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153

For organic matter, such as bread and human skin, cutting is a straightforward process because cells/tissues/proteins/etc can be broken apart with relatively little energy. This is because organic matter is much more flexible and the molecules bind through weak intermolecular interactions such as hydrogen bonding and van der Waals forces. For inorganic ...


82

Wow, this one has been over-answered already, I know... but it is such a fun question! So, here's an answer that hasn't been, um, "touched" on yet... :) You, sir, whatever your age may be (anyone with kids will know what I mean), have asked for an answer to one of the deepest questions of quantum mechanics. In the quantum physics dialect of High Nerdese, ...


41

I'll do that teacher thing and turn your question around back at you. Why isn't the spectrum of the lithium atom just the spectrum of the hydrogen atom plus the spectrum of the helium atom? And, for that matter, why is the helium spectrum not simply two copies, somehow, of the hydrogen spectrum? Why do atoms have unique spectra in the first place? The ...


17

It depends on what's being cut. When metal is cut, what happens is that, on a small or not so small scale, it shears. That means layers slide over each other. The mechanism by which they slide over each other is that there are imperfections in the crystal structure called dislocations, and the crystal layers can move by making the dislocations move in the ...


15

The energy levels of a diatomic molecule are $E = 2B, 6B, 12B$ and so on, where $B$ is: $$ B = \frac{\hbar^2}{2I} $$ Most of the mass of the molecule is in the nuclei, so when calculating the moment of inertia $I$ we can ignore the electrons and just use the nuclei. But the size of the nuclei is around $10^{-5}$ times smaller than the bond length. This ...


15

Common sense of touching can be expressed in "scientific means" as an event when exchange-repulsion interaction between 2 objects (you and the geek) extends some arbitrary value, say 1meV. I leave finding an agreeable threshold which is easy to measure to later discussion. :)


10

As a useable heuristic I would go with something along the lines of the intermolecular forces between the surface molecules of the bodies are comparable to the scale of one-to-one intermolecular forces between nearby{*} molecules due to other components of the same body You could make it a little more strict by replacing "comparable to" with ...


10

Your body is warmer than the surrounding air and as such when heat escapes from your body it warms up that air; if it didn't, you would have overheated years ago. However, if the air isn't moving, that air around you begins to warm up. Heat transfer is faster if the temperature difference is greater. What wind does is move that warm air away, and replace ...


10

The red, orange, yellow, and white parts of a candle flame results from glowing soot. The color in this part of the flame is indicative of the temperature. The spectrum in this part of the flame is fairly close to that of a black body. The blue part of the candle flame at the bottom of the flame results from chemiluminescence. Chemiluminescence is not black ...


10

This answer I once gave for What does it mean for two objects to "touch"? discusses what touching even means. It's not a direct answer to your question, but I think it may help you view the issue in a different way. Warning: It's one of my long, talky answers that some people love and others hate. The physics in it is accurate (and for many folks, ...


10

Molecules aren't just sums over their constituent atoms. There's many different kinds of bonds which involve different patterns in the overlap of electron orbitals, and which affect the energy levels those electrons can occupy - I'm assuming the QP video you watched explained how "color" relates to electron energy levels. The (hydrogen-like-)atom case is ...


7

The tangy taste of sodas comes from an acid in them. In most sodas, it's carbonic acid: ${\rm H}_2{\rm CO}_3$. Under pressure, like in a sealed can of soda at room temperature and usual pressure, the equilibrium reached keeps this molecule together. Once you open the can of soda, the lowered pressure inside the can "allows" this molecule to break apart ...


6

I wish there was an easy answer, but this is actually somewhat complicated, and to some extent is more art than science. There are several simple models that are used to predict molecular geometry, one of the most common is the VESPR model. Based on this model, one can begin to perform calculations of energy associated with different vibrational modes of ...


6

A transistor is not simply a combination of diodes. A bipolar junction transistor is a complex device consisting of three layers of differently doped semiconductor. If a current is pumped through the base-emitter juction, there will be several times greater collector-emitter current because of the increased amount of minority carriers in the base region. ...


5

You have one 1s atomic orbital for each H atom, and one 1s, 2s and three 2p for each C. This makes a total of 36 atomic orbital in the whole molecule, and so you have 72 spin states. The 2s and 2p's orbitals are going to hibridate giving three 2sp$^2$ orbitals and one 2p orbital, so it has its characteristic $\pi$-delocalized electronic estructure on the ...


5

It depends on the mass of the molecule in question. Here's a quick, back-of-the-envelope answer. In a body at thermal equilibrium, every energy mode has the same average amount of energy, $\frac12kT$, where $T$ is temperature and $k$ is Boltzmann's constant. One of the energy modes is the translational kinetic energy of a molecule in some direction $x$, ...


5

In the book "Physics of the Plasma Universe" Dr. Anthony Peratt puts candle flames near the bottom of "energy in electronvolts" portion of the 'plasma spectrum'. If you look at the chart below, you'll see candles flames about midway (ok, cosmologically) between the ends: solar bodies and laser radiation terrestrial flames interstellar charged gases ...


5

Yes, without gravity, the gas fill out the space evenly so you can get uniform distribution of gas. Certainly, it only occurs at thermodynamic equilibrium, that is, if you wait for a long time. With gravity, the density would be higher at location of lower gravitational potential. If we can treat the gas as ideal gas, then each gas molecule is independent ...


5

Qualitatively, the Morse potential has two competing effects. The first is at small separations, where the potential becomes (infinitely) large; this effect is roughly due to the electrostatic repulsion between the two atoms, and it increases as the atoms get closer together. On the other hand, two atoms may covalently bond, and generally speaking, the ...


5

Molecules vibrate with frequencies in the range 10$^{12}$ to 10$^{14}$Hz. Although I don't know of any strict definition, I would take the view that a molecule must hold together for a few vibrations otherwise what you have is a collision not a molecule. That means the lifetime must be greater than 10$^{-14}$ to 10$^{-12}$ seconds, depending on the molecule. ...


5

By heating any substance to a sufficiently high temperature it will decompose into its constituent atoms because chemical bonds do not survive the inter-atomic movements between the nuclei, at these temperatures. That part of quantum physics we usually call Chemistry thus has a fairly limited temperature window: very broadly speaking (because it depends ...


4

The answer is that color is determined by electron transitions between different energy states. Those levels are different in molecules than they are in the component atoms where there is only a central force in atoms, whereas the multiple positive charges in molecules creates a more complex potential field for the electrons to move around within. Molecules ...


4

I think it is a mistake, as often happens in popularizations of science. A water or any molecule may lose kinetic energy and acquire potential energy, but it is the kinetic energy distribution that gives the temperature of an ensemble of molecules. The shape of the distribution shows that there will always be individual molecules at very high energy , in ...


4

The point is that when there is only a single phase there is no dividing surface that could hold any surface tension. One has surface tension precisely when a liquid and a gas phase (in general also two liquid phases would be possible) are present simultaneously. This holds only along the coexistence curve in the lower left corner of your phase diagram. ...


4

The approximation that we all started out learning is the linear combination of atomic orbitals (LCAO) approach. The molecular wavefunction, $\Psi$, can be expressed as a sum of some set of basis functions: $$ \Psi(\vec{r}) = \sum_n f_n(\vec{r}) $$ and a convenient set of basis functions is the atomic orbitals of hydrogen. As a starting point we could take ...


4

Actually, it's more complicated than that. If you want to generate one of these plots (an accurate one), you would need to solve the Schrodinger equation for the two atom system. There's various methods and approximations to do this, but once you have, you will find that the potential energy is a function of distance, and it just so happens there is a ...


4

No, because the atoms in steel and plastic have different masses. Your example is a bit more complicated than it need be because steel (well iron) is an element while plastic is a compound. This complicates things because molecules can have internal motions that contribute to the energy. A better comparision might be between lead and lithium. These are both ...


4

It does not work like that. The wave function of 6 electrons is the product, not the sum, of orbitals (wave functions of single electrons). However, since electrons are fermions the overall wave function must be antisymmetric. Thus, the simplest wave function that you can write for the 6 electron-benzene approximation (in the spirit of the H\"uckel method) ...


4

This is very legitimate question for something we usually take for granted. I think it would be possible to define macroscopically touching as the situation, in which the total force between two electrically neutral rigid bodies is larger than pure gravitational (for some measurable value). The difference is of course the normal component of the surface ...


4

In answer to the title question, "yes, but...." (it's not practical and the effect is too small to be noticed in the sort of situation you describe) 1 - whatever energy you use to stir the water, ends up as heat pretty soon (which raises the temperature) 2 - it is a good idea to develop an intuitive feel for the magnitude of mechanical versus heat energy. ...



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