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39

At the physics 101 level, you pretty much just have to accept this as an experimental fact. At the upper division or early grad school level, you'll be introduced to Noether's Theorem, and we can talk about the invariance of physical law under displacements in time. Really this just replaces one experimental fact (energy is conserved) with another (the ...


17

No, physics is not rigorous in the sense of mathematics. There are standards of rigor for experiments, but that is a different kind of thing entirely. That is not to say that physicists just wave their hands in their arguments [only sometimes ;) ], but rather that it does not come even close to a formal axiomatized foundation like in mathematics. Here's an ...


14

It works with a lot of body parts. It will work with a piece of wire too. This keys work at about 433 Mhz, a resonant Lamda/4 antenna is about 18 cm. Obviously the whole key is shorter, the antanna is not tuned for maximum power transmission. By bringing the key close to some conductive material, the power transmitted increases. A very recondite answer ...


13

1.) Find something that interests you. The secret to learning is to do something you can be passionate about. For one person it may be building metal detectors (cicuits etc.) and another may be more interested in string theory or crystal physics. Explore your local library's physics section. 2.) Become competent in the area that interests you. Thomas ...


9

Vectors are probably the most important tool to learn in all of physics and engineering. Some random examples: Classical Mechanics: Block sliding down a ramp: You need to calculate the force of gravity (a vector down), the normal force (a vector perpendicular to the ramp), and a friction force (a vector opposite the direction of motion). E&M: Electric ...


8

The proposed partition of physics into Thermodynamics, Classical Mechanics, and Quantum Mechanics is quite arbitrary. To take just one conspicuous example, statistical mechanics does not fit, as it is the discipline that mediates between these three areas of physics. The Physics and Astronomy Classification Scheme (PACS) ...


8

I basically agree with Argus, though I take a slightly different perspective. Physicists try to explain the world by constructing mathematical models to approximate it. The phrase mathematical model can sound mysterious, but it just means an equation or equations that predict what's going to happen given some initial conditions. For example Newton's laws of ...


7

The bodies internal electrical resistance is quite low. Bodily fluids have enough ions (dissolved salts mainly) for the conductance to be high. The thin layer of skin provides almost all of the resistance. Once the skin resistance is overcome (by wetting, or for higher voltages arcing), the low internal resistance dominates. So for instance, how good a ...


7

The learning time problem affects everybody, physics is intimidating because to learn it, you have to recapitulate the history, there's no underlying axiomatic system to deduce from. On 't Hooft's website, you will find a self-study guide put together for this purpose. It should get you started, and I don't think I can improve on 't Hooft. But if you know ...


7

A few more here: Fractional quantum hall effects: had heard that the large magnetic field is originally aimed to see the Wigner crystal effect, instead of testing quantum hall physics. Asymptotic freedom (QCD running couplings to small at high energy): from Wilczek's book ``Longing for the Harmonies,'' at that time David Gross originally aimed to prove ...


7

This is obviously a very broad question, but here are a few thoughts that may be helpful. As dmckee points out in a comment, it's difficult to define consciousness. However, consciousness clearly requires computation, and computation is something that physics can address. There is a psychological arrow of time: we can remember the past but not the future. ...


6

Physics is usually not rigorous. But there is a branch of physics, called mathematical physics, in which physics is treated with full mathematical rigor. There everything begins with formally stated assumptions (axioms) from which everything else is rigorously deduced. In particular, there are fully rigorous treatments of phenomenological thermodynamics ...


6

Just a note in addition to the advice being given here is this: ACTUALLY DO THE PROBLEMS. Like on pen and paper. Do not under any circumstances look at a solution and go "Oh yeah, I get this. Next!" That is absolute bull and what many, many people who attempt to self-study physics end up trying and why a lot of them fail. It is very easy to skip on the ...


6

The world is a very complicated place, so to understand it physicists use two strategies: use an approximation that simplifies the world study only a limited part of the world For example, to understand the motion of the solar system to pretty good accuracy you just need Newton's laws of motion and gravity, as learned by generations of schoolchildren. ...


6

The Stern-Gerlach Experiment: originally setting out to corroborate the Bohr-Sommerfield hypothesis that the direction of the angular momentum of an atom is quantized, it was eventually realized that the proper interpretation of the observations was as the first evidence of particle spin and that the electron is a spin-1/2 particle. The Spin-Statistics ...


6

You start by starting the process. It really doesn't matter all that much how you start, only that you start. Go to the library, look through some books, etc. At first, you'll find much of what you read opaque. But, in a short time, you'll start connecting some dots and then more and then more still. You'll revisit material that was initially ...


6

Depends on what you mean by "sense" for technology. Condensed matter physics is the obvious answer, but that's partly because there are more condensed matter physicists than any other sort (particle physics gets all the press, but the condensed matter division of the APS is the largest). A great many of those people are employed in industry, so it's an area ...


6

A friend sent this as his explanation and it seems quite satisfactory to me: For a balloon to fly in a straight line, the direction of the jet of expelled air would have to be in line with the balloon’s centre of mass and its centre of drag – the point where the forces resisting the balloon’s forward motion are symmetrical If these two centres don’t ...


5

This doesn't match your stated interests, but the things you talk about are generally well established fields with an enormous history, and it generally takes longer to get to the forefront of research in such areas. If you can code, there is the interesting problem of classical turbulence. It is wide open as mathematics and as physics, and there is a ...


5

If you make a cardboard tube, put this into the ballons nozzle and then let go you'll find the balloon goes in a mostly straight line. It probably won't go exactly straight because the balloon probably isn't exactly cylindrically symmetrical, but it will go a lot straighter than without the cardboard tube. I recall doing this in primary school long before ...


5

OK, this is for experimental high energy physics as I worked in the field for over 40 years. There are groups in institutions, universities and research ones. There are many such in each country, and there are many countries. The group leaders in the group decide who signs a paper, mainly by the man hours put in the construction and running of the ...


5

We have observed that the underlying level of nature is quantum mechanical. Quantum means "a definite quantity" of something so definite quantities can be counted and so integral numbers play a role : a) in the number of particles , in the number of energy levels characterized by quantum numbers ( i.e. integer numbers).b) There are the fields which are ...


5

Welcome to physics.SE! There doesn't seem to be much in the book that is really outdated; mechanics hasn't changed much since 1967. However, I would not recommend this book for self-study. It doesn't have any homework problems, and has very few examples. For self-study, you really need a book with problems as well as answers and/or complete solutions (or at ...


4

The first attempts at formulating a model of nature had no numbers in it. Numbers is the province of mathematics. Arithmetic was created really when bartering became necessary as communities became larger and larger and a number system was needed to keep a fair track of who owes what to whom, as you say. It is arithmetic that was the start of mathematics. ...


4

Discovery of X-rays: it happened when Röngten discovered that some photographic plates received radiation even if they were unexposed.


4

I'm more with Dilaton than John Rennie here and I think the answer is kind of obvious, but you should take heed that a much greater thinker than I doesn't think so: see Wigner's famous article. Now that you've been duly warned: in a nutshell mathematics can be thought of as the language one must naturally speak when trying to describe something objectively ...


4

It's getting to the point where building nanoscale devices is commercially practical, so maybe nanophotonics, nanomaterials, nanofluid dynamics, nanoengineering, nanomechanics (?), etc. This area may be very important for practical quantum computing, but there are many much nearer applications. And some of these are being studied in engineering departments ...


4

I think Shor is in part right about nano-scaled technology. This was something Feynman wrote about in 1960! This is a fascinating talk he have http://www.zyvex.com/nanotech/feynman.html The future of technology probably follows three rules. The first rule I call the stone-tool rule. The second is historical continuity, and the third is what I call the ...


4

The number of SI units is not at all fundamental to nature: the natural Planck units are the fundamental things. But at low energies, large systems, and slow speeds, there are scaling laws that allow you to pick three units arbitrarily. This is why humans think they get to pick three arbitrary scales. This is false, but it seems true from our experience. An ...


4

Like you, I want to self-teach myself physics, yet here I am still at around the same stage I was a few years back. Why? Because to learn physics effectively, I need to be immersed in it for days, weeks, months even years at a time. I also need to be coached by good teachers and peers that can steer me in the right direction, and prevent me from being lead ...



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