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121

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 ...


65

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, ...


14

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 ...


13

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

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, ...


9

It most certainly exist outside secret labs :) Like Gerben wrote, the fields are called molecular dynamics (MD) and quantum chemistry which, as computers grow faster, will be essential tools of nanotechnology and medicine. Molecular Dynamics is currently implemented by making certain approximations in that electron motion is not explicitely modelled. In ...


8

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 ...


8

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 ...


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

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

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

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

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 ...


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. ...


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

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

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 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

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

Well, photosynthesis has to do with the absorption of photons to break/make certain bonds. The most classical you can get with this is Bohr's model, nothing prior to that explains absorption of light. Bohr's model is kind of an extremely basic type of quantum mechanics, and anyways it does not work for multielectronic species. Bonds become impossible to ...


4

Suppose your molecule is in a gas. This could be a gas made up just from the molecules you're thinking of, or your molecule could be dispersed in some carrier gas. Whichever the case, the temperature of the gas is related to the velocity of the gas molecules. So in a cool gas the molecules will be moving at some speed (that depends on their mass) and as you ...


4

Your teacher is referring to the LCAO approximation as a way of calculating molecular orbitals. Suppose you bring two hydrogen atoms together i.e. create a hydrogen molecule. To calculate the electronic structure you need to solve the Schrodinger equation, but even for something as simple as the hydrogen molecule the Schrodinger equation is too complex to ...


4

This happens due to cooling affect of evapourisation. As you must be knowing, the temperature of the lquid is a factor of evapourisation. So as the temperature of hot water is more, the rate of evapourisation is also more. Now this is where thwe cooling effect of evapourisation takes place. As the water evapourates, it takes away some heat thus cooling ...


4

To start with, "water freezes faster when it starts out hot" is not terribly precise. There are lots of different experiments you could try, over a huge range of initial conditions, that could all give different results. Wikipedia quotes an article Hot Water Can Freeze Faster Than Cold by Jeng which reviews approaches to the problem up to 2006 and proposes a ...


3

would the same apply to a molecule? That is, given a wavelength, I would think you'd just plug that back into the energy equation...and get an estimate of the size No. In the hydrogen atom, size is the distance of the electron from the proton. In a molecule, size is primarily the relative locations of the nuclei. Especially for large molecules, ...


3

Your friend is, very, very theoretically, right, but the risks on both theoretical grounds and also epidemiological grounds - i.e. microwave ovens have been used by many people for a long time without obvious illnesses showing themselves - are extremely small. There are two ways wherein microwave cooking might "change the molecules": the first They might ...


3

A CO$_2$ molecule is more like 0.5nm long and 0.25nm wide, so you're not going to create your holes with a laser or any imminent development of nanolithography. A better bet would be to grow a crystal with pores of the correct size. For example you could probably find a zeolite with a suitable pore size.



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