26
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is the (free) neutron lifetime so long?

A neutron outside the nucleus lives for about 15 minutes and decays mainly through weak decays (beta decay). Many other weakly decaying particles decay with lifetimes between $10^{-10}$ and $10^{-12}$ ...
15
votes
3answers
9k 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 ...
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 ...
11
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
497 views

How do I show that there exists variational/action principle for a given classical system?

We see variational principles coming into play in different places such as Classical Mechanics (Hamilton's principle which gives rise to the Euler-Lagrange equations), Optics (in the form of Fermat's ...
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
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
909 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
814 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
909 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 ...
3
votes
8answers
1k views

Does the (relativistic) mass change? Why?

I learned recently that when an object moves with a velocity comparable to the velocity of light the (relativistic) mass changes. How does this alteration take place?
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Invariance of Lagrangian in Noether's theorem

Often in textbooks Noether's theorem is stated with the assumption that the Lagrangian needs to be invariant $\delta L=0$. However, given a lagrangian $L$, we know that the Lagrangians $\alpha L$ ...
5
votes
5answers
629 views

Does a photon instantaneously gain $c$ speed when emitted from an electron?

An excited electron looses energy in the form of radiations. The radiation constitutes photons which move at a speed $c$. But, is the process of conversion of the energy of the electron into the ...
74
votes
7answers
9k 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 ...
47
votes
10answers
6k 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 ...
100
votes
3answers
24k 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 ...
37
votes
11answers
16k 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 ...
16
votes
11answers
32k 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 ...
22
votes
7answers
5k views

Why do people still talk about bohmian mechanics/hidden variables [closed]

I was reading the Feynman lectures in physics and after thinking about it for a while it seems particularly unreasonable to talk about hidden variables. Let us say that the electron has some internal ...
12
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 ...
12
votes
9answers
6k 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 ...
31
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
28
votes
6answers
13k views

Is there an equation for the strong nuclear force?

The equation describing the force due to gravity is $$F = G \frac{m_1 m_2}{r^2}.$$ Similarly the force due to the electrostatic force is $$F = k \frac{q_1 q_2}{r^2}.$$ Is there a similar equation ...
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 ...
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 ...
17
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Noether theorem and classical proof of electric charge conservation

How to prove conservation of electric charge using Noether's theorem according to classical (non-quantum) mechanics? I know the proof based on using Klein–Gordon field, but that derivation use ...
38
votes
6answers
4k views

If I am travelling on a car at around 60 km/h, and I shine a light, does that mean that the light is travelling faster than the speed of light?

The title says it all. If I was on a bus at 60 km/h, and I started walking on the bus at a steady pace of 5 km/h, then I'd technically be moving at 65 km/h, right? So my son posed me an interesting ...
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 ...
7
votes
5answers
7k views

Recommendations for Statistical Mechanics book

I learned thermodynamics and the basics of statistical mechanics but I'd like to sit through a good advanced book/books. Mainly I just want it to be thorough and to include all the math. And of course ...
24
votes
4answers
2k views

Why does the sky change color?

Why the sky is blue during the day, red during sunrise/set and black during the night?
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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
16answers
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 /mps 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
7answers
1k views

Why do physicists believe that particles are pointlike?

String theory gives physicists reason to believe that particles are 1-dimensional strings because the theory has a purpose - unifying gravity with the gauge theories. So why is it that it's popular ...
17
votes
3answers
4k views

Are tidal power plants slowing down Earth's rotation?

Are tidal power plants slowing down Earth's rotation to the speed of the orbiting moon? (1 rotation per 28 cca days) Are they vice versa increasing the speed of moon orbiting by generating some ...
15
votes
1answer
500 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
4k views

How does rest mass become energy?

I know that there's a difference between relativistic rest mass. Relativistic mass is "acquired" when an object is moving at speeds comparable to the speed of light.Rest mass is the inherent mass that ...
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 ...
4
votes
2answers
337 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
4k views

Why two objects get charged by rubbing?

It is always told as a fact without explaining the reason. Why do two objects get charged by rubbing? Why one object get negative charge and other get positive charge?
1
vote
4answers
844 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? ...
9
votes
2answers
4k views

What was Albert Einstein's proof for $E=mc^2$?

Most people know the famous equation: $$E=mc^2$$ What were his steps of thinking for this equation that helped us discover so much about our world?
2
votes
5answers
669 views

If you shoot a light beam behind the event horizon of a black hole, what happens to the light?

I have a couple of questions about light here, and sorry of they are silly.. So since anything that goes beyond the event horizon can't go out, so what if a light beam was pointed somewhere behind ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Do objects rotate around the torque vector or its center?

If I have an sphere and I have a torque vector coming out of it at point A. Would the sphere rotate around its center or the axis of the torque vector?
5
votes
3answers
11k views

Can the Earth's magnetic be used to generate electricity?

Since the Earth has a magnetic field, can it, in theory, be run through a conductive metal coil to create electricity?
5
votes
3answers
987 views

Why would Antimatter behave differently via Gravity?

Confinement of antihydrogen might help provide a future answer. http://arxiv.org/abs/1104.4982
4
votes
4answers
401 views

Speed of light travel

I have just started special theory of relativity. The limiting speed known as speed of light fascinated me most. I asked my teacher: Consider two massless objects moving in the same direction at ...

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