39
votes
1answer
6k views

What conservation law corresponds to Lorentz boosts?

Noether's Theorem is used to related the invariance under certain continuous transformations to conserved currents. A common example is that translations in spacetime correspond to the conservation of ...
67
votes
5answers
10k views

Why wet is dark?

When something gets wet, it usually appears darker. This can be observed with soil, sand, cloth, paper, concrete, bricks ... What is the reason for this? How does water soaking into the material ...
19
votes
3answers
5k views

Deriving the Lagrangian for a free particle

I'm a newbie in physics. Sorry, if the following questions are dumb. I began reading "Mechanics" by Landau and Lifshitz recently and hit a few roadblocks right away. Proving that a free particle ...
15
votes
10answers
8k views

Book about classical mechanics

I am looking for a book about "advanced" classical mechanics. By advanced I mean a book considering directly Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulation, and also providing a firm basis in the geometrical ...
24
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
25
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
7k views

The Time That 2 Masses Will Collide Due To Newtonian Gravity

My friend and I have been wracking our heads with this one for the past 3 hours... We have 2 point masses, $m$ and $M$ in a perfect world separated by radius r. Starting from rest, they both begin to ...
32
votes
6answers
2k views

In quantum mechanics, given certain energy spectrum can one generate the corresponding potential?

A typical problem in quantum mechanics is to calculate the spectrum that corresponds to a given potential. Is there a one to one correspondence between the potential and its spectrum? If the ...
23
votes
4answers
8k views

Amplitude of an electromagnetic wave containing a single photon

Given a light pulse in vacuum containing a single photon with an energy $E=h\nu$, what is the peak value of the electric / magnetic field?
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does light of high frequency appear violet?

When people are asked to match monchromatic violet light with an additive mix of basic colours, they (paradoxically) mix in red. In fact, the CIE 1931 color space chromaticity diagram shows this ...
11
votes
5answers
3k 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
10answers
4k 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 ...
9
votes
7answers
1k views

Time, what is it? [closed]

If you ask any person about time, she/he will give you some answer. I suspect that it is extremely difficult, (if not impossible) to define time. Is there a definition of what it is in physics? Is it ...
30
votes
4answers
100k views

How does water evaporate if it doesn't boil?

When the sun is out after a rain, I can see what appears to be steam rising off a wooden bridge nearby. I'm pretty sure this is water turning into a gas. However, I thought water had to reach 100 ...
22
votes
5answers
4k views

Why is there a controversy on whether mass increases with speed?

Some people say that mass increases with speed, some people say that the mass of an object is independent of its speed. I understand how some (though not many) things in physics are a matter of ...
18
votes
1answer
640 views

Can the Hubble constant be measured locally?

The Hubble constant, which roughly gauges the extent to which space is being stretched, can be determined from astronomical measurements of galactic velocities (via redshifts) and positions (via ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

About free quarks and confinement

I simply know that a single free quark does not exist. What is the reason that we can not get a free quark? If we can't get a free quark then what is single-top-quark?
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Kepler problem in time: how do two gravitationally attracted particles move?

Two particles with initial positions and velocities $r_1,v_1$ and $r_2,v_2$ are interacting by the inverse square law (with G=1), so that $$ {d^2r_1\over dt^2} = - { m_2(r_1-r_2)\over |r_1-r_2|^3} $$ ...
18
votes
3answers
5k views

The exchange of photons gives rise to the electromagnetic force

Pardon me for my stubborn classical/semiclassical brain. But I bet I am not the only one finding such description confusing. If EM force is caused by the exchange of photons, does that mean only when ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Distance in relativistic circular motion in invariant spacetime

I understand that the closer something travels to the speed of light, that time will stretch by a factor, and distance will compress by the same factor. My question is, if something travels in a ...
6
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
20k views

Why don't electromagnetic waves require a medium?

As I understand it, electromagnetic waves have two components which are the result of each other, i.e., when a moving electric charge creates a changing magnetic field at point X then a changing ...
5
votes
1answer
9k views

Planck's Law in terms of wavelength

I am drawing a blank when it comes to equation transformation. Wikipedia gives two equations for the spectral radiance of black body: First as a function of frequency $\nu$: $$I(\nu, T) = \frac{2 h ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are eigenfunctions which correspond to discrete/continuous eigenvalue spectra guaranteed to be normalizable/non-normalizable?

These facts are taken for granted in a QM text I read. The purportedly guaranteed non-normalizability of eigenfunctions which correspond to a continuous eigenvalue spectrum is only partly justified by ...
2
votes
1answer
865 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
424 views

How can gravity affect light?

I understand that a black hole bends the fabric of space time to a point that no object can escape. I understand that light travels in a straight line along spacetime unless distorted by gravity. If ...
119
votes
3answers
26k views

Why does Stephen Hawking say black holes don't exist?

Recently, I read in the journal Nature that Stephen Hawking wrote a paper claiming that black holes do not exist. How is this possible? Please explain it to me because I didn't understand what he ...
114
votes
7answers
15k views

Does Earth really have two high-tide bulges on opposite sides?

The bit that makes sense – tidal forces My physics teacher explained that most tidal effect is caused by the Moon rotating around the Earth, and some also by the Sun. They said that in the Earth and ...
34
votes
9answers
5k views

Rigor in quantum field theory

Quantum field theory is a broad subject and has the reputation of using methods which are mathematically desiring. For example working with and subtracting infinities or the use of path integrals, ...
29
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
39
votes
13answers
11k 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: ...
27
votes
3answers
6k 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, ...
17
votes
11answers
49k views

How do you start learning physics by yourself? [closed]

I think this question has its place here because I am sure some of you are "self-taught experts" and can guide me a little through this process. Considering that : I don't have any physics scholar ...
13
votes
5answers
2k views

Noether charge of local symmetries

If our Lagrangian is invariant under a local symmetry, then, by simply restricting our local symmetry to the case in which the transformation is constant over space-time, we obtain a global symmetry, ...
42
votes
7answers
4k 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 ...
32
votes
4answers
2k views

From where (in space-time) does Hawking radiation originate?

According to my understanding of black hole thermodynamics, if I observe a black hole from a safe distance I should observe black body radiation emanating from it, with a temperature determined by its ...
30
votes
4answers
12k 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 ...
19
votes
6answers
57k views

What is the physical significance of dot & cross product of vectors? Why is division not defined for vectors?

I get the physical significance of vector addition & subtraction. But I don't understand what do dot & cross products mean? More specifically, why is it that dot product of vectors ...
25
votes
3answers
6k views

What is the difference between implicit and explicit time dependence e.g. $\frac{\partial \rho}{\partial t}$ and $\frac{d \rho} {dt}$?

What is the difference between implicit and explicit time dependence e.g. $\frac{\partial \rho}{\partial t}$ and $\frac{d \rho} {dt}$? I know one is a partial derivative and the other is a total ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Mathematically, what is color charge?

A similar question was asked here, but the answer didn't address the following, at least not in a way that I could understand. Electric charge is simple - it's just a real scalar quantity. Ignoring ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

Introduction to string theory

I am in the last year of MSc. and would like to read string theory. I have the Zwiebach Book, but along with it what other advanced book can be followed, which can be a complimentary to Zwiebach. I ...
31
votes
6answers
5k views

Do electrons have shape?

According to the Wikipedia page on the electron: The electron has no known substructure. Hence, it is defined or assumed to be a point particle with a point charge and no spatial extent. Does ...
20
votes
4answers
8k views

When is the Hamiltonian of a system not equal to its total energy?

I thought the Hamiltonian was always equal to the total energy of a system but have read that this isn't always true. Is there an example of this and does the Hamiltonian have a physical ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

Virtual photon description of B and E fields

I continue to find it amazing that something as “bulky” and macroscopic as a static magnetic or electric field is actually a manifestation of virtual photons. So putting on your QFT spectacles, look ...
27
votes
4answers
3k views

Why does the sky change color? Why the sky is blue during the day, red during sunrise/set and black during the night?

Why does the sky change color? Why the sky is blue during the day, red during sunrise/set and black during the night?
15
votes
2answers
922 views

Why one-dimensional strings, but not higher-dimensional shells/membranes?

One way that I've seen to sort-of motivate string theory is to 'generalize' the relativistic point particle action, resulting in the Nambu-Goto action. However, once you see how to make this ...
13
votes
4answers
8k views

What would the collision of two photons look like?

Could someone explain to me what the collision of two photons would look like? Will they behave like, Electromagnetic waves: they will interfere with each other and keep their wave nature Particles: ...
12
votes
3answers
8k views

Don't understand the integral over the square of the Dirac delta function

In Griffiths' Intro to QM [1] he gives the eigenfunctions of the Hermitian operator $\hat{x}=x$ as being $$g_{\lambda}\left(x\right)~=~B_{\lambda}\delta\left(x-\lambda\right)$$ (cf. last formula on ...
9
votes
2answers
3k views

What does it mean that the universe is “infinite”?

This question is about cosmology and general relativity. I understand the difference between the universe and the observable universe. What I am not really clear about is what is meant when I read ...
35
votes
4answers
6k views

How do we know Dark Matter isn't simply Neutrinos?

What evidence is there that dark matter isn't one of the known types of neutrinos? If it were, how would this be measurable?

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