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bio website lightandmatter.com
location Fullerton, California
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I teach physics at Fullerton College, a community college in Southern California. I have an undergrad degree in math and physics from Berkeley and a PhD in physics from Yale. Back when I was doing research, my field was experimental low-energy nuclear physics.


Oct
22
comment For a massless pulley moving upwards with acceleration, is the upward force equal to the downward force?
What do you mean by "not attached to a ceiling?" Are you saying that the whole setup is just free-falling straight down? If it's not attached to a ceiling, then what object is exerting the force F on the pulley?
Oct
22
comment What is logical way to calculate percentage error?
I disagree on both counts. There is no particular reason to prefer division by A or by B in general, and it is not true that we don't care about the sign. As an example where you would certainly not want to divide by $B$, there could be a case where you're testing a theoretical prediction that $B=0$.
Oct
22
comment What is logical way to calculate percentage error?
Percent error is almost never of interest, so the real answer is that working scientists would never worry about this issue. If you're testing an experiment against theory, there's no way to know whether a 0.03% difference is consistent with the theory or inconsistent with it, because it depends on how much error would have been expected due to the inherent precision of the technique. In real science we would say we measured A=____$\pm$____, and compared with the predicted value B=____ this was off by, e.g., 5.7 std dev, which is highly statistically significant, so the theory is disproved.
Oct
21
comment Liouville's theorem and preservation of topology
@StevenMathey: Then you can start by asking where do the points that are exactly on the line go? Can't they just stay where they are, i.e., this is an equilibrium? Moreover, two points that are separated by this line can be chosen as close to each other as you want. If this line existed, they would end up far away from each other whatever their original distance. Isn't this exactly what we expect if it's an unstable equilibrium?
Oct
21
comment Liouville's theorem and preservation of topology
Let's say my original connected subset R is a set of initial conditions for a pencil very nearly balanced on its tip. Doesn't this split into two disconnected parts, one in which the pencil falls to the right and one in which it falls to the left?
Oct
21
comment The classical hydrogen atom
We expect accelerations at the atomic level to be huge, simply because subatomic particles are traveling very fast (the electron in hydrogen at ~1% of the speed of light), and are confined to very small regions of space.
Oct
21
comment The classical hydrogen atom
related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/17651
Oct
21
comment Recommended books for undergraduate electrodynamics
The first edition of Purcell was written under an NSF grant and is therefore legally and freely available online from sites such as Library Genesis. If you have the coin, the third edition is nicer (contains a lot more applications, and uses MKS). It's theoretically a freshman book, not upper division, but in reality it's about the same level as Griffiths. Greatest E&M book ever.
Oct
21
comment Underdetermined forces in a statics problem
The wheels argument would simply seem to be an argument that any time there is equilibrium, there can be no static friction; you haven't used anything specific to the present problem. But we know that static friction can exist when there is equilibrium. Changing a solid surface to a wheeled surface simply changes the behavior of the surface.
Oct
21
comment Underdetermined forces in a statics problem
It seems reasonable to imagine that the amount of friction depends on deformation. However, I don't see any reason to infer that when the box is perfectly rigid, the friction must vanish, and I don't buy the argument in the 2nd paragraph about wheels. I think the assumption of perfect rigidity simply makes the problem underdetermined -- it doesn't make F=0. Solutions with $F\ne 0$ exist for any finite rigidity of the box, so I don't see how one can argue otherwise in the limit of infinite rigidity.
Oct
21
awarded  Good Question
Oct
21
revised Producing photons with same frequency, different amplitude wave
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Oct
21
comment Producing photons with same frequency, different amplitude wave
This question has received some correct answers and some incorrect ones. The one that it's a duplicate of has an accepted answer that is correct.
Oct
20
comment Which inertial observer should I choose when using $\Delta U = -\Delta K$?
If momentum is conserved for a system of particles, then energy is conserved in all frames of reference. If you simply posit a field of force acting on a single particle, then momentum is not conserved, and conservation of energy is not frame-independent.
Oct
20
comment Relativistic Doppler Effect and the Sagnac effect
Why is it not the relative velocity of the receiver with respect to the photon itself? The velocity of light relative to anything is always the same. It's just $c$.
Oct
20
comment Producing photons with same frequency, different amplitude wave
I am trying to give some justification to the common answer that all photons have the same A ... which is simply false, for the reasons given in my answer.
Oct
20
comment Can light produce weak gravitational waves?
@CuriousOne: Unless somebody does the experiment there is no way of knowing. Not true. General relativity makes unequivocal predictions about this kind of thing, and it is a well tested theory. In particular, the gravitational fields made by light need not be weak, and we have direct evidence of this. The universe was radiation-dominated up until it was about 50,000 years old. This period includes the period of big-bang nucleosynthesis (BBN), so empirical data on BBN are a test of these cosmological models. Therefore we can confidently use GR to address this type of question.
Oct
20
comment Producing photons with same frequency, different amplitude wave
"It" refers to the amplitude. When I said amplitudes are the same, I meant that in a vague sort of way because an individual doesn't even have a constant amplitude of course, as it is really described by a wave function, whose amplitudes are not even real numbers. So what do you think the magnitude of the amplitude is? But in a broad sense this amplitude (or the square of it) must integrate to 1. Right, which is not consistent with the amplitude being a fixed number for all photons of a given frequency.
Oct
20
comment Underdetermined forces in a statics problem
@Michiel: Friction is a `response force' No, I don't think that's true. There is no such physical principle that I know of.
Oct
20
revised Producing photons with same frequency, different amplitude wave
added 415 characters in body