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 Topic: Ask a Physicist!

 (Read 15740 times)
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  • Ask a Physicist!
     OP - July 05, 2015, 08:17 AM

    Hey all! Upon popular demand, I am creating an "ask a Physicist" thread! Here you can ask any questions you've always wondered about. From the wild, the weird to the truly wonderful. And by the way there's no question to small and nor is there a question too stupid.

    Post questions below and I'll get back to you asap!  dance thnkyu

    One only acquires wisdom when one sets the heart and mind open to new ideas.

    Chat: http://client01.chat.mibbit.com/#ex-muslims
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #1 - July 06, 2015, 02:51 AM

    1. Does the fact you used the exact title, word for word, for this thread that I, a non physicist suggested, mean I am better at physics than you?

    2. Since the pre-big bang universe was something that existed in a state with no time, and it was only with the post big bang universe that time itself came into being, and if the universe does have an expatriation date, this will likely be the death of time. Though if it's true that energy cannot be destroyed, the universe will exist in some form. So I'm curious as to whether, when talking about the universe, terms like finite or infinite are even relevant?

    3. People have theorised many ways the universe as we know it will end/die, the two most popular being the universe collapsing under the weight of it's own gravity (the big crunch) or having a finite mass to expand and then snapping back into itself like an elastic band. Providing either of these are realistic possibilities as far as our current knowledge goes, could this be one in a chain of a number of big bangs, the big bang that we're familiar with being simply one in a long line?

    4. What the fuck is up with people in planes ageing slower?

    `But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
     `Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here. I'm mad.  You're mad.'
     `How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
     `You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #2 - July 06, 2015, 01:33 PM

    1. Does the fact you used the exact title, word for word, for this thread that I, a non physicist suggested, mean I am better at physics than you?



    If anything it means you're good at discussing science.  Cheesy It seems like the vast majority of people working in science can either understand the data or communicate it with the public, but not both. Tongue Richard Dawkins: Good at doing science, bad at communicating the data (The Selfish Gene isn't about a gene for selfishness; also he coined meme, great word, entered pop culture, but not with the definition he intended). Stephen Hawking: Communicates well with the public, not regarded as being very groundbreaking or influential within the physics community. Nikola Tesla, good at sciencing, bad at getting his information out in a way that people would understand (or give him credit for). Richard Feynman, seems to have been good at communicating, his uni students would say that his lectures were like eating Chinese take away: everyone loved it, but 15 minutes after the lecture, you had no idea what had gone on. Not true of all scientists, obviously. But it seems to be a large number.

    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I have a sonic screwdriver, a tricorder, and a Type 2 phaser.
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #3 - July 06, 2015, 01:37 PM

    ..... Richard Dawkins.......... Stephen Hawking......... Nikola Tesla, .......... Richard Feynman, ..........


    my goodness gracious .. you have terrific background and you seem to read a lot galfromusa.....

    Do not let silence become your legacy.. Question everything   
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #4 - July 06, 2015, 03:01 PM


    2. Since the pre-big bang universe was something that existed in a state with no time, and it was only with the post big bang universe that time itself came into being, and if the universe does have an expatriation date, this will likely be the death of time. Though if it's true that energy cannot be destroyed, the universe will exist in some form. So I'm curious as to whether, when talking about the universe, terms like finite or infinite are even relevant?



    I have a related question to that: what *is* time, even, for a physicist? The ways we normally tell time in our everyday lives are pretty arbitrary, and a simple thought experiment can show that: let's say that 50 years from today, a human baby is born in a permanent human settlement on Mars. What is the date of that child's fifth birthday? Here on earth, the answer would be pretty simple to calculate. But on Mars? Would the kid count earth years (being as he's human and humans are from earth) or martian years (being as he was born on Mars)? Or does he count 365 days, no matter what planet he's on--which would make it like 48 days later on earth than it would be if he'd been born on earth because there's a 30-odd minute difference between the earth day and martian day accumulated over 5 years. We could switch to something that stayed the same no matter where you were, like "stardate" (no, I won't ever miss an opportunity to suggest that star trek has the answers to all life's questions), but that still only works until we meet or start communicating with another space-faring civilization and then we have to sync calendars with them and that'll be a pain in the butt.

    my goodness gracious .. you have terrific background and you seem to read a lot galfromusa.....


    I'm in the "good with communicating" camp: I'm much better at running my mouth than I am at really grasping concepts lol. I can figure out word order, rearrange the words to go out in a way that makes sense, and thereby put together sentences that use very meaningful language without ever actually understanding the words. When I was in uni, I decided to do a paper on the psychoneuroimmunology of post-partum depression to impress a professor because that was her specialist area, and I wasn't getting very good marks in the class. I got stuck on a sentence that read: "One system that has received little attention to date is the bidirectional innate immune system-HPA axis association." I still don't know what half those words mean, but I managed to convince the teacher that I did in my paper, and I got an A and started doing much better in the class.

    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I have a sonic screwdriver, a tricorder, and a Type 2 phaser.
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #5 - July 06, 2015, 03:29 PM

    .....I have a related question to that: what *is* time, even, for a physicist?

    ..........But on Mars? Would the kid count earth years (being as he's human and humans are from earth) or martian years (being as he was born on Mars)

    ...but that still only works until we meet or start communicating with another space-faring civilization and then we have to sync calendars with them and that'll be a pain in the butt......

    Oh common musa girl.. all that calculations and all the conversion factors are at your finger tips.. you are typing on it....

    Quote
    I'm in the "good with communicating" camp: I'm much better at running my mouth than I am at really grasping concepts lol. .........

    . When I was in uni, I decided to do a paper on the psychoneuroimmunology of post-partum depression to impress a professor because that was her specialist area, ...... "One system that has received little attention to date is the bidirectional innate immune system-HPA axis association."

    ...... I still don't know what half those words mean, but I managed to convince the teacher that I did in my paper, and I got an A and started doing much better in the class.

    ...lol.... Cheesy well then your teacher was NOT really teacher neither you were a student.,  

    She was a believer and you were a Preacher .,  Preachers irrespective of what they say always impresses beleivers..

    Do not let silence become your legacy.. Question everything   
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #6 - July 06, 2015, 04:45 PM

    Oh common musa girl..


    It's still gal from usa. It was always gal from usa. If it was musa girl, what would the "fro" mean? lol. I picked it because it was the shortest username I could think of that wasn't already taken and that I wasn't already using on any other platforms. Didn't want to use a username that I already was using because I didn't want people like my husband to find me talking about ex-Muslim stuff online.

    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I have a sonic screwdriver, a tricorder, and a Type 2 phaser.
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #7 - July 06, 2015, 07:00 PM

    It's still gal from usa. It was always gal from usa. If it was musa girl, what would the "fro" mean? lol...............

    well you know what "fro" means.., it is "from"....   from musa... musa genealogy ..

    Oh!..   .....gal from usa.......  that is a good song...  let me change this then..

    Quote

    Gal from USA.. Gal from USA
    Born  in a dead man town
    The first kick I took  when I changed the faith
    end up like a dog that's looking for escape
    Till I spend half the life hiding from hell
    Gal from USA..
    I am Gal from USA

    Got  a little home PC in my hand
    ran away in to closet logged in to CEMB
     Gal from USA..
    I am Gal from USA
    .


    So I was reading NUKE MAN..poor guy was hit hard in recent times..   he writes.,
    Quote
     Rumi’s Masnavi is full of interesting anecdotes and guidance. In my previous column I already mentioned that the Masnavi is considered to be the Quran in the Persian language.....

    After hearing all this, Firaun asked what he was to get in return for ridding himself of all wordly enticements and becoming a Muslim. ‘O Musa! Please hurry up and tell me how the door of true guidance may be opened for me’.

    Hazrat Musa (AS) said: ‘If you embrace Islam, the first reward would be that you would always keep good health and will never get sick, but you would desire death to enjoy the life hereafter. Oh Firaun! The second blessing is that, just as a green leaf entices a worm away from the grapes, so is this world distracts you from your creator.  

    ....Hazrat Musa (AS) said ..   ....Hazrat Musa (AS) said   about Islam.,  

    ha! I didn't know there was Islam during Hazrat Musa (AS) times.. Never heard any religious of Moses times  talking about a religion "ISLAM"

    Now question to you Gal from USA.. Do you now who Musa was? if you did then are you or were you a Musa girl before you became a Muslim?

    Do not let silence become your legacy.. Question everything   
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #8 - July 06, 2015, 07:23 PM

    Getting surgery to reset fractured nasal bones. How long will it take for them to fully heal?

    how fuck works without shit??


    Let's Play Chess!

    harakaat, friend, RIP
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #9 - July 06, 2015, 08:11 PM

    1. Does the fact you used the exact title, word for word, for this thread that I, a non physicist suggested, mean I am better at physics than you?


    It makes you an excellent author and should consider professional title making.

    2. Since the pre-big bang universe was something that existed in a state with no time, and it was only with the post big bang universe that time itself came into being, and if the universe does have an expatriation date, this will likely be the death of time. Though if it's true that energy cannot be destroyed, the universe will exist in some form. So I'm curious as to whether, when talking about the universe, terms like finite or infinite are even relevant?


    That's an excellent question, and in short the answer is we don't know - but I can tell you what we *do* know! In fact an infinitely countless different possibilities here. We call the big bang the beginning of time, yes, i.e. it is the t = 0 event with respect to the lifetime of the universe. However this is given first of all the big bang theory is indeed a correct model, and there are studies which allow us to infer it (red shift of galaxies, a distributed temperature profile when looking into the celestial sphere, etc. which imply expansion, which then taken backwards in time implies contraction) Given this was an event which occurred (according to current estimates) 13.7 billion years ago, to infer something this major is difficult to say the least. There is the multiverse theory, for instance, which can then explain the existence of our universe *without* the need for the big bang. Point here being, to place the time measure for the universe relative to the life of the universe is itself on another theory. We can only hypothesise. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, yet can be changed from one form to another in a *closed system*. Now that last part is very essential but often missed out. A closed system is where there is no energy exchange at the *boundary* of the system. Treating the universe as a thermodynamical system, is it closed or open? Does it have a boundary? These are open questions. So basically it is unknown if the first law of thermodynamics applies to the entire universe itself. Finite and infinite are mathematical constructions to describe quantities. They make sense in the mathematical structure, and given mathematics is the language of physics, it exists in that domain also. But it must be understood they are themselves not physical entities. Much of this question leaks into the "Philosophy of Science", so these parts escape the realm of science (my expertise) but I hope I have given you some sort of idea of where we are up to in terms of understanding the universe. A lot of open questions still left over!

    3. People have theorised many ways the universe as we know it will end/die, the two most popular being the universe collapsing under the weight of it's own gravity (the big crunch) or having a finite mass to expand and then snapping back into itself like an elastic band. Providing either of these are realistic possibilities as far as our current knowledge goes, could this be one in a chain of a number of big bangs, the big bang that we're familiar with being simply one in a long line?


    Assuming the former is true, it would lead to the conclusion of at least one big bang (provided the big bang model is correct). The latter would lead to a multitude of big bangs, but elastic objects are (contrary to the name) never truly elastic, there is energy loss, resulting in damped oscillations. So eventually after a number of big bangs there would be a cutoff point. The universe would be progressively smaller after each big bang. Now if the process is 100% elastic, then you'd have infinitely many big bangs and big crunches. So that means it *could* hold that this is just one of many in a long line!

    4. What the fuck is up with people in planes ageing slower?


    In a plane the effect would be minimal, but try orbiting a black hole, or travelling at close to light speed! The former is known as gravitational time dilation (general relativity), where a massive object causes space-time (yes, space and time are interconnected!) to curve. The mass of the object determines how much space-time curves (the more massive, the more curviness!) and time dilation occurs! So basically it's a way of saying, time is being stretched out (you are still travelling the same length in the path along the curve, but it's taking relatively "longer"). Now as for travelling close to the speed of light, then strange things happen. It is known as special relativity. Time dilates as a function of the high velocity, for reasons not entirely known (the universe is just weird!) A very neat explanation can be found here http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/relativity10.htm.

    One only acquires wisdom when one sets the heart and mind open to new ideas.

    Chat: http://client01.chat.mibbit.com/#ex-muslims
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #10 - July 06, 2015, 08:17 PM

    I have a related question to that: what *is* time, even, for a physicist? The ways we normally tell time in our everyday lives are pretty arbitrary, and a simple thought experiment can show that: let's say that 50 years from today, a human baby is born in a permanent human settlement on Mars. What is the date of that child's fifth birthday? Here on earth, the answer would be pretty simple to calculate. But on Mars? Would the kid count earth years (being as he's human and humans are from earth) or martian years (being as he was born on Mars)? Or does he count 365 days, no matter what planet he's on--which would make it like 48 days later on earth than it would be if he'd been born on earth because there's a 30-odd minute difference between the earth day and martian day accumulated over 5 years. We could switch to something that stayed the same no matter where you were, like "stardate" (no, I won't ever miss an opportunity to suggest that star trek has the answers to all life's questions), but that still only works until we meet or start communicating with another space-faring civilization and then we have to sync calendars with them and that'll be a pain in the butt.


    Formally speaking, time is measured by "events" occurring in the universe. If everything in the universe froze, then time would no longer exist. A specific term to quantify this is entropy. And then there's "measured time", a very anthropic concept, which is what we use in science, where a special case of "event" is defined as the earth orbiting the sun. So as you correctly pointed out, we measure time relative to the earth movement and that is because we do live here. And then it is up to the person who moves where they choose to measure time from.

    One only acquires wisdom when one sets the heart and mind open to new ideas.

    Chat: http://client01.chat.mibbit.com/#ex-muslims
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #11 - July 06, 2015, 08:20 PM

    Getting surgery to reset fractured nasal bones. How long will it take for them to fully heal?


    At least 6 weeks rest is required after getting rhinoplasty. Source: http://www.realself.com/question/fracture-nasal-bone

    One only acquires wisdom when one sets the heart and mind open to new ideas.

    Chat: http://client01.chat.mibbit.com/#ex-muslims
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #12 - July 06, 2015, 09:03 PM

    Wait, but how would you know, you are not doctor, just physicist?!  Huh?

    how fuck works without shit??


    Let's Play Chess!

    harakaat, friend, RIP
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #13 - July 06, 2015, 09:34 PM

    Wait, but how would you know, you are not doctor, just physicist?!  Huh?

    Oh he knows Cheesy There is nothing PhysMath doesn't seem to know. I always call him when I'm feeling sick Cheesy

    You are the Universe, Expressing itself as a Human for a little while- Eckhart Tolle
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #14 - July 06, 2015, 10:03 PM

    I always call him when I'm feeling sick Cheesy


    And I'd wager that has very little to do with his medical expertise.  whistling2

    how fuck works without shit??


    Let's Play Chess!

    harakaat, friend, RIP
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #15 - July 06, 2015, 10:12 PM

    And I'd wager that has very little to do with his medical expertise.  whistling2

     Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy whistling2 Well I do call him regardless, excellent point  Cheesy

    You are the Universe, Expressing itself as a Human for a little while- Eckhart Tolle
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #16 - July 06, 2015, 10:27 PM

    Oh he knows Cheesy There is nothing PhysMath doesn't seem to know. I always call him when I'm feeling sick Cheesy


    Aka I'm a professional blagger  Wink

    One only acquires wisdom when one sets the heart and mind open to new ideas.

    Chat: http://client01.chat.mibbit.com/#ex-muslims
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #17 - July 07, 2015, 02:39 AM


    Now question to you Gal from USA.. Do you now who Musa was? if you did then are you or were you a Musa girl before you became a Muslim?


    Musa is Arabic for Moses (which I don't really understand how it got to "Musa" from "Moshe" but whatever). "were you a Musa girl before you became a Muslim?" -- Don't really understand the question. If your question is about my being Jewish, then yeah, I guess? I'm ethnically Jewish, my ancestors are Jewish; and I practiced Judaism. So if that's your question, then yeah?

    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I have a sonic screwdriver, a tricorder, and a Type 2 phaser.
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #18 - July 07, 2015, 07:10 AM

    There is the multiverse theory, for instance, which can then explain the existence of our universe *without* the need for the big bang.

    Why would multiple universes cancel out the big bang?

    I also have another question about time. How could the universe as we know it come into existence without time? I imagine that without time nothing happens. an analogy for communicating my understanding might be something like a DVD on pause. It's just frozen. How can anything at all happen if there is no time? Or is my understanding of what time is wrong?

    `But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
     `Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here. I'm mad.  You're mad.'
     `How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
     `You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #19 - July 07, 2015, 06:06 PM

    Why would multiple universes cancel out the big bang?

    I also have another question about time. How could the universe as we know it come into existence without time? I imagine that without time nothing happens. an analogy for communicating my understanding might be something like a DVD on pause. It's just frozen. How can anything at all happen if there is no time? Or is my understanding of what time is wrong?


    It *could* - the spontaneous formation of such universes could overcome the requirement for a big bang - our universe formed alongside the others that spontaneously formed (as in quantum mechanical terms except on a universe wide scale). It sounds farfetched but who knows, it's physics. Crazy stuff can happen!

    Time is a measure of an event occurring as you rightly pointed out. Frozen events at every point in space implies no time is passing by definition (also note, no observer could exist to measure time - apart from Allah). Here by event, I mean something "happening", it implies a dynamic.

    One only acquires wisdom when one sets the heart and mind open to new ideas.

    Chat: http://client01.chat.mibbit.com/#ex-muslims
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #20 - July 07, 2015, 06:16 PM

    I'm not sure I get your meaning. How can any dynamic happen without time? How can anything "happen"? Huh?

    `But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
     `Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here. I'm mad.  You're mad.'
     `How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
     `You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #21 - July 07, 2015, 06:18 PM

    .............. (also note, no observer could exist to measure time - apart from Allah). ..............


    Hmm.......  "no observer could exist to measure time - apart from Allah"  ...

    So PhysMath ., this allah thingy exist to measure time before the time started??   what is that any way?  and is it from PhysMath?  fuzzy math or fuzzy logic??

    Do not let silence become your legacy.. Question everything   
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #22 - July 07, 2015, 06:47 PM

    Related question about nothingness. I was watching Laurence Krauss explain how the universe came into being (I think the lecture was entitled A Universe From Nothing or Something From Nothing). It was a very fascinating lecture but it made me wonder if physicists use words differently from the rest of us. Like how some will say evolution is "Just a theory", seemingly oblivious to the difference between an established scientific theory and a bloke down the pub saying he has a theory on this or that.

    First he summed up what he meant by nothingness, which was no space and no time. Okay, yes, seems a pretty good idea of nothingness. But then apparently there are things in this nothingness (doesn't that requite space?), and it even has weight, so you can weigh nothing. But how can nothing have weight? Surely that means it's not nothing. So nothing is something, which seems to me to be something of a paradox. So, like with my evolution analogy above, are physicists simply meaning different things with their words than what the average person on the street means by it?

    `But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
     `Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here. I'm mad.  You're mad.'
     `How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
     `You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #23 - July 07, 2015, 07:05 PM

    Hmm.......  "no observer could exist to measure time - apart from Allah"  ...

    So PhysMath ., this allah thingy exist to measure time before the time started??   what is that any way?  and is it from PhysMath?  fuzzy math or fuzzy logic??


    I think he was joking. He finds that kind of thing hilarious, it's his idea of blasphemy Cheesy

    You are the Universe, Expressing itself as a Human for a little while- Eckhart Tolle
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #24 - July 07, 2015, 08:53 PM

    How often do you get messages from the other side?
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #25 - July 07, 2015, 09:49 PM

    I think he was joking. He finds that kind of thing hilarious, it's his idea of blasphemy Cheesy

    hi Ishtar90....good to see you.. you think so.,  PhysMath  is joking there? Ha!.. then we should NEVER trust these PhysMath guys.. They are goofy.  well then,  let us  phrase the question differently on that allah/god to PhysMath.,

    When these faith heads say/talk about allah/god..., what kind of figure head do they have in their mind?  what do they imagine in their brains on this shape/form of this allah/god character ?  

    Same question of Sam Harris down in this tube...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22cYcsVPOok

    I am just curious to find answers to those questions from these faith heads of any religion....

    Do not let silence become your legacy.. Question everything   
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #26 - July 07, 2015, 10:01 PM

    Musa is Arabic for Moses (which I don't really understand how it got to "Musa" from "Moshe" but whatever). .......................

    So if that's your question, then yeah?

    ha!.....  well then I was NOT wrong.... You know that guy Hassan Radwan tried to fight with me when I called you as "musa Girl"..

     I think That is a good nick.. good name for a nice Jewish Girl..   As far as this is concerned
    ....................Didn't want to use a username that I already was using because I didn't want people like my husband to find me talking about ex-Muslim stuff online.........

    who knows couple years down the road I may come  across a guy on a forum who happened to be your hubby and may say  same thing such as
    Quote
    Hi yeeze...

    I Didn't want to use a username that I already was using because I didn't want people like my wife to find me talking about ex-Muslim stuff online.........

    ..lol.. I am an optimistic guy..   Ha!  this is a good one to watch.....

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AH74bbcq3M


    with best wishes
    yeezevee


    Do not let silence become your legacy.. Question everything   
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #27 - July 07, 2015, 11:29 PM

    hi Ishtar90....good to see you.. you think so.,  PhysMath  is joking there? Ha!.. then we should NEVER trust these PhysMath guys.. They are goofy.  well then,  let us  phrase the question differently on that allah/god to PhysMath.,

    When these faith heads say/talk about allah/god..., what kind of figure head do they have in their mind?  what do they imagine in their brains on this shape/form of this allah/god character ?


    LOL yeezevee, if it weren't for you this forum would be incomplete. I think you should really ask them. Tongue

    One only acquires wisdom when one sets the heart and mind open to new ideas.

    Chat: http://client01.chat.mibbit.com/#ex-muslims
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #28 - July 07, 2015, 11:30 PM

    How often do you get messages from the other side?


    On average, 0 per day. Smiley

    One only acquires wisdom when one sets the heart and mind open to new ideas.

    Chat: http://client01.chat.mibbit.com/#ex-muslims
  • Ask a Physicist!
     Reply #29 - July 07, 2015, 11:33 PM

    Related question about nothingness. I was watching Laurence Krauss explain how the universe came into being (I think the lecture was entitled A Universe From Nothing or Something From Nothing). It was a very fascinating lecture but it made me wonder if physicists use words differently from the rest of us. Like how some will say evolution is "Just a theory", seemingly oblivious to the difference between an established scientific theory and a bloke down the pub saying he has a theory on this or that.

    First he summed up what he meant by nothingness, which was no space and no time. Okay, yes, seems a pretty good idea of nothingness. But then apparently there are things in this nothingness (doesn't that requite space?), and it even has weight, so you can weigh nothing. But how can nothing have weight? Surely that means it's not nothing. So nothing is something, which seems to me to be something of a paradox. So, like with my evolution analogy above, are physicists simply meaning different things with their words than what the average person on the street means by it?


    That's right, though the term "nothing" is really just the negation of "something". The term in itself is contended a lot since what is (as you pointed out) a lack of "something"? Lawrence Krauss' definition is his own from a physical perspective, and it leads to its own philosophical problems. Physics is concerned with models and approximations, largely. As a result it is undeniable that this definition is indeed different to what philosophers and even people down the street mean by it.

    One only acquires wisdom when one sets the heart and mind open to new ideas.

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