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85

A short summary of the paper mentioned in another answer and another good site. Basically planes fly because they push enough air downwards and receive an upwards lift thanks to Newton's third law. They do so in a variety of manners, but the most significant contributions are: The angle of attack of the wings, which uses drag to push the air down. This ...


84

This list is pretty rough, but I figured it would be better to post something rather than keep putting it off. If anyone wants to organize the links a little better, that would help. I'm not sure all the questions currently linked actually need to be here, anyway. If you have a question to add, please edit it in. However, make sure of a few things first: ...


56

From Stick and Rudder by Wolfgang Langewiesche, page 9, published 1944: The main fact of all heavier-than-air flight is this: the wing keeps the airplane up by pushing the air down. It shoves the air down with its bottom surface, and it pulls the air down with its top surface; the latter action is the more important. But the really ...


55

I think it's a great question, and enjoyed it very much when I grappled with it myself. Here's a picture of some of the forces in this scenario.$^\dagger$ The ones that are the same colour as each other are pairs of equal magnitude, opposite direction forces from Newton's third law. (W and R are of equal magnitude in opposite directions, but they're acting ...


51

There are zero contradictions between quantum mechanics and special relativity; quantum field theory is the framework that unifies them. General relativity also works perfectly well as a low-energy effective quantum field theory. For questions like the low-energy scattering of photons and gravitons, for instance, the Standard Model coupled to general ...


48

The answer is no. The pole would bend/wobble and the effect at the other end would still be delayed. The reason is that the force which binds the atoms of the pole together - the Electro-Magnetic force - needs to be transmitted from one end of the pole to the other. The transmitter of the EM-force is light, and thus the signal cannot travel faster than the ...


41

The information about the pushes will be received on the other end with the speed of sound in the substance of the pole. For any real mmaterial it is much slower than the speed of light (for a steel rod it would be about 1000 m/s).


40

While you do spend some body energy to keep the book lifted, it's important to differentiate it from physical effort. They are connected but are not the same. Physical effort depends not only on how much energy is spent, but also on how energy is spent. Holding a book in a stretched arm requires a lot of physical effort, but it doesn't take that much ...


37

Since general relativity is a local theory just like any good classical field theory, the Earth will respond to the local curvature which can change only once the information about the disappearance of the Sun has been communicated to the Earth's position (through the propagation of gravitational waves). So yes, the Earth would continue to orbit what ...


30

Since you asked for an explanation appropriate to an non-specialized audience, maybe this will do: "A Physical Description of Flight; Revisited" by David Anderson & Scott Eberhardt. It is a revision of the earlier "A Physical Description of Flight" (HTML version).


29

Simplest, you say? There are two that strike me as being simple to demonstrate. Luckily someone on the internet has already spent some time to help us here to make these easy to illustrate: Shadows differ from place to place: Eratosthenes carried out this experiment to determine the circumference of the Earth, already assuming its spherical shape; ...


28

First, let me emphasize something that is being covered by a thick layer of misinformation in the media these days: it is totally premature to conclude whether the LHC will see SUSY or not. The major detectors have only collected 45/pb (and evaluated 35/pb) of the data. The "slash pb" should be pronounced as "inverse picobarns". The LHC is designed to ...


26

The keywords here are Rayleigh scattering. See also diffuse sky radiation. But much more simply, it has to do with the way that sunlight interacts with air molecules. Blue light is scattered more than red light, so during the day when we look at parts of the sky that are away from the sun, we see more blue than red. During sunset or sunrise, most of the ...


25

The other answers provide a first-order approximation, assuming uniform density (though Adam Zalcman's does allude to deviations from linearity). (Summary: All the mass farther away from the center cancels out, and gravity decreases linearly with depth from 1 g at the surface to zero at the center.) But in fact, the Earth's core is substantially more dense ...


25

This answer is nothing more than a variation of Sklivv's answer. I simply wish to discuss some quantitative ideas following from Sklivv's answer and discuss what I understand (from an aerospace engineering friend) to be a common conceptual mistake - that the application of "mere surface effects" and "application of Bernoulli's principle" is wrong. These ...


22

Gravitational influences do propagate at the speed of light, not instantaneously. The question of what would happen if the Sun instantly disappeared is actually a funny one in general relativity. The equations of general relativity imply as a mathematical consequence that energy must be locally conserved. Therefore, there is no valid solution to the ...


20

This is about how your muscles work -- the're an ensemble of small elements that, triggered by a signal from nerves, use chemical energy to go from less energetical long state to more energetical short one. Yet, this obviously is not permanent and there is spontaneous come back, that must be compensated by another trigger. This way there are numerous ...


17

The surprising answer is that the stability of the modern bicycle has little or nothing to do with centrifugal force or gyroscopes or any of that. Look up "bicycle stability" on Google. Experiments show that the sloped angle of the front fork is very important, e.g. If the fork pointed backwards it is very difficult to stay upright at any speed. At ...


17

The shadow of the Earth on the Moon during an eclipse and the way masts of ships are visible when they are out of sight are the classical reasons.


15

Sure you can! This is actually a simple but very interesting result, and it is usually shown in quantum mechanics courses. It's called the Ehrenfest theorem, and I won't prove it here but I'll copy the result from Sakurai Modern Quantum Mechanics (1991). You can check the mathematical details there, or in many other books. If you have a hamiltonian with the ...


15

Most of the popular science TV programmes and magazine articles give entirely the wrong idea about how the Higgs mechanism works. They tend to give the impression that there is a single Higgs boson that (a) causes particles masses and (b) will be found around 125GeV by the LHC. The mass is generated by the Higgs field. See the Wikipedia article on the Higgs ...


15

All observations are consistent with standard GR so far, but I don't think the speed of gravity, in particular, has ever been measured. Experimental measurements of the speed of gravity was quite a controversy a few years ago when a paper came out claiming that the speed of gravity was very close to $c$ as measured by the Shapiro delay. To see papers on the ...


15

A report appeared in Science today which addresses this exact question: Kooijman et al., Science 332 (6027): 339-342, "A Bicycle Can Be Self-Stable Without Gyroscopic or Caster Effects." The abstract reads: A riderless bicycle can automatically steer itself so as to recover from falls. The common view is that this self-steering is caused by gyroscopic ...


14

1. If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into? The universe isn't expanding into anything. Space-time isn't curving into a higher-dimensional space. So what do we mean by "curved" and "expanding", words usually having a meaning only for objects in space? The answer is it is just an analogy. Mathematicians have found properties of space an ant ...


13

The whirl is due to the net angular momentum the water has before it starts draining, which is pretty much random. If the circulation were due to Coriolis forces, the water would always drain in the same direction, but I did the experiment with my sink just now and observed the water to spin different directions on different trials. The Coriolis force is ...


12

I guess so - I mean, as far as I know, there's no law of physics that strictly prohibits those "exotic" states from being realized. As long as the state exists and can be reached by some path from the "center" of the state space where the likely states are, there should be a nonzero (not even infinitesimal, really) probability of accessing it. But for a ...


12

You can find the shortest and easiest derivation of this result in the paper where it was released by Einstein himself (what better reference can you find?) in 1905. It is not the main paper of Special Relativity, but a short document he added shortly afterwards. A. Einstein,Ist die Trägheit eines Körpers von seinem Energieinhalt Abhängig?, Annalen der ...


11

Matt Reece gives a good answer, but one additional area of tension that seems worth mentioning is the problem of time. The role of time in quantum theory is quite different from general relativity. For a review of some of the issues involved, see Canonical Quantum Gravity and the Problem of Time. C. J. Isham. "Recent Problems in Mathematical Physics", ...


11

Short Answer You've hit upon the quirk that the SI and CGS systems not only measure electric charge with different units, but also assign them different dimensionality. In SI, the Ampere is a base unit. Amperes are not made out of anything else - they are primitive, like meters, kilograms, and seconds. One Ampere is one Coulomb per second, so the unit of ...



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