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.
20
votes
6answers
6k 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
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
763 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
1k 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
433 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
6k 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, ...
21
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
649 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
682 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
5k 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 ...
27
votes
6answers
3k 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
493 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 ...
19
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 ...
15
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 ...
48
votes
13answers
11k 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
1k 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 ...
33
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
1k views

Is acceleration an absolute quantity?

I would like to know if acceleration is an absolute quantity, and if so why?
9
votes
5answers
581 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
653 views

How can we make an order-of-magnitude estimate of the strength of Earth's magnetic field?

The source of Earth's magnetic field is a dynamo driven by convection current in the molten core. Using some basic physics principles (Maxwell's equations, fluid mechanics equations), properties of ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

What new breakthrough energy technologies are close to being realized? [closed]

Energy production is one of the burning issues for humankind. There has been some talk about future energy technologies including Fusion, Anti-matter annihilation and Zero-point-energy (from most to ...
14
votes
9answers
2k views

What are good mechanics experiments for 10 year olds? [closed]

I'm trying to explain elementary mechanics - without the benefits of calculus or even algebra - and struggling. I'd like to find reasonable ways to demonstrate Newton's laws, minimally, and possibly ...
0
votes
3answers
262 views

A force's magnitude

In this question I asked about gravity and in the answers it came up that the magnitude is equal (of the gravity acting on the Sun and the of the gravity acting on the Earth) Does magnitude simply ...
12
votes
2answers
347 views

How are the northern lights produced?

Although I've never seen it myself, I hear the northern lights are a sight to be seen! I know they're related to the Earth's magnetic field but I don't know much more about them. What is the physical ...
12
votes
5answers
904 views

What are some useful ways to imagine the concept of spin as it relates to subatomic particles?

The answers in this question: What is spin as it relates to subatomic particles? do not address some particular questions regarding the concept of spin: How are some useful ways to imagine a ...
4
votes
2answers
474 views

Law for tap water temperature

I was wondering if anyone put together a law to describe the rising temperature of the water coming out of a tap. The setup is fairly simple: there's a water tank at temperature T, a metal tube of ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Boiling water and salt

I would like to have a good understanding of what is happening when you add salt to boiling water. My understanding is that the boiling point will be higher, thus lengthening the process (obtaining ...
4
votes
1answer
124 views

Reference request: statistical inference with real world (chaotic) data, e.g. climate/weather data

I'm interested in the process that goes from, for example, huge data sets of temperature, pressure, precipitation etc readings to a model of the atmosphere. I'd like to know about how much relies on a ...
13
votes
5answers
794 views

Speed of neutrinos

Everyone knows it is close to $c$, but how close? What are the recent results?
6
votes
2answers
595 views

Deuterons can share quantum states, but why it is fine for the protons and neutrons inside?

Deuteron (2H) is composed of a neutron (spin-1/2) and a proton (spin-1/2), with a total spin of 1, which is a boson. Therefore, it is possible for two deuterons to occupy the same quantum state. ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

If the LHC doesn't find the Higgs Boson, what would be the implications for the Standard Model?

What would be the implications to the Standard Model if the Higgs Boson hadn't been found with the LHC? Also, if the Higgs Boson had not been found with the LHC, would it have been successfully ...
2
votes
1answer
572 views

Why is GNUplot so pervasive in Physics when there are much more modern tools? [closed]

First, I want to say upfront that this question need not dissolve into arguments and discussion. This question can and should have a correct answer, please don't respond with your opinions. GNUplot ...
19
votes
2answers
3k views

How does one measure the mass of a galaxy? And other such large quantities

Trained as a pure mathematician, I see claims about the mass of a galaxy and other such huge measurements that are arrived at experimentally, and I just have to scratch my head. I know this is a bit ...
21
votes
7answers
3k views

Is (rest) mass quantized?

I learned today in class that photons and light are quantized. I also remember that electric charge is quantized as well. I was thinking about these implications, and I was wondering if (rest) mass ...
4
votes
1answer
545 views

Mathematica to help for an Hamiltonian problem

I have an Hamiltonian problem whose 2D phase space exhibit islands of stability (elliptic fixed points). I can calculate the area of these islands in some cases, but for other cases I would like to ...
11
votes
9answers
4k 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 ...
9
votes
8answers
13k views

Is gravity a force and if so what is its opposite?

For every force there is an equal force in the opposite direction on another body, correct? So when the Suns gravity acts on Earth where is the opposite and equal force? I also have the same ...
7
votes
1answer
445 views

Production of antiproton at the Tevatron

The Tevatron is a proton-antiproton collider; it collides a beam of protons against a beam of antiproton. I can understand how we obtain the protons, but for the antiprotons ? How are they produced ? ...
5
votes
1answer
238 views

How is it possible to calculate the energy liberated by a given fission process?

How is it possible to calculate the energy liberated by a given fission process? For example, in the fission of a $^{235}$U induced by capturing a neutron?
7
votes
1answer
379 views

Obtaining isotope stability

For a given isotope, one can obtain the binding energy using the semi-empirical mass formula. For example, has a binding energy of 1782.8 MeV. From this information, how can the likelihood of the ...
7
votes
3answers
412 views

What current alternatives are there to the standard concordance model of cosmology?

The current "standard model" or concordance model of cosmology is Lambda CDM which includes late time acceleration due to a cosmological constant, cold dark matter as the missing matter component and ...

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