Monthly Archives: April 2011

Q: How do you calculate 6/2(1+2) or 48/2(9+3)? What’s the deal with this orders of operation business?

Mathematician: Now that the Physicist and I have answered questions like these ones at least 9 times via email, I figure we should get this horrible topic out of the way once and for all with a short post. The … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Mathematician, Conventions, Math | 290 Comments

Q: Is there a single equation that proves black holes are real?

Physicist: Nope! Using general relativity (which has plenty of equations), and a little borrowed knowledge from other fields (to describe star collapse), you can show that black holes should exist.  But unfortunately there are no proofs in physics, just experimental … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Astronomy, Philosophical, Physics | 9 Comments

Q: Is the edge of a circle with an infinite radius curved or straight?

Physicist: Straight. In fact, in mathematics the “curvature” of a curve is usually defined as the “reciprocal of the radius of the osculating circle”.  This is fancy talk for: fit a circle into the curve as best you can, then … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Geometry, Math | 25 Comments

Q: As a consequence of relativity, objects becomes more massive when they’re moving fast. What is it about matter that causes that to happen?

Physicist: The laws of the universe are relativistic.  That is, Einstein was right and Newton, although accurately and intuitively describing the world around us, was wrong.  When you try to translate the cleaner Einstein laws into a Newtonian form you … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics, Relativity | 12 Comments

Q: What is the evidence for the Big Bang?

Physicist: The very short answer is: all the galaxies in the universe are flying apart, so at some point in the distant past they must have been very close together.  It would have been so close and so dense that … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Astronomy, Physics | 10 Comments

Q: Is there a formula to find the Nth term in the Fibonacci sequence?

Physicist: Hells yes!  It’s , where the “≈” is close enough that you can round to the nearest integer.  Astute readers will notice that is the golden ratio, and may wonder if this is a coincidence.  Yes. Everything after this … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Equations, Math | 16 Comments