Questions tagged [soft-question]

Questions that ask about some aspect of physics research or study which doesn't involve the actual physics. In general, soft questions can be answered without using physical reasoning.

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2answers
70 views

Why is it impossible (if it actually is) to speculate about physical impossibilities? [closed]

I've come across situations where a non-physicist person ask a physicist a question like "what would happen if a human travelled faster than the speed of light?" and the physicist would answer "that's ...
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1answer
157 views

Do you need lab courses for theoretical physics grad school? [closed]

Sorry if this question isn't appropriate for this forum. I'm a math and physics junior undergrad who wants to go into theoretical physics, in the direction of string theory or something like that. I'...
6
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1answer
545 views

Mental picture of interactions in QFT

Apologies in advance for the possible vagueness of my question. If it is not a good question, an explanation of why it isn't would be a very useful answer to me. I am trying to find a useful mental ...
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0answers
23 views

Reference for biography of Philipp Lenard [closed]

I was asked to write about the physicist Philipp Lenard, known for his research with cathode rays and as a winner of a Nobel prize, but i wasn't able to find good references (with exception for those ...
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1answer
51 views

Order used when listing units

When writing out measurements, what order should be used when listing the units? e.g., Why is newton-metre (N m) used instead of metre-newton (m N)? I encourage you to include resources/links/etc.
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2answers
1k views

What does “bulk silicon” mean?

The definition of the term "bulk" depends on the context, and I don't find the exact meaning of "bulk" when talking about materials. For example: "The photoluminiscense emission from the bulk silicon ...
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0answers
8k views

What's the deal with the “Quantum Gravity Research Organization”? [closed]

www.quantumgravityresearch.org It looks like they're an independent research group, but the main guy behind it, Klee Irwin, sounds crackpotty: Klee guides the team in developing emergence theory, ...
4
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1answer
222 views

String Theory: How has it helped our understanding of the world

The question is pretty much the one of the title. I'm a graduate student in theoretical physics and I notice a lot of professors work in string theory and I ask them to talk about it when they can. ...
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2answers
57 views

How exactly do I distingish an interpretation from computation?

Feynman wrote this in his Quantum Mechanics and Path integrals To summarize: we compute the intensity ( ... ) of waves which would arrive in the apparatus at x and then interpret this intensity ...
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3answers
327 views

What parts of a physics undergraduate curriculum have been discovered since 1966?

What parts of an undergraduate curriculum in fundamental physics have been discovered since, say, 1966? (I'm choosing this because it's 50 years ago.) Physics textbooks have moved on since 1966 (...
6
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2answers
252 views

Geometric interpretation of Renormalization Group (RG) flow in statistical mechanics?

Is there a way of visualising RG flow in statistical mechanics in a geometric way? I am very new to this subject so it is probably a naive question, but it seems that as we are looking for fixed ...
0
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1answer
90 views

What subset of physics can be described in complex phase space?

By complex phase space I mean $z=q + i\,p \in \mathbb{C}^{n}$ and $z = q -i \, p \in \mathbb{C}^{n}$ and the Hamiltonian $H(z,\bar{z})$ is a function of $z, \bar{z} \in \mathbb{C}^{n}$.
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1answer
1k views

Why are gauge theories called so?

Why are gauge theories called so? I guessed it was because gauge also means to estimate, so when one is trying to find the gauge theory for such and such interactions one has to estimate what might be ...
2
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0answers
751 views

How useful is SciRate for …? [closed]

How useful is SciRate to get a customized arXiv.org feed see trending papers from selected categories vote & comment on recent preprints i.e. how good (on a technical level, not as a community) ...
3
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1answer
743 views

Why can't infrared rays go through the atmosphere?

Why can't infrared rays reach the earth? Why can't they pass through the atmosphere?
0
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1answer
101 views

Why say “current is flowing” (as opposed to, say, “charge is flowing”)? [closed]

From what I read from books and website CURRENT is the "rate of flow of electric charges". So its should be the electric charges that flow in the conductor. Then why many sources state that "current ...
21
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3answers
3k views

Was the understanding of QM fundamental to the creation of transistors and silicon semiconductors?

Without quantum mechanics there would be no transistor, and hence no personal computer; no laser, and hence no Blu-ray players. James Kakalios, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota, ...
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2answers
3k views

Intensity of unpolarized light acted upon by a quarter wave plate

Why does the intensity of unpolarized light remain unchanged when it pass through a quarter wave plate? A quarter wave plate produces a phase difference between e- ray and o-ray. But the intensity is ...
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1answer
187 views

What is the duration of 12 noon or midnight?

We often say its 12 noon but What is the duration of midnight/noon. Is it in second/ millisecond/ microsecond or any other smaller quantity
3
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1answer
103 views

Beyond Standard Model [closed]

(I am mathematician, not physicist, so I don't know what to read in the physics literature, I don't know the journals, where are the survey, etc...). I read in standard newspapers, so not in ...
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9answers
8k views

Why ket and bra notation?

So, I've been trying to teach myself about quantum computing, and I found a great YouTube series called Quantum Computing for the Determined. However. Why do we use ket/bra notation? Normal vector ...
1
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1answer
104 views

What branch of mathematics describes fluid motion?

I was wondering if there is a specific branch of mathematics that is used to describe fluid motion? I know that calculus is used to describe rates of change in fluid motion (i.e. how fast a container ...
2
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2answers
188 views

Why harmonic oscillator / motion / potential is called “harmonic”?

As in the topic. Why force being proportional to displacement concludes the name as being "harmonic"? Question is purely about the name.
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1answer
130 views

Solar power with parabolic mirrors/lenses + peltier elements?

Peltier elements are used to use electricity create temperature gradients for example for the purpose of cooling electronics (and then in a secondary step remove the heat from the hot side). However ...
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1answer
97 views

Quantum mechanics is just deBroglie's hypothesis plus series expansion?

It turns out that it corresponds well with experimental data to say that particles behave like interfering complex distributions, whose modulus squared is a probability mass function for detecting the ...
3
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2answers
242 views

Is the Math That Enlightening? [closed]

I am a 61 year retired guy who truly is captivated with understanding the questions in physics. My primary interest in EM, visible light and the rest of the spectrum. It's not a fad. I have always had ...
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2answers
3k views

Application of calculus to physics

I am currently a 3rd year undergraduate electronic engineering student. I have completed a course in dynamics, calculus I, calculus II and calculus III. I am very interested in mathematics and ...
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1answer
123 views

What are some job titles a recent physics grad (Bachelor's degree) would fit well into? [closed]

Suppose a young person just finished a four-year degree in Physics (in the U.S.). Suppose he did very well, in terms of grades and understanding the material. But suppose he wants a break from ...
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2answers
324 views

Why is there no need in extra knowledge to go from the classical to the quantum desctiption of a system?

Take, for example, the hydrogen atom. Both the classical and the quantum models are based on the same Hamiltonian, describing the Coulomb potential. The classical model however misses a lot of ...
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0answers
69 views

What is the update on the ILC (International Linear Collider)? [closed]

Has the project been cancelled? There have been no further talk on the topic for a while.
3
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2answers
116 views

In what capacity are physicists still interested in classical scattering?

I'm working through the scattering sections of Mechanics by Landau and Lifshitz, and wanted to know if/how physicists today employ the methods of purely classical scattering processes. As far as I can ...
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1answer
62 views

What is the ultimate “matter reaching diameter” (radius) for a laser beam with information sent out today compared to the observable universe?

Diameter (radius) refers here to the distance the laser beam can travel to reach matter before Dark Energy (and the expansion of the universe) will make this impossible. Hubble's constant implies an ...
2
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0answers
72 views

Experiment using a laser beam [closed]

I need to come up with an experiment to conduct for my physics class. So far, I'm stuck at the use of lasers. What plausible experiments can be done using lasers that haven't been done before, and ...
3
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2answers
95 views

What cosmic event would have to occur for us to notice gravitational waves in everyday life? [duplicate]

I read that gravitational waves are so tiny that we need extremely precise equipment to detect them. I am no physicist, but GR really intrigues me and I was wondering about two things: How powerful ...
3
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1answer
3k views

How does eating a cold ice cream actually heat up your body? [closed]

The question is the title itself. During winter one of my friend told we'll have an ice cream. And rest of us where like are you nuts. He was like cold ice-cream actually heats up your body. Even I ...
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1answer
67 views

Particle Data Group book

Many PDG data books have 'July' marked on their covers, does this mean they are published (and made available on their website) in July? When is it expected to be available this year? (date or month ...
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1answer
2k views

Why does math work for describing and solving physics problems? [closed]

The clarified version As far as I understand, Wigner considers a "miracle" the fact that it is even possible to find a mathematical equation that describes a natural phenomenon. It is not exactly ...
2
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1answer
594 views

Resource: Star map which show current actual positions versus current observable positions?

Light travelling from stars and galaxies takes some time to reach us here on Earth - when we observe stars or galaxies in the night sky, we see their positions as they were when the light left on its ...
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1answer
321 views

Good book to grasp physics [duplicate]

I'll try to be clear. I'd like to ask you if you know some books or chapters in textbooks which explaining the "meaning" of some physical phenomena or entities. I may try to be more specific using ...
4
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3answers
1k views

Is a theory the same as a hypothesis? [duplicate]

“Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it.” Excerpt from Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, iBooks. So does that mean ...
4
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1answer
946 views

Why didn't Newton study electricity and magnetism?

This is a soft question about the history of physics. In Newton's time, electrical and magnetic phenomena (such as amber attracting things or the alignment of compass needles) were well known. Yet I ...
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2answers
72 views

Reference request: history of models and equations? [closed]

I am looking for an in-depth self-contained text for the layman which covers the historic development of major questions in physics and the models and equations considered to answer them, and their ...
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2answers
67 views

Gravity on other planets [closed]

Why we use the word"Earth' pull" while defining gravity when gravity also exist on other planets of solar system?
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0answers
120 views

Books recommendations for my theoretical physics library [duplicate]

long story short: I got a big prize from my scholarship, which consists in a lot of money for books, and I mean a lot: almost USD$ 3000. Thus, I am going to buy lots of books, of course! So I'm ...
3
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0answers
661 views

What's the difference between hypothesis, theory and law? [closed]

What's the difference between hypothesis, theory and law? I think I'm confused now because I exactly learned the misconception one as explained below in high school. According to this university's ...
2
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2answers
780 views

Physics without math [closed]

If anybody could imagine an advanced civilization with advanced knowledge of the universe(s) but without a mathematical language, how would they use their knowledge? How could it be possible to ...
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0answers
101 views

What is the best order of learning mathematics before start Monte Carlo Methods for Physics simulation? [closed]

I doing medical physics masters and hope to start my research in Monte Carlo methods to simulate some particle interaction and hence to calculate some unknown physical quantities ( Stopping power and ...
1
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2answers
364 views

How can I make my younger brother's interest in physics at home? [closed]

This is a soft question. I have a younger brother who is in 10th standard but he don't like subject of physics at all. When I asked reason for it he says he gets bored in mugging the formulas of ...
0
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1answer
90 views

How do I differentiate between units and variables on my notebook? [closed]

On computer systems, variables are written in italics, as $m$ or $s$, and the units as $\mathrm{m}$ or $\mathrm{s}$. It is very incovenient to do italics for variables and upright for units while ...
0
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1answer
132 views

If we were able to manipulate enough energy, could we use the higgs field for any practical application? [closed]

My question is, the fields in the standard model interact with each other, and when we are able to manipulate some of them through different engineered devices, we can transform the energy field into ...