Monthly Archives: June 2011

Q: What does a measurement in quantum mechanics do?

Physicist: This is a follow up of this post, that would’ve been too long and meandering with this included.  To sum up that post, a “measurement” is an interaction that exchanges information. In the Copenhagen interpretation, what that measurement does … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Entropy/Information, Philosophical, Physics, Quantum Theory | 13 Comments

Q: If you stood in the beam of a particle accelerator, what would happen?

The original question was: Assuming you could avoid any other of the effects of being in an active particle accelerator tube,  How much damage would you expect by the particles smashing into you?  How much would the amount of mass within the particles … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Particle Physics, Physics | 4 Comments

Q: What exactly is the vacuum catastrophe and what effects does this have upon our understanding of the universe?

Physicist: The vacuum catastrophe is sometimes cited as the biggest disagreement between theory and experiment ever.  They disagree by a factor of at least 10107. According to quantum field theory the energy of empty space can’t quite be zero.  In … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Astronomy, Particle Physics, Physics, Quantum Theory | 17 Comments

Q: What is a “measurement” in quantum mechanics?

Physicist: Any interaction of any kind that conveys information is a form of detection. This question crops up frequently in conjunction with the “Copenhagen interpretation”. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics (which comes in a couple different flavors) is generally … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Entropy/Information, Physics, Quantum Theory | 11 Comments

Q: How close is Jupiter to being a star? What would happen to us if it were?

The original question was: I have heard Jupiter referred to as a failed star.  That if the cosmic chaos of the early solar system had worked out a little different, and Jupiter had gotten a bit more mass, it might … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Astronomy, Physics | 92 Comments

Q: Can you fix the “1/0 problem” by defining 1/0 as a new number?

The original question was: I’ve been relearning some things about imaginary numbers and the concept behind the number got me thinking about something else. Is there a reason that the quantity could not be defined in a similar way to … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Conventions, Logic, Math | 23 Comments