14
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

Reason for the discreteness arising in quantum mechanics?

What is the most essential reason that actually leads to the quantization. I am reading the book on quantum mechanics by Griffiths. The quanta in the infinite potential well for e.g. arise due to the ...
18
votes
3answers
10k views

Your Mass is NOT from Higgs Boson

Your Mass is NOT from Higgs Boson? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ztc6QPNUqls This guy can't be correct, right? He argues that because mostly of a nucleus' mass is made out of the space between ...
26
votes
5answers
4k views

Why isn't Higgs coupling considered a fifth fundamental force?

When I first learned about the four fundamental forces of nature, I assumed that they were just the only four kind of interactions there were. But after learning a little field theory, there are many ...
23
votes
10answers
8k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
373 views

Are all scattering states un-normalizable?

I am an undergraduate studying quantum physics with the book of Griffiths. in 1-D problems, it said a free particle has un-normalizable states but normalizable states can be obtained by sum up the ...
8
votes
17answers
2k views

The origin of the value of speed of light

Meaning, why is it the exact number that it is? Why not 2x10^8 m/s instead of 3? Does it have something to do with the mass, size or behavior of a photon? To be clear, I'm not asking "how we ...
8
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
2k 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 $\hbar$ ...
10
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
897 views

Why do all the planets of the solar system orbit in roughly the same 2D plane?

Most images you see of the solar system are 2D and all planets orbit in the same plane. In a 3D view, are really all planets orbiting in similar planes? Is there a reason for this? I'd expect that ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Force applied off center on an object

Assume there is a rigid body in deep space with mass $m$ and moment of inertia $I$. A force that varies with time, $F(t)$, is applied to the body off-center at a distance $r$ from its center of mass. ...
15
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
929 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

How is Gauss' Law (integral form) arrived at from Coulomb's Law, and how is the differential form arrived at from that?

On a similar note: when using Gauss' Law, do you even begin with Coulomb's law, or does one take it as given that flux is the surface integral of the Electric field in the direction of the normal to ...
1
vote
2answers
302 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 ...
207
votes
20answers
71k views

A mirror flips left and right, but not up and down

Why is it that when you look in the mirror left and right directions appear flipped, but not the up and down?
48
votes
10answers
7k views

Can Maxwell's equations be derived from Coulomb's Law and Special Relativity?

As an exercise I sat down and derived the magnetic field produced by moving charges for a few contrived situations. I started out with Coulomb's Law and Special Relativity. For example, I derived the ...
107
votes
3answers
25k 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 ...
33
votes
9answers
4k 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, ...
17
votes
11answers
38k 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 ...
40
votes
5answers
3k views

Scattering of light by light: experimental status

Scattering of light by light does not occur in the solutions of Maxwell's equations (since they are linear and EM waves obey superposition), but it is a prediction of QED (the most significant Feynman ...
17
votes
7answers
8k views

How to learn physics effectively and efficiently [closed]

How do you effectively study physics? How does one read a physics book instead or just staring at it for hours? (Apologies in advance if the question is ill-posed or too subjective in its current ...
33
votes
1answer
5k 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 ...
24
votes
6answers
2k views

Why do we still need to think of gravity as a force?

Firstly I think shades of this question have appeared elsewhere (like here, or here). Hopefully mine is a slightly different take on it. If I'm just being thick please correct me. We always hear ...
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 ...
13
votes
5answers
24k views

What is the math knowledge necessary for starting Quantum Mechanics?

Could someone experienced in the field tell me what the minimal math knowledge one must obtain in order to grasp the introductory Quantum Mechanics book/course? I do have math knowledge but I must ...
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 ...
19
votes
4answers
7k views

Is spacetime discrete or continuous?

Is the spacetime continuous or discrete? Or better, is the 4-dimensional spacetime of general-relativity discrete or continuous? What if we consider additional dimensions like string theory ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Schrodinger equation from Klein-Gordon?

One can view QM as a 1+0 dimensional QFT, fields are only depending on time and so are only called operators, and I know a way to derive Schrodinger's equation from Klein-Gordon's one. Assuming a ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

Why is there a $\frac 1 2$ in $\frac 1 2 mv^2$?

For elastic collisions of n particles, we know that momentum in the three orthogonal directions are independently conserved:$$ \frac{d}{dt}\sum\limits_i^n m_iv_{ij} =0,\quad j=1,2,3$$ From this, it ...
17
votes
2answers
4k views

Is the “How to break the speed of light” minute physics video wrong?

I am referring to this video, on YouTube, by minutephysics, which has quite a lot of views. In the video it states that if you flick your wrist while pointing a laser that reaches the moon, that the ...
13
votes
2answers
843 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

What has been proved about the big bang, and what has not?

Ok so the universe is in constant expansion, that has been proven, right? And that means that it was smaller in the past.. But what's the smallest size we can be sure the universe has ever had? I ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

Define Pressure at A point. Why is it a Scalar?

I have a final exam tomorrow for fluid mechanics and I was just looking over the practice exam questions. They do not provide solutions. But pretty much I have to define pressure at a point and also ...
11
votes
4answers
7k 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: ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Noticing that Newtonian gravity and electrostatics are equivalent, is there also a relationship between the general relativity and electrodynamics?

In classical mechanics, we had Newton's law of gravity $F \propto \frac{Mm}{r^2}$. Because of this, all laws of classical electrostatics applied to classical gravity if we assumed that all charges ...
2
votes
1answer
981 views

Why path integral approach may suffer from operator ordering problem?

In Assa Auerbach's book (Ref. 1), he gave an argument saying that in the normal process of path integral, we lose information about ordering of operators by ignoring the discontinuous path. What did ...
13
votes
3answers
5k views

Why does the moon drift away from earth?

I once saw on TV that the moon is slowly drifting away from the earth, something like an inch a year. In relation to that the day on earth what also increase in time. I wonder why is that?
9
votes
3answers
2k views

How can a quasar be 29 billion light-years away from Earth if Big Bang happened only 13.8 billion years ago? [duplicate]

I was reading through the Wikipedia article on Quasars and came across the fact that the most distant Quasar is 29 Billion Light years. This is what the article exactly says The highest redshift ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there an accepted analogy/conceptual aid for the Higgs field?

Is there an accepted analogy / conceptual aid for the Higgs field? In Physics there are many accepted conceptual aids such as * Schrödinger's cat * Maxwell's Demon * I'm sure I'm missing ...
12
votes
4answers
956 views

Temperature below absolute zero?

I saw this Nature article today, which cites e.g. arXiv:1211.0545. And it makes no sense to me. The temperature of a collection of particles is the average kinetic energy of those particles. Kinetic ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

What's so special about the speed of light? [duplicate]

What's so special about the speed of light? Why do many equations in physics include the speed of light in vacuum $c$? Why do so many thing depend upon it? Why can't it be the speed of sound? ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Does a moving object curve space-time as its velocity increases?

We always hear how gravity bends space-time; why shouldn't velocity? Consider a spaceship traveling through space at a reasonable fraction of the speed of light. If this spaceship, according to ...
77
votes
7answers
10k views

Why do people categorically dismiss some simple quantum models?

Deterministic models. Clarification of the question: The problem with these blogs is that people are inclined to start yelling at each other. (I admit, I got infected and it's difficult not to raise ...
105
votes
7answers
12k 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 ...
37
votes
11answers
17k views

How did Newton discover his second law?

I've always assumed/been told that Newton's 2nd law is an empirical law — it must be discovered by experiment. If this is the case, what experiments did Newton do to discover this? Is it related to ...
18
votes
8answers
3k views

Deterministic quantum mechanics

I came across a very recent paper by Gerard 't Hooft The abstract says: It is often claimed that the collapse of the wave function and Born's rule to interpret the square of the norm as a ...

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