm trying to bolster my understanding of the Rayleigh-Taylor instability, and I've gotten stuck on the point of which fluid (more or less dense) is being accelerated into the other. Cases of uniform ...
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### What determines the (minimum) angle at which a domino falls over?

Dominoes, when placed upright, remain that way. Sometimes, even if you tip them a little bit, they will go back to their upright position. However, if you tip them too far, they will fall over. ...
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### Will Cone standing on its tip, without any other force other than gravity topple?

A cone standing on its tip is considered to be in unstable equilibrium as a slightest force could topple it. So, if the cone is stood on its tip with no other force other than gravity (and the ...
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### Gravitational potential outside Lagrangian points or Lagrange points

The diagram in Why are L4 and L5 lagrangian points stable? shows that the gravitational potential decreases outside the ring of Lagrange points — this image shows it even more clearly: If I ...
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### Do all celestial objects have stationary orbit?

Do all celestial bodies of sufficient mass such big asteroids, moon, planets etc. have orbit such that the period of revolution is same as the sidereal period of that object (such as geostationary ...
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### Changes in planetary orbit?

Forgive a novice and her naive curiosity, but I was wondering about planetary orbit and the aging of planets. As a planet ages, does its transit around its sun/star decrease or increase in speed? ...
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### Will a wheel rolling down a hill ever fall over?

Say I have a detached bicycle wheel and I roll it down an infinite, flat, asphalt inclined plane, in air (ie there will be a terminal velocity). When, if ever, will the wheel fall over? I've been ...
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### Why aren't there more natural satellites orbiting the Earth than just the Moon?

Considering that there's a lot of debris in space and that impacts fling out rocks into space all the time, why do we only have one large natural satellite - the Moon? Shouldn't there be all kinds of ...
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### Is mid-water bouyancy a classic example of a balanced but unstable system?

I came to this thought experiment as I was pondering good teaching examples of stable and unstable systems. It occurred to me that stable systems are really quite abundant. For a shoot-from-the-hip ...