Category Archives: Mistake

My bad: If fusion in the Sun suddenly stopped, what would happen?

Physicist: A commenter from the original post was kind enough to point out a massively bone-headed mistake.  My bad.  In the calculation to figure out how long it would take the Sun to cool I had used Fourier’s law of … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Mistake | 11 Comments

Q: Would it be possible in the distant future to directly convert matter into energy?

Physicist: You hear about nuclear devices taking advantage of “E=mc2” to turn matter into energy, so nuclear power seems like it might be a good way to go.  But it so happens that everything that releases energy loses mass in … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Mistake, Particle Physics, Physics | 18 Comments

My bad: If atoms are mostly made up of empty space, why do things feel solid?

Physicist: Thanks to a comment in the original post, I did a little research and found that I was wrong, wrong, holy crap wrong.  Here’s some of that comment: “The source of the ultimate “excluded volume” forces is entirely quantum … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Mistake, Quantum Theory | 20 Comments

Q: Why does “curved space-time” cause gravity?: A better answer.

Physicist: The original post is here. The curvature of space alone has almost no effect on the movement of objects until they are moving really fast.  With the exception of only the most extreme cases (black holes), space is very, … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Mistake, Physics, Relativity | 17 Comments

My bad: Have aliens ever visited Earth?

Physicist: In the post “Q: Have aliens ever visited Earth?” I said that the maximum velocity that can be obtained by a rocket using fusion is 11% of light speed.  Wrong! It turns out that (as a commenter had suggested) … Continue reading

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