Category Archives: Physics

Q: Is it possible to parachute to Earth from orbit?

Physicist: Yes and no, but mostly no. It’s certainly possible to parachute safely to Earth from the top (or nearly the top) of the atmosphere, but this question isn’t about parachuting from space it’s about parachuting from orbit.  An orbit … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Engineering, Physics | 6 Comments

Q: Why can’t we see the lunar landers from the Apollo missions with the Hubble (or any other) telescope?

Physicist: About why you’d expect: they’re just too damn small and too damn far away.  Nothing fancy.  That’s not to say that we can never get images, just that you need to be a lot closer.  The lunar landers are … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics | 7 Comments

Q: How bad would it be if we accidentally made a black hole?

Physicist: Not too bad!  Any black hole that humanity might ever create is very unlikely to harm anyone who doesn’t try to eat it. Black holes do two things that make them (potentially) dangerous: they eat and they pop.  For … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics | 16 Comments

Q: What if gravity acted like magnetism?

Physicist: The problem with magnetism and the electric force is that they tend to cancel themselves out.  For example, if you have a positive charge the first thing it does is repel all the other positive charges around it and … Continue reading

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

Q: If atoms are 99.99% space, what “kind” of space is it? Is it empty vacuum?

Physicist: This is a bit of a misnomer. When we picture an atom we usually picture the “Bohr model”: a nucleus made of a bunch of particles packed together (protons and neutrons) with other particles zipping around it (electrons).  In … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics, Quantum Theory | 15 Comments

Q: Is geocentrism really so wrong? Is the Sun being at the “center” (i.e. the Earth orbiting the Sun) just an arbitrary reference frame decision, and no more true than the Earth being at the center?

Physicist: When you walk around in this big crazy world, there aren’t any immediate reasons to suspect that the ground under your feet is doing anything more than sitting perfectly still (ring of fire notwithstanding).  Given that, when you look … Continue reading

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