5,151 reputation
1127
bio website keith-s-thompson.github.com
location San Diego, CA
age 54
visits member for 2 years, 6 months
seen Apr 17 at 19:07

I'm a programmer and all-around nerd living in San Diego, California and working at JetHead Development Inc.

E-mail: Keith.S.Thompson@gmail.com


Jun
7
comment Why Higgs particle is the root of all elementary particles?
The popular media tend to claim that the Higgs boson is the source of all mass. If I understand this correctly, it's the Higgs mechanism that's (theoretically) the source of all mass, and the Higgs boson is another consequence of the Higgs mechanism. Is that about right?
Jun
6
comment Is there such a thing as “North” in outerspace?
@RonMaimon: I suspect that by the time we're able to travel thousands of light-years, we'll have a very good idea where all the stars in the neighborhood are.
May
31
comment Andromeda/Milky Way collision: How, and how accurately, can a galaxy's lateral velocity be measured?
I've just posted a new answer with more current information.
May
31
comment Would it matter if the Earth rotated clockwise?
@ThaddeusHowze: Ok, that makes sense. It depends on just how the rotation is reversed. But you might consider editing your answer to clarify that point. There is no significant "balancing action of our spinning angular momentum".
May
31
comment Would it matter if the Earth rotated clockwise?
"since our structures would no longer have (for however long this took) the balancing action of our spinning angular momentum. I suspect most structures would collapse" -- You seem to be implying that, for example, tall buildings are stabilized by the gyroscopic effect of the Earth's rotation. I don't believe that's correct.
May
21
comment Is there a way to create an artificial solar eclipse?
There's a total eclipse of the Sun every night.
May
20
comment Solar Eclipse Viewing
How sure are you that this won't damage your camera?
May
13
comment Is the environment around an asteroid harsher than in interplanetary space?
Yes, conduction; I just fixed it. Thanks.
May
13
comment Why is matter drawn into a black hole not condensed into a single point within the singularity?
@Argus: If you feel some of your comments are unnecessary, you can remove them yourself. Grenade explosions, however traumatic they are, do not exhibit relativistic effects.
May
13
comment Why is matter drawn into a black hole not condensed into a single point within the singularity?
Things get complicated when you consider the point of view of an infalling observer. To an outside observer, it takes forever for an object to reach the event horizon (though the object will approach it very closely very quickly). After that, the black hole will evaporate by Hawking radiation after a very long but finite time, unless there's enough infalling matter to prevent it. From the point of view of an infalling observer, the evaporation should happen very quickly. See also this answer. I welcome feedback from any real physicists.
Apr
14
comment Is Jupiter a failed star?
I consider myself to be a failed star. If only I'd been born with another billion or so yottagrams of hydrogen! sigh
Apr
2
comment Can we prove that the universe is finite or infinite?
Resisting the temptation to post a variant of this answer.
Mar
26
comment Theoretically, can a black hole collapse until it gets smaller than its Schwarzschild radius?
@Warrick: Maybe. Black holes don't have infinite density; for a supermassive one, the average density inside the event horizon can be fairly modest. See my answer (and wait for someone who knows more about this than I do to come along and explain how I'm wrong).
Mar
26
comment Does the universe have a center?
Yes, it's me!
Mar
25
comment How does space affect the human body (no space suit, no space craft)
The phase diagram of saliva would be slightly different. I doubt that anyone has actually constructed one.
Mar
24
comment Why doesn't the Earth leave you as soon as you escape it?
Not quite. Certainly you'll still feel the effects of the Earth's gravity, but even if the Earth had no gravity, it wouldn't move rapidly away from you as soon as you leave it. @mohabitar: The Earth's gravitational pull (or any body's gravitational pull) falls off gradually with distance; the force is inversely proportional to the square of the distance. It never vanishes completely.
Mar
20
comment What distinguishes a moon from orbiting space debris? Or in other words, when is a satellite “too small” to be a moon?
Aren't some of Saturn's moons in each other's Trojan points (L4, L5)?
Mar
20
comment Black Hole Photon Sphere
@FlorinAndrei: Black holes and neutron stars are astronomical objects. I'd say it would be appropriate in either Astronomy or Physics (or Astrophysics if there were such a site).
Mar
17
comment How can you calculate the exact position of the Earth taking into account the gravitational attraction of Mars and the Sun?
A solution ignoring the Moon would be way off. And I'm sure Jupiter exerts more gravitational influence on Earth than Mars does. You could mathematically determine the position of Earth in a Sun-Earth-Mars system (though not in a closed-form equation), but it wouldn't match reality.
Mar
16
comment Is there any scientific evidence that demonstrates why time passes?
What else would it do?