4
votes
6answers
3k views

Do photons have acceleration?

Photons travels with the largest speed in our universe, the speed of light. Do photons have acceleration?
9
votes
6answers
14k views

Is the universe finite or infinite?

I thought the universe was finite, but then I read this: How can something finite become infinite? And they seem to assume it is infinite. So which is it?
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Explain how (or if) a box full of photons would weigh more due to massless photons

I understand that mass-energy equivalence is often misinterpreted as saying that mass can be converted into energy and vice versa. The reality is that energy is always manifested as mass in some ...
2
votes
1answer
709 views

Interaction potential in standard $\phi^4$ theory

In this paper, the authors consider a real scalar field theory in $d$-dimensional flat Minkowski space-time, with the action given by $$S=\int d^d\! x ...
57
votes
9answers
5k views

Is Angular Momentum truly fundamental?

This may seem like a slightly trite question, but it is one that has long intrigued me. Since I formally learned classical (Newtonian) mechanics, it has often struck me that angular momentum (and ...
30
votes
16answers
8k views

Getting started general relativity

What are some good books, videos, websites for getting started with general relativity? Mathematically rigorous preferred!
62
votes
5answers
13k views

What does it mean for two objects to “touch”?

If you've ever been annoyingly poked by a geek, you might be familiar with the semi-nerdy obnoxious response of "I'm not actually touching you! The electrons in the atoms of my skin are just ...
35
votes
13answers
9k views

Why is cold fusion considered bogus?

Cold fusion is being mentioned a lot lately because of some new setup that apparently works. This is an unverified claim. See for example: ...
46
votes
5answers
21k views

Is the universe fundamentally deterministic?

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this question. I realise that this maybe a borderline philosophical question at this point in time, therefore feel free to close this question if you ...
28
votes
13answers
2k views

Lagrangians not of the form $T-U$

My Physics teacher was reluctant to define Lagrangian as Kinetic Energy minus Potential Energy because he said that there were cases where a system's Lagrangian did not take this form. Are you are ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

How do I construct the $SU(2)$ representation of the Lorentz Group using $SU(2)\times SU(2)\sim SO(3,1)$ ?

This question is based on problem II.3.1 in Anthony Zee's book Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell (I'm reading this for fun- it isn't a homework problem.) Show, by explicit calculation, that ...
37
votes
7answers
2k views

Is 3+1 spacetime as privileged as is claimed?

I've often heard the argument that having 3 spatial dimensions is very special. Such arguments are invariably based on certain assumptions that do not appear to be justifiable at all, at least to me. ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

Conservation law of energy and Big Bang?

Did the law of conservation of energy apply to the earliest moments of the Big Bang? If so, what theoretical physics supports this? I hear that Einstein's theory of relativity disputes the law of ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

How to derive addition of velocities without the Lorentz transformation?

Lorentz contraction and time dilatation can be deduced without Lorentz transformation. Can you deduce also the theorem of addition of velocities $$w~=~\dfrac{u+v}{1+uv/c^2}$$ without Lorentz ...
10
votes
8answers
4k views

Is there a proof of existence of time?

It seems to me that there is no such thing as time. There is only movement in the universe and we compare our own movement to a different object to have a sense of time. It can be a clock or a atomic ...
16
votes
15answers
3k views

What are the mechanics by which Time Dilation and Length Contraction occur?

What are the mechanics of time dilation and length contraction? Going beyond the mathematical equations involving light and the "speed limit of the universe", what is observed is merely a phenomenon ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Misused physics analogies [closed]

Have you noticed that many questions and misconceptions in physics arise due to misuse of analogies, which were invented to "explain in simple words" some physical phenomena? For example there is a ...
19
votes
3answers
81k views

Virtual vs Real image

I'm doing magnification and lens in class currently, and I really don't get why virtual and real images are called what they are. A virtual image occurs the object is less than the focal length of ...
11
votes
7answers
2k views

What is the proof that the universal constants ($G$, $\hbar$, $\ldots$) are really constant in time and space?

Cavendish measured the gravitation constant $G$, but actually he measured that constant on the Earth. What’s the proof that the value of the gravitation constant if measured on Neptune would remain ...
10
votes
7answers
1k views

What is an observer in quantum mechanics?

My question is not about (pseudo) philosophical debate; it concerns mathematical operations and experimental facts. What is an observer? What are the conditions required to be qualified of observer, ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

What is a complete book for quantum field theory?

I am searching for a complete and comprehensive book for QFT. What is, in your opinion, a good one?
13
votes
4answers
1k views

$\lambda=\frac{2h}{p}$ instead of $\lambda=\frac{h}{p}$?

I am studying quantum physics and there is something I don't understand: I know that for any particle $E=hf$ (Einstein relation) and $v=\lambda f$ ($v$ is the speed of the particle). I also know ...
4
votes
1answer
643 views

Radial fall in a Newtonian gravitational field [duplicate]

Suppose an object of mass $m$ starts at rest at a radial distance $ r_0$ from a perfectly spherical mass $M$ (where $m << M$), $r_0 > R =$ radius of $M$. Can we analytically determine when ...
37
votes
8answers
3k views

Do Maxwell's Equations overdetermine the electric and magnetic fields?

Maxwell's equations specify two vector and two scalar (differential) equations. That implies 8 components in the equations. But between vector fields $\vec{E}=(E_x,E_y,E_z)$ and ...
27
votes
4answers
5k views

What if the LHC doesn't see SUSY?

A question in four parts. What are the main problems which supersymmetry purports to solve? What would constitute lack of evidence for SUSY at the proposed LHC energy scales (e.g. certain predicted ...
24
votes
5answers
7k views

Why do electron and proton have the same but opposite electric charge?

What is the explanation between equality of proton and electron charges (up to a sign)? This is connected to the gauge invariance and renormalization of charge is connected to the renormalization of ...
15
votes
10answers
4k views

QM without complex numbers

I am trying to understand how complex numbers made their way into QM. Can we have a theory of the same physics without complex numbers? If so, is the theory using complex numbers easier?
18
votes
5answers
4k views

Are W & Z bosons virtual or not?

W and Z bosons are observed/discovered. But as force carrying bosons they should be virtual particles, unobservable? And also they require to have mass, but if they are virtual they may be off-shell, ...
42
votes
10answers
11k views

What happens to the energy when waves perfectly cancel each other?

What happens to the energy when waves perfectly cancel each other (destructive interference)? It appears that the energy "disappear" but the law of conservation of energy states that it can't be ...
22
votes
2answers
3k views

How are classical optics phenomena explained in QED (Snell's law)?

How is the following classical optics phenomenon explained in quantum electrodynamics? Reflection and Refraction Are they simply due to photons being absorbed and re-emitted? How do we get to ...
10
votes
1answer
874 views

Rigged Hilbert space and QM

Are there any comprehensive texts that discuss QM using the notion of rigged Hilbert spaces? It would be nice if there were a text that went through the standard QM examples using this structure.
21
votes
3answers
976 views

Hilbert space of harmonic oscillator: Countable vs uncountable?

Hm, this just occurred to me while answering another question: If I write the Hamiltonian for a harmonic oscillator as $$H = \frac{p^2}{2m} + \frac{1}{2} m \omega^2 x^2$$ then wouldn't one set of ...
31
votes
8answers
6k 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?
16
votes
4answers
3k views

If a 1kg mass was accelerated close to the speed of light would it turn into a black hole?

I'm a big fan of the podcast Astronomy Cast and a while back I was listening to a Q&A episode they did. A listener sent in a question that I found fascinating and have been wondering about ever ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Is time dilation an illusion?

It is said that we can verify time dilation by flying a very accurate clock on a fast jet or spaceship and prove that it registers less time than the clocks on earth. However, the clocks on earth ...
379
votes
20answers
138k views

Cooling a cup of coffee with help of a spoon

During the breakfast with my colleagues, a question popped into my head: What is the fastest method to cool a cup of coffee, if your only available instrument is a spoon? A qualitative answer would ...
57
votes
6answers
3k views

The Role of Rigor

The purpose of this question is to ask about the role of mathematical rigor in physics. In order to formulate a question that can be answered, and not just discussed, I divided this large issue into ...
33
votes
8answers
3k views

Does Gödel preclude a workable ToE?

Gödel's incompleteness theorem prevents a universal axiomatic system for math. Is there any reason to believe that it also prevents a theory of everything for physics? Edit: I haven't before seen ...
22
votes
4answers
3k views

Mathematically-oriented Treatment of General Relativity

Can someone suggest a textbook that treats general relativity from a rigorous mathematical perspective? Ideally, such a book would Prove all theorems used. Use modern "mathematical notation" as ...
29
votes
4answers
3k views

Do two beams of light attract each other in general theory of relativity?

In general relativity, light is subject to gravitational pull. Does light generate gravitational pull, and do two beams of light attract each other?
19
votes
6answers
2k views

What are the various physical mechanisms for energy transfer to the photon during blackbody emission?

By conservation of energy, the solid is left in a lower energy state following emission of a photon. Clearly absorption and emission balance at thermal equilibrium, however, thermodynamic equilibrium ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

Energy conservation in General Relativity

I understand that energy conservation is not a rule in general relativity, but I'd like to know under what circumstances it can still be possible. In other words, when is it possible to associate a ...
24
votes
1answer
1k views

How does classical GR concept of space-time emerge from string theory?

First, I'll state some background that lead me to the question. I was thinking about quantization of space-time on and off for a long time but I never really looked into it any deeper (mainly because ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Are Newton's “laws” of motion laws or definitions of force and mass?

If you consider them as laws, then there must be independent definitions of force and mass but I don't think there's such definitions. If you consider them as definitions, then why are they still ...
12
votes
7answers
2k views

What determines which frames are inertial frames?

I understand that you can (in principle) measure whether "free particles" (no forces) experience accelerations in order to tell whether a frame is inertial. But fundamentally, what determines which ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

How to get Planck length

I know that what Planck length equals to. The first question is, how do you get the formula $$\ell_P~=~\sqrt\frac{\hbar G}{c^3}$$ that describes the Planck length? The second question is, will any ...
19
votes
10answers
5k views

What equation describes the wavefunction of a single photon?

The Schrödinger equation describes the quantum mechanics of a single massive non-relativistic particle. The Dirac equation governs a single massive relativistic spin-½ particle. The photon is a ...
18
votes
7answers
13k views

What determines color — wavelength or frequency?

What determines the color of light -- is it the wavelength of the light or the frequency? (i.e. If you put light through a medium other than air, in order to keep its color the same, which one would ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

Classical limit of quantum mechanics

I have heard that one can recover classical mechanics from quantum mechanics in the limit the $\hbar$ goes to zero. How can this be done? (Ideally, I would love to see something like: as $\hbar$ ...
18
votes
7answers
6k views

What does it mean to say “Gravity is the weakest of the forces”?

I can understand that on small scales (within an atom/molecule), the other forces are much stronger, but on larger scales, it seems that gravity is a far stronger force; e.g. planets are held to the ...

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