Monthly Archives: August 2013

Dragon*Con 2013

I (Physicist) will be at Dragon*Con in Atlanta this year.  Rather than a setting up the usual stand, I’ll be wandering around wearing a beat-up, white t-shirt with the words “Ask a Mathematician Ask a Physicist” emblazoned upon the chest in … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Q: Why doesn’t the air “sit still” while the Earth turns under it?

Physicist: This question has had a lot of forms, from questions about hot air balloons, to “just hovering in the air”, to weather.  But the common thread boils down to “what keeps the atmosphere moving with the surface of the … Continue reading

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

Q: Can resonance be used to destroy anything? Is the “brown note” possible?

Physicist: Nope! “Resonance” is a “driven harmonic oscillation“, where the driving force pushes and pulls at, or near, the “resonant frequency” of whatever it is that doing the resonating.  There are two big issues involved with destroying stuff using sound, … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Equations, Math, Physics | 30 Comments

Q: Are there examples of quantum mechanics that can be seen in every-day life, or do they only show up in the lab?

Physicist: The weird effects that show up in quantum mechanics (a lot of them anyway) are due to the wave-nature of the world making itself more apparent.  What we normally think of as “particle behavior” is just what happens when … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Experiments, Quantum Theory | 32 Comments

Q: Why does it take thousands of years for light to escape the Sun?

Physicist: The original statement is often something like, “It takes tens of thousands of years for a photon to get from the core to the surface of the Sun, but only eight minutes to get from the Sun to the … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Math, Particle Physics, Physics, Probability | 10 Comments