Monthly Archives: June 2010

Q: Will there always be things that will not or cannot be known?

Mathematician: Unfortunately, limits to knowledge seem to be built into the nature of the universe, and even into logic itself. Relativity: Einstein’s theory of special relativity implies that no information can travel faster than the speed of light. That means … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Mathematician, Math, Philosophical, Quantum Theory, Relativity | 6 Comments

Q: If you could see through the Earth, how big would Australia look from the other side?

The original question was: Relative to the size my feet appear when I’m standing up and looking at the ground, how large would Australia appear if I could see all the way through the Earth and observe its shape?  Also, … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Brain Teaser, Geometry | 1 Comment

Q: How is it that Bell’s Theorem proves that there are no “hidden variables” in quantum mechanics? How do we know that God really does play dice with the universe?

Physicist: Bell’s theorem, and its philosophical fallout, is one of the most profound discoveries since relativity. Bell’s theorem states (among other things) that the universe is fundamentally unpredictable, and that quantum mechanical things (for example: everything) are not actually in … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Philosophical, Physics, Probability, Quantum Theory | 24 Comments

Q: Does an electric field have mass? Does it take energy to move an electric field?

The original question was: An electric field stores energy.  Energy has mass if I understand E=mc2 correctly. Now imagine a lone electron. It has an electric field. And therefore that field has mass presumably. If I apply a force to … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics | 5 Comments

Q: What would the consequenses for our universe be if the speed of light was only about one hundred miles per hour?

Physicist: In terms of things like space travel, the difference between 100mph and light speed is academic.  Everything out there is really far apart.  The speed of light, “C”, is woven into the laws of the universe from top to … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics, Relativity | 14 Comments

Q: Do virtual particles violate the laws that energy can be created or destroyed? Have virtual particles ever been observed? In any other instance can energy ever be destroyed or created?

Physicist: Almost. There’s a version of the uncertainty principle that says that the amount of energy and the amount of time involved in an event can’t both be certain.  You can think of this version of the uncertainty principle as … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Particle Physics, Physics, Quantum Theory | 5 Comments