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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

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 ...


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 ...


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

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

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 ...


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 ...


9

Pour? No such thing without gravity. In NASA TV (see video), I saw the prototype coffee cups. They are shaped with a sharp crease, to allow liquid to ride up the groove. More advanced product would also mix waxy and wettable surfaces to keep it stuck to the inside of the cup but not crawl over the brim, except at the sip line. The pictures are hard to ...


8

I think the key conceptual hurdle is that the vacuum state is not nothing. Quantum field theory describes matter as excitations in quantum fields. These quantum fields are very strange things, and I don't know of any easy way to explain to a non-physicist what a quantum field is. The key thing is that the quantum fields fill all of spacetime. So a vacuum is ...


8

Let us look at the instantons of an ordinary pure Yang-Mills theory for gauge group $G$ in four Euclidean dimensions: An instanton is a local minimum of the action $$ S_{YM}[A] = \int \mathrm{tr}(F \wedge \star F)$$ which is, on $\mathbb{R}^4$, precisely given by the (anti-)self-dual solutions $F = \pm \star F$. For (anti-)self-dual solutions, ...


8

I take your question as Is there any substance with condensed (solid or liquid) equilibrium phase at zero pressure? No, because of statistical physics. Let's consider two things. (1) The potential energy of interaction between molecules. (2) The thermal energy distribution for molecules. The potential energy of interaction can generally be of any ...


7

It means it's "the end of the line". The vacuum state is, as you correctly say, not the zero state. It has energy content, and physical meaning - it's the state with no particles. Annihilating the vacuum leaves...nothing. Trying to take a particle out of it is not possible - it gives you the zero vector, which does not represent a physical state, since it is ...


7

Particles do not constantly appear out of nothing and disappear shortly after that. This is simply a picture that emerged from taking Feynman diagrams literally. Calculating the energy of the ground state of the field, i.e. the vacuum, involves calculating its so-called vacuum expectation value. In perturbation theory, you achieve this by adding up Feynman ...


7

You need to consider that space is filled with a tenuous plasma, which behaves slightly differently to an ideal gas. First, the electrons will carry sound at a different rate to the heavier protons, but also, the electrons and protons are coupled via the electric field. See: Speed (of sound) in plasma The speed of sound in the solar wind is estimated at ...


7

I think when you say "no air" you mean "no wind" In modern greek too "air" can mean "wind" and and also the content of the atmosphere. So if you hang clothes in the same sun but with no wind to supply convection, the clothes will try slower than when a wind is blowing, due to convection. Convection replaces the saturated air close to the clothes with ...


6

Ever since Newton and the use of mathematics in physics, physics can be defined as a discipline where nature is modeled by mathematics. One should have clear in mind what nature means and what mathematics is. Nature we know by measurements and observations. Mathematics is a self consistent discipline with axioms, theorems and statements having absolute ...


6

You are simply confusing vacuum with "nothingness", which is a philosophical concept. You can check the definition at wiki Vacuum is space that is devoid of matter. The word stems from the Latin adjective vacuus for "vacant" or "void". An approximation to such vacuum is a region with a gaseous pressure much less than atmospheric pressure.[1] ...


6

people in spaceships opening doors and closing them again with no suits on. Is it possible in "real life" No, it is not. Any sane engineer will build doors that open inward, or have latches that over-center when closed so it is simply impossible to open an airlock in a pressurized vessel. An aircraft, for example, has about 6-8 tons of pressure holding ...


6

For 1. In principle, the refractive index of a true vacuum is identically 1. For air at atmospheric pressure, the index is 1.000293 for visible light. Therefore, you should be able to determine the deviations between in refractive angles for a jar filled with air and one under vacuum. Since we're talking deviations on the order of one in ten thousandth, it's ...



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