# Questions tagged [faq]

Frequently asked questions. Whenever the same question winds up getting asked over and over again, this tag should designate the _original_ one, which we close all the others as duplicates of.

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### Is it possible to speak about changes in a physical constant which is not dimensionless?

Every so often, one sees on this site* or in the news† or in journal articles‡ a statement of the form "we have measured a change in such-and-such fundamental constant" (or, perhaps more commonly, "we ...
104k views

### With Newton's third law, why are things capable of moving?

I've got a rather humiliating question considering newton's third law "If an object A exterts a force on object B, then object B exerts an equal but opposite force on object A" -> $F_1=-F_2$ ...
3k views

### How do Einstein's field equations come out of string theory?

The classical theory of spacetime geometry that we call gravity is described at its core by the Einstein field equations, which relate the curvature of spacetime to the distribution of matter and ...
7k views

### What was Albert Einstein's proof for $E=mc^2$?

Most people know the famous equation: $$E=mc^2$$ What were his steps of thinking for this equation that helped us discover so much about our world?
13k views

### How does the Higgs Boson gain mass itself?

If the Higgs field gives mass to particles, and the Higgs boson itself has mass, does this mean there is some kind of self-interaction? Also, does the Higgs Boson have zero rest mass and so move at ...
122k views

### How does gravity work underground?

Would the effect of gravity on me change if I were to dig a very deep hole and stand in it? If so, how would it change? Am I more likely to be pulled downwards, or pulled towards the edges of the hole?...
4k views

### Is it possible to recover Classical Mechanics from Schrödinger's equation?

Let me explain in details. Let $\Psi=\Psi(x,t)$ be the wave function of a particle moving in a unidimensional space. Is there a way of writing $\Psi(x,t)$ so that $|\Psi(x,t)|^2$ represents the ...
15k views

### Dependence of Friction on Area

Is friction really independent of area? The friction force, $f_s = \mu_s N$. The equation says that friction only depends on the normal force, which is $N = W = mg$, and nature of sliding surface, ...
74k views

### Book recommendations [closed]

Every once in a while, we get a question asking for a book or other educational reference on a particular topic at a particular level. This is a meta-question that collects all those links together. ...
3k views

### Can energy be taken out of the QFT vacuum?

There have been recent questions about the vacuum. In my simplified knowledge the vacuum is like a ground state energy level, and also that there might even exist other lower energy levels than the ...
124k views

### What is the simplest way to prove the Earth is round?

Assume you've come in contact with a tribe of people cut off from the rest of the world, or you've gone back in time several thousand years, or (more likely) you've got a numbskull cousin. How would ...
38k views

### Why can't light escape from a classical black hole?

Photons do not have (rest) mass (that's why they can move at speed of "light"). So, my question is how the gravity of classical$^1$ black hole can stop light from escaping? -- $^1$ We ignore ...
18k views

### Why there's a whirl when you drain the bathtub?

At first I thought it's because of Coriolis, but then someone told me that at the bathtub scale that's not the predominant force in this phenomenon.
3k views

### If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into? [closed]

If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into? When the big bang happened where did it occur? When the big bang happened how did it occur? Where did the energy come from? Energy can not be ...
9k views

### What if the LHC doesn't see SUSY?

A question in four parts. What are the main problems which supersymmetry purports to solve? What would constitute lack of evidence for SUSY at the proposed LHC energy scales (e.g. certain predicted ...
17k views

### How fast does gravity propagate?

A thought experiment: Imagine the Sun is suddenly removed. We wouldn't notice a difference for 8 minutes, because that's how long light takes to get from the Sun's surface to Earth. However, what ...
13k views

### Is it possible for information to be transmitted faster than light by using a rigid pole?

Is it possible for information (like 1 and 0s) to be transmitted faster than light? For instance, take a rigid pole of several AU in length. Now say you have a person on each end, and one of them ...
6k views

### Is time travel possible? Is it possible to go back in time?

I read somewhere that according to relativity, it is possible - involving black holes and other stuff - to jump into the past. Is it possible for anything to go back in time either continuously or by ...
8k views

### How are classical optics phenomena explained in QED (Snell's law)?

How is the following classical optics phenomenon explained in quantum electrodynamics? Reflection and Refraction Are they simply due to photons being absorbed and re-emitted? How do we get to Snell'...
54k views

### Why does holding something up cost energy while no work is being done?

I read the definition of work as $$W ~=~ \vec{F} \cdot \vec{d}$$ $$\text{ Work = (Force) \cdot (Distance)}.$$ If a book is there on the table, no work is done as no distance is covered. If I ...
7k views

### Balloons and lifting gases

Hydrogen is the lightest element, so it's cable of lifting the most weight in out atmosphere (probably not the best terminology there, but you get the picture) Would hot hydrogen (in the same sense ...
24k views

### Coulomb force in SI and cgs

Coulomb force in SI is $F = \frac{Q1*Q2}{4\pi\varepsilon R^{2}}$ while in CGS $F = \frac{Q1*Q2}{R^{2}}$ why is it? I mean doesn't it any make difference in dimension? since $\varepsilon$ ...
1k views

### Chance of objects going against greater entropy?

My book uses the argument that the multiplicities of a few macrostates in a macroscopic object take up an extraordinarily large share of all possible microstates, such that even over the entire ...
17k views

### Why doesn't a bike/bicycle fall if going with a high speed?

Why does a bike/bicycle fall when its speed is very low or close to zero and is balanced when going with a high speed?
21k views

### A list of inconveniences between quantum mechanics and (general) relativity?

It is well known that quantum mechanics and (general) relativity do not fit well. I am wondering whether it is possible to make a list of contradictions or problems between them? E.g. relativity ...