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74

Your intuition is good, but you're mixing up some quantum and classical phenomena. In classical (i.e. non-quantum) physics, a vacuum is a region of space with no matter. You can have electromagnetic fields in a vacuum, so long as the charges creating the fields are in a different region. By the same token you can have gravitational fields in a vacuum, ...


49

By popular demand (considering two to be popular — thanks @Rod Vance and @Love Learning), I'll expand a bit on my comment to @Kieran Hunt's answer: Thermal equilibrium As I said in the comment, the notion of sound in space plays a very significant role in cosmology: When the Universe was very young, dark matter, normal ("baryonic") matter, and light ...


36

From the ideal gas law, we know: $$ v_\textrm{sound} = \sqrt{\frac{\gamma k_\textrm{B} T}{m}} $$ Assuming that interstellar space is heated uniformly by the CMB, it will have a temperature of $2.73\textrm{K}$. We know that most of this medium comprises protons and neutral hydrogen atoms at a density of about 1 atom/cc. This means that $\gamma = 5/3$, and ...


33

$$\sin(x) = x-\frac{x^3}{3!} + trigonometric\;fluctuations$$ Above you can see why I don't like the language of "quantum fluctuations" -- what people mean by them is just "terms in perturbation series that we can make classical sense of". Similarly the phrase ... particles pop in and out of existence... Is a yet another naive attempt of describing ...


27

Don't forget that the aeroplane will be moving forward, so it's not relying on a vacuum filling ahead of the propellor to supply the latter with air. Now I daresay there are good engineering reasons why propellors are not efficient and even impracticable for supersonic flight, but I don't think there is a fundamental physics theoretical reason ruling them ...


26

Why is space a vacuum ? Because, given enough time, gravity tends to make matter clump together. Events like supernovae that spread it out again are relatively rare. Also space is big. Maybe someone could calculate the density if visible matter were evenly distributed in visible space. I imagine it would be pretty thin. (Later) Space is big. Really ...


25

There have actually been cases of (accidental!) exposure to near-vacuum conditions. Real life does not conform to what you see in the movies. (Well, it depends on the movie; Dave Bowman's exposure to vacuum in 2001 was pretty accurate.) Long-term exposure, of course, is deadly, but you could recover from an exposure of, say, 15-30 seconds. You don't ...


25

When a bell vibrates in air, it pushes air molecules out of the way which will make the vibrations "decay". If you strike a bell in vacuum, this loss mechanism will not be there so the bell will "ring" for longer (but nobody can hear it). This doesn't mean the initial amplitude is significantly greater - just that it persists longer. Obviously if you rang ...


25

Just want to bring up that most answers seem to be taking "space" to be a nice uniform medium. However, even within our own galaxy, conditions vary wildly. Here are the most common environments in the Milky Way: Molecular Clouds, $\rho\sim 10^4\,{\rm atom}/{\rm cm}^3$, $T\sim 10\,{\rm K}$ Cold Neutral Medium, $\rho\sim 20\,{\rm atom}/{\rm cm}^3$, $T\sim ...


24

I don't understand the difference between the first and the second question, but the answer is "No, you don't need air for the clothes to dry". In fact, it will dry faster if in vacuum, because the water will start to boil in zero pressure, even if the temperature is not 100º C. In fact, at zero pressure, water cannot exist in liquid, but will evaporate if ...


20

The energy is borrowed from the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to create virtual particles and has to be paid back in a very short time. $\Delta{t} \geq \frac{\hbar}{2\Delta{E}}$ This is why virtual particles live for very short times (i.e pop in and out of existence). We cannot manipulate this energy.


20

You aren't creating a vacuum, but you are reducing the pressure in your lungs when you inhale. In effect your lungs are working as a diaphragm pump. When you pull your diaphragm down, and/or expand your chest, this increases the volume inside your lungs. Boyle's law tells us: $$ P_0V_0 = P_{\rm inhale}V_{\rm inhale} ,$$ where $P_0$ and $V_0$ are ambient ...


19

Yes. That is the operating principle of this device, among many others:


19

In practice, no. In theory, also no. The Universe is filled with photons with an energy distribution corresponding to 2.73 K. Every cm$^3$ of space holds around 400-500 of them. That means that if you place your "stable body" in an ever-so-isolated box, the box itself will never come below 2.73 K, and neither will the body inside. It will asymptotically go ...


17

Not physically, but practically there are (currently) better alternatives. The limiting issue with propellers is similar to the limiting issue with helicopters: propellers work like wing sections in that they must accelerate flow to work; when you're near the speed of sound, this means you are going to cause shocks to form, and this issue is particularly ...


17

The graviton is the hypothetical gauge boson associated with the gravitational field. I say hypothetical because it is far from clear whether gravity can be described by a quantum field theory, so it isn't clear whether gravitons are a useful description. In any case, you should not take the notion of virtual particles like the graviton too seriously. have ...


17

$|0\rangle$ is just a quantum state that happens to be labeled by the number 0. It's conventional to use that label to denote the ground state (or vacuum state), the one with the lowest energy. But the label you put on a quantum state is actually kind of arbitrary. You could choose a different convention in which you label the ground state with, say, 5, and ...


16

$|0\rangle$ is a particular nonzero vector in the Hilbert space associated with this system. That vector is nonzero -- in fact, it's usually normalized to have magnitude 1. The 0 on the right refers to the zero vector in the Hilbert space. So they're quite different. For one thing, $|0\rangle$ is a possible state for a particle to be in. 0 isn't (since only ...


16

Strictly speaking vacuum is the state of lowest energy. That means no matter or radiation (photons or any other particles). Note that space is not a perfect vacuum. Also note that, technically, a gas of planets and comets etc. has a pressure (there is usually little reason to care about it though). There is also radiation pressure due to the photons. ...


16

Albert Einstein rather famously said The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once. and John Wheeler added Space is what prevents everything from happening to me! Now, those quotes may sound silly and self-referential, but they are meant to draw you attention to something very, very basic. Things do happen at different ...


14

Whether you can extract energy from this or not (and I strongly suspect not) the Casimir effect is a consequence of vacuum fluctuations. Essentially when two metallic plates are very close to each other, the wavelengths of virtual particles that can be created between the plates is restricted and hence there are fewer particles between the plates and ...


14

If you simply held a cup upside down in zero gravity, the liquid ought not to pour out. However, things in zero gravity still obey Newton's laws. If you pull away the cup, the water ought to stay behind. In reality, a sudden move of the cup would create a lower pressure behind the water than in front so the air pressure would try to keep it in the cup, but ...


13

Meson Production A significant contribution to forward, production of pions and other mesons is the knock-on of quark-pairs from the nucleon sea. Reactions like $$ e^- + p \to e^- + \pi^+ + \text{undetected hadronic junk} \,.$$ For one of many more technical set of discussions, see the $f_\pi$ collaboration's papers:1 http://inspirehep.net/record/535171 ...


12

Freeze it in liquid helium. Any gas inside will condense out. Spin it quickly then stop it. The internal turbulence of the spinning gas will be visible with a sensitive detector. Apply a short sharp impact to one side. If there is gas inside, the sound energy peak from the sound transiting the gas will be temporally distinct from the spectrum of the sound ...


12

The boiling water is converting liquid water to gas. Unless this gas is continually removed by the pump, it quickly increases the pressure inside the vessel. This increased pressure will stop the boiling. Setting a lid on the jar gives it a one-way valve. Gas can still escape. If you instead put on a full seal so that gas cannot escape, then it will ...


11

The biggest, immediate problem with "openning the door" of a spacecraft is not that you would die immediately from exposure to the vacuum of space: you don't - you have of the order of minutes to do something about it. The problem is the violent outrush of air. User rob offers this answer to the Physics SE question Do airlocks in space decompress violently ...


11

our lab has an ultra-high vacuum stm system (10-11 torr), and all parts that go in the vacuum system has to be extremely clean. Here is what we do: first i want to point out that the material you use for UHV is very important too. The commonly accepted material is 316 stainless steel and oxygen free pure copper. For other specialized material, you should ...


11

1) Most materials you use in everyday life contain far more moisture than you might believe. This is a major reason materials meant to be exposed to space are specially designed and tested. In a general vacuum, most fabrics and many plastic will outgas - all of the absorbed moisture and oils will work their way to the surface and boil off - which is a major ...


11

First: Whether the metastable region is acceptable is somewhat debatable. I think that most experts would say No. Even if the tunneling may be very slow, one would have to explain why the Universe started in a configuration whose energy is very far from the minimum, in a metastable valley. There are other papers that already put the observed mass to the ...


11

As I recall from Susskind's course, there is no actual vacuum in string theory. There are some pieces of information, which can be helpful, like terminology developed for 2 decades. Please, note the dates. String theory is believed to have a huge number of vacua — the so-called string theory landscape. Terminology starting from almost nothing: "In ...



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