Monthly Archives: November 2009

Q: Will CERN create a black hole?

Physicist: Unfortunately, ultra small black holes straddle the line between quantum mechanics and general relativity, which makes it difficult to make useful predictions.  The answer is: a solid maybe.  If your conCERN is that the black hole thus created will … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Paranoia, Physics | 11 Comments

Q: What’s the highest population growth rate that the Earth can support?

Physicist: Zero. Populations tend to grow exponentially, which is why the growth rate is defined as R in P = AeRt, where A is the population at time t=0, and P is the population at any other time t.  If … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Biology, Math | 5 Comments

Q: What is time?

Physicist: All philosophy aside, the best answer is due to Einstein, who said (after lots of thought) that “Time is what clocks measure”. The term “spacetime” gets bandied about a lot.  And you may have been lead to (correctly) suspect … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Philosophical, Physics, Relativity | 10 Comments

Q: What is “Dark Matter”?

Physicist: The most common answers are: “heavy neutrinos” and “I don’t know, something else?”.  Neutrinos are, for lack of a better word, “ghost” particles, which makes them a decent candidate. The original dark matter theories came from observations of nearby … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Astronomy, Physics | 1 Comment

Q: Why do heavy objects bend space and what is it they are bending?

Physicist: Scientists can generally answer “medium complicated” questions.  The really hard ones are too damn hard, and the really simple ones are often “just the way things are”.  Or they may be really, really difficult questions in disguise.  You’ve found … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics, Relativity | 73 Comments

Q: Why does math work so well at modeling the world around us?

Mathematician: One important thing to realize about mathematics is that it was primarily created for practical purposes. For example, numbers were likely used in the beginning to count possessions, multiplication for trade, and geometry to measure plots of land (or … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Mathematician, Math, Philosophical | 12 Comments