34
votes
16answers
12k views

Getting started self-studying general relativity

What are some good books, videos, websites for getting started with general relativity? I would prefer mathematically rigorous sources.
17
votes
3answers
954 views

Symmetrical twin paradox

Take the following gedankenexperiment in which two astronauts meet each other again and again in a perfectly symmetrical setting - a hyperspherical (3-manifold) universe in which the 3 dimensions are ...
40
votes
13answers
9k views

Home experiments to derive the speed of light?

Are there any experiments I can do to derive the speed of light with only common household tools?
17
votes
4answers
2k views

How can I measure the mass of the Earth at home?

How can I measure the mass of the Earth at home? How was the mass of the Earth first measured?
7
votes
5answers
594 views

Why were the SI base quantities chosen as such?

The reasons for choosing length, mass, time, temperature, and amount as base quantities look (at least to me) obvious. What I'm puzzling about is why current (as opposed to resistance, electromotive ...
43
votes
2answers
19k views

Why don't electric fish shock themselves?

Fish like electric eels and torpedoes have specially designed nerve cells that allow them to discharge hundreds of volts of electricity. Now, while pure water is usually nonconductive, the dissolved ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

Physics and Computer Science

Not sure if this is a 'real' question, but what is the relation between physics and computer science? A lot of physicists are also computer scientists and vice versa. My professor has a PhD in Physics ...
8
votes
1answer
8k views

The principle behind door peepholes

Hotels usually install peepholes in their doors so that a person inside a suite can see who is at the door without having to open it. I understand that there should be a convex lens within the ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

How can I determine transmission/reflection coefficients for light?

When light rays reflect off a boundary between two materials with different indices of refraction, a lot of the sources I've seen (recently) don't discuss the relation between the amplitude (or ...
8
votes
7answers
2k views

Is electricity instantaneous?

My question is basically what exactly is electricity? I've simply been told before that it's a flow of electrons, but this seems too basic and doesn't show that electricity is instant. What I mean is ...
-1
votes
2answers
5k views

Period of Precession [closed]

I'm trying to find the period of precession for a gyroscope. Now I was able to find the angular precession rate, which was 1.132 rad/s, but I have no idea how to convert this to a 'period', and google ...
0
votes
2answers
322 views

Angular Momentum and Force [closed]

I'm stuck on number 5. The answers to the first 4 are correct, but I dont know how to set up number 5. Any idea that I would have would require me having some kind of time information, but thats not ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Angular Momentum and Average Torque

Refer to number 6. This is the one I'm stuck on. So angular momentum is conserved right, so initial angular momentum is equal to final angular momentum. Initial is 7.87 so final must be 7.87, right? ...
3
votes
4answers
6k views

Planet orbits: what's the difference between gravity and centripetal force?

My physics teacher says that centripetal force is caused by gravity. I'm not entirely sure how this works? How can force cause another in space (ie where there's nothing). My astronomy teacher says ...
19
votes
10answers
1k views

Why can't the outcome of a QM measurement be calculated a-priori?

Quantum Mechanics is very successful in determining the overall statistical distribution of many measurements of the same process. On the other hand, it is completely clueless in determining the ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Particle physics getting started

I know classical physics, quantum mechanics, special relativity, basic nuclear physics. I would like to get into some particle physics. I want to get into that higgs boson, lepton, quark things :D ...
-1
votes
3answers
2k views

Why did people expect the number of electrons emitted because of the photoelectric effect to rise with the radiation's intensity?

The number of electrons emitted because of the photoelectric effect rises with the frequency of the radiation is not influenced by the intensity of the radiation (As Chad points out, this is wrong, ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

What determines the pitch of an explosion?

It's bonfire weekend here in the UK, and everybody is intent on shooting fireworks. I was wondering, what determines the pitch of the sound produced by an explosion? The sound has clearly a ...
8
votes
5answers
4k views

Why does water make a sound when it is disturbed?

When I disturb a body of water, what causes the familiar "water moving" sound?
8
votes
1answer
202 views

How do subgrid-scale parametrisations in climate models work?

Global Circulation Models typically have grids of 100-300km on a side. There are obviously lots of atmospheric processes that happen at smaller scales than this. Convection, cloud formation, the ...
14
votes
4answers
4k views

Is energy really conserved?

In high school I was taught energy was conserved. Then I learned that nuclear reactions allow energy to be converted into mass. Then I also heard that apparently energy can spontaneously appear in ...
141
votes
9answers
20k views

What really allows airplanes to fly?

What aerodynamic effects actually contribute to producing the lift on an airplane? I know there's a common belief that lift comes from the Bernoulli effect, where air moving over the wings is at ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

How is it that angular velocities are vectors, while rotations aren't?

Does anyone have an intuitive explanation of why this is the case?
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the most counter-intuitive result in physics? [closed]

I think that relativity and quantum mechanics would provide some good examples.
21
votes
7answers
7k views

Why don't spinning tops fall over?

One topic which was covered in university, but which I never understood, is how a spinning top "magically" resists the force of gravity. The conservation of energy explanations make sense, but I don't ...
13
votes
6answers
3k views

Would wearing clothing that is black on the inside and white on the outside keep you cooler?

The Straight Dope ran an explanation of why nomads often wear black clothing - it absorbs heat better from the body. On the other hand, white clothing reflects sunlight better. Is it possible to get ...
7
votes
2answers
830 views

What physical forces pull/press water upwards in vegetation?

Each spring enormous amounts of water rise up in trees and other vegetation. What causes this stream upwards? Edit: I was under the impression that capillary action is a key factor: the original ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

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. ...
7
votes
3answers
481 views

Particle colliders: why do they need an accelerator chain

Particle colliders like the LHC or the Tevatron use a complex accelerator chain to have particles at a given energy before being accelerated. For example: The CERN accelerator complex to inject in ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

The Many Body problem

(This is a simple question, with likely a rather involved answer.) What are the primary obstacles to solve the many-body problem in quantum mechanics? Specifically, if we have a Hamiltonian for a ...
6
votes
7answers
9k views

What property of objects allow them to float?

I used to think that the shape of an object determines its ability to float (boat-shaped objects are more likely to float, and spheres tend to sink). But my friend, who is fond of making me look ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Finding the volume of this irregular shape I have

I have an approximately basketball-sized non-hollow piece of aluminum sitting in my house that is of irregular shape. I need to find the volume of it for a very legitimate yet irrelevant reason. ...
18
votes
5answers
1k views

How does Positronium exist?

I've just recently heard of Positronium, an "element" with interesting properties formed by an electron and positron, and I was shocked to hear that physicists were actually working with this element, ...
22
votes
8answers
6k views

How should a physics student study mathematics? [closed]

Note: I will expand this question with more specific points when I have my own internet connection and more time (we're moving in, so I'm at a friend's house). This question is broad, involved, and ...
2
votes
1answer
749 views

acceleration of rings in aerotrim (human gyroscope)

I'm working on a graphic simulation (just for fun, for an open-source screensaver) of an Aerotrim - a "human gyroscope", one of those exercise/training machines with a human in the middle, perched on ...
12
votes
8answers
2k views

Software for physics calculations

What is some good free software for doing physics calculations? I'm mainly interested in symbolic computation (something like Mathematica, but free).
5
votes
2answers
722 views

What are insightful/impressive experiments for adults [closed]

Similar to this question: what experiements do you think are impressive for layman adults? I for example like how you can simulate an Einstein Ring with the bottom of a wine glass.
23
votes
4answers
2k views

Why can you “suck in” cooked spaghetti?

We all know that there is no "sucking", only pushing. So how are cooked spaghetti pushed into your mouth? The air pressure applies orthogonal on the spaghetti surface. Where does the component ...
14
votes
7answers
6k views

Would it help if you jump inside a free falling elevator?

Imagine you're trapped inside a free falling elevator. Would you decrease your impact impulse by jumping during the fall? When?
9
votes
12answers
2k views

Is the distance between the sun and the earth increasing?

M = mass of the sun m = mass of the earth r = distance between the earth and the sun The sun is converting mass into energy by nuclear fusion. $F = \frac{GMm}{r^2} = \frac{mv^2}{r} \rightarrow r ...
28
votes
6answers
4k views

Fourier transformation in nature/natural physics?

I just came from a class on Fourier Transformations as applied to signal processing and sound. It all seems pretty abstract to me, so I was wondering if there were any physical systems that would ...
8
votes
2answers
547 views

Do current models of particle physics explain the chemical properties of elements/compounds?

I have a particle system of seven protons and seven (or sometimes eight) neutrons (each formed by their appropriate quarks, etc.) bound together in a state that can be macroscopically described as a ...
21
votes
5answers
2k views

How are forces “mediated”?

I hope this is the right word to use. To me, these forces seem kind of fanciful (except for General Relativity and Gravity, which have a geometric interpretation). For example, how do two charged ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

What are some scenarios where FTL information transfer would violate causality?

I've always heard people saying, "Faster than light information transfer can't happen because it would violate causality! Effects can precede their causes!" However, I'm trying to think of a ...
53
votes
14answers
14k views

Best books for mathematical background?

What are the best textbooks to read for the mathematical background you need for modern physics, such as, string theory? Some subjects off the top of my head that probably need covering: ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the mechanism of magnetic core saturation?

Why does a magnetic core saturate? What is its actual mechanism?
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Finding angular acceleration from torque

We have to analyze this video Givens: An applied net torque due to the wind on the windmill is equal to 1500 N*m. Each (of the 3) propeller props weighs approximately 45 Kg and has a Moment of ...
34
votes
4answers
2k views

What is needed to claim the discovery of the Higgs boson?

As I understand the Higg's boson can be discovered by the LHC because the collisions are done at an energy that is high enough to produce it and because the luminosity will be high enough also. But ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Is acceleration an absolute quantity?

I would like to know if acceleration is an absolute quantity, and if so why?
9
votes
5answers
634 views

Intuitively, why is a reversible process one in which the system is always at equilibrium?

A process is reversible if and only if it's always at equilibrium during the process. Why? I have heard several specific example of this, such as adding weight gradually to a piston to compress the ...

15 30 50 per page