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Old 09-30-2009, 12:10 PM   #1
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The OFFICIAL IntenseMuscle Physics Q&A Thread

I thought it would be fun to start a thread to explain or elucidate some questions people might have about physics. I will start by answering a couple of common questions, then open up the floor for anything people might want to know. Keep in mind I do not YET have a doctorate in physics, but I do have some game. I have also invited TommyKav to answer questions as well, as he also has mucho physics knowledge. Also if we're lucky, Justin Harris will show up to the party as well.

Q: What is physics?
A:
Simply put, physics is the study of matter, energy, and how they interact. Every natural science (biology, chemistry, geology, etc.) is based on universal laws and principles. These laws and principles come from physics. A good example of this is the law of conservation of energy. (In a closed system, energy is neither created nor destroyed.) This law has important applications in all the "hard" sciences, but it is ultimately derived from physical principles that are explained by physics.

Q: What are your qualifications to answer these questions?
A:
I have been studying physics in some form or another for 10 years. I have a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics, and I am now in graduate school at Texas A&M University. I have been in grad school for 5.5 years now, and I will be defending my dissertation in Spring 2016. My field of study is theoretical physics, specifically high-energy nuclear physics.

Q: Why should I care about physics?
A:
Well, you don’t have to. However, it is currently the best way that humans have of explaining and understanding the universe and how it works. Physics tell us how the sun shines, tells us why the planets orbit the sun, and even tells us (kind of) why matter has mass.

Now, who's first?
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:19 PM   #2
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nice, sounds like a new place for me to ask homework questions
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:24 PM   #3
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so Nate, why does matter have mass
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:41 PM   #4
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so Nate, why does matter have mass
matter is believed to have mass due to an as yet undescovered boson. it exists in theory and the theory itself is pretty sound.

Remember a few months ago with all the talk of the HADRON collider and finding the GOD particle? thats exactly what they are looking for, The HiGGS BOSON.

By definition the Higgs Boson is the partcle responsible for giving all matter mass. What the hadron collider is going to attempt to do is smash apart sub atomic particles to attempt to catch a glimpse of one of these boson's.

all matter can be broken down into energy and energy turned into matter. einstein proved this with E=MC^2. But something in matter gives it mass that isnt present in energy. hope that helps.
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:55 PM   #5
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matter is believed to have mass due to an as yet undescovered boson. it exists in theory and the theory itself is pretty sound.

Remember a few months ago with all the talk of the HADRON collider and finding the GOD particle? thats exactly what they are looking for, The HiGGS BOSON.

By definition the Higgs Boson is the partcle responsible for giving all matter mass. What the hadron collider is going to attempt to do is smash apart sub atomic particles to attempt to catch a glimpse of one of these boson's.

all matter can be broken down into energy and energy turned into matter. einstein proved this with E=MC^2. But something in matter gives it mass that isnt present in energy. hope that helps.

From my understanding, they are also attempting to identify the gravitron as well.

I'm ignorant on so many levels when it comes to physics, but it's absolutely interesting. The one science that really delves into the possible coalition between the physical and spiritual. This will be a thread I check into often.
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:25 PM   #6
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nice, sounds like a new place for me to ask homework questions
Not exactly what I was going for, but I'll take it.
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so Nate, why does matter have mass
This is one of the foremost questions in modern theoretical physics. I will attempt to explain it as best I can, but I do not currently have the EXTREME mathematical background necessary to completely understand it. The current thinking is this:

All throughout space there exist different fields. Some of these are very familiar, like the electromagnetic field and the gravitational field. For every particle, there exists a field for it. There is theorized to exist a field called the Higgs field. As a particle goes along, minding its own business it interacts with different fields. The theory is that the particles that we know that have mass (like the electron and the proton) GET their mass by interacting with the Higgs field. The particles that DO NOT have mass (like the photon) DO NOT interact with this Higgs field.

But why would some particles interact with the Higgs field and some would not? The current thinking is that VERY early in the universe the different fields "broke." The fields that "broke" are the ones that now have mass. I use the term "broke" to represent a very abstract mathematical concept called "spontaneous symmetry breaking." I am hoping that as I learn more about this, I will be able to explain it more clearly to the layperson.

Tommy mentioned the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The LHC is a HUUUUUUUUUUGE particle collider that has been built in Switzerland. It speeds up subatomic particles until they are travelling at almost the speed of light and smashes them into each other. If the LHC is successful and if the theories are correct, then in these collisions we should be able to detect the particle associated with the Higgs field, which is called the Higgs boson. (A boson is a subatomic particle that represents a force, like the photon [electromagnetic force] or the hypothetical graviton [gravitational force].)
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:54 PM   #7
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Not exactly what I was going for, but I'll take it.
guess i will improve on my "theory" questions though
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:59 PM   #8
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guess i will improve on my "theory" questions though
Nah, man, go for it. It's all about helping people learn and understand.
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:35 PM   #9
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From my understanding, they are also attempting to identify the gravitron as well.

I'm ignorant on so many levels when it comes to physics, but it's absolutely interesting. The one science that really delves into the possible coalition between the physical and spiritual. This will be a thread I check into often.
Unfortunately, the LHC will not be able to detect gravitons. Gravity is so phenomenally weak compared to the other forces at play in the LHC (electromagnetic, weak nuclear, and strong nuclear forces) that it will be irrelevant in the particle collisions that will be taking place.

If you are interested in the intersection of spirituality and physics, I highly suggest the book The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra. It was written in 1975 so some of the physics is outdated, but it is still an extremely interesting and thought-provoking book. Come to think of it, I need to read it again, too.
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Old 09-30-2009, 03:59 PM   #10
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im at work now but ill attempt later to explain one theory of gravity as it pertains to gravity "leaking" into our brane (almost anagalous to universe) from another brane.
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Old 09-30-2009, 04:11 PM   #11
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nice, sounds like a new place for me to ask homework questions
I really wish this thread was up last semester...
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Old 09-30-2009, 05:39 PM   #12
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In classical mechanics, relativity, and even most of quantum physics gravity is uniquely and extremely weaker than the other 3 forces. if gravity was as strong as the other 3 it would be impossible for you to ever jump. gravity only seems so strong because on earth(or any other large object) were dealing with great quantities of it. strangely enough when there is enough gravity present it has the most fantactic and strange effects out of all the other forces. it can change the shape of space.


one theory suggests that gravity is caused by the presence of matter. this is pretty evident. planets, stars, and galaxies have massive gravitation fields. so this beggs the question why is gravity found only in the presence of large amounts of matter and not out in empty space? there is verry small amounts of gravity in empty space but for this discussion this is neglegible. the attractive force of gravity is due to the way gravity changes the shape of space around massive objects. think about getting into a bath tub. when you get in the water has to get out of your way so it rises. this is kind of what large objects do to space. space gets out of the way and warps and twists and you get gravity. but why? and why does it not do this on the quantum scale?

it all goes back to those fields the artist formerly known as sammich was talking about. all particles interract with gravity, even light(photons). light will take a curved path in the presence of gravity. thinking of light purely as a particle is extremely flawed, infact most people have a distorted view on its particle wave duality. however that is a topic for another discussion. so lets get to how gravity happened.

to do this we need to go back before the Big Bang. WHAT?!? yup BEFORE the big bang. But Tom, you say, All math breaks down when you extrapulate the equations back to the singularity! how are we going back before the big bang? well since we live on one Brane in a Multy brane universe something existed somewhere else before our universe. GIANT BRAINS (insert cheesy horror movie from the 50's music here). 2 of these brane's colided but not like clapping your hands together more like of you could turn 2 bodies of water on their side and clap the moving and wavy surfaces together. there was a giant explosion(read expansion) when these 2 branes colided and our universe was formed. it was due to the ripple effect caused by the surfaces of the branes not being flat when they colided that our universe is an unordered mess. meaning that fields Broke as * (the new symbol for the artist formerly known as sammich....kind of like prince ya know) so properly explained. not only did the higgs field become so picky about what it wants to interact with but the gravitational field kind of turned into the same type of snob. funny thing though, the higgs field and the gravitational field kind of like each other. they work pretty well together. it seems that everything that likes to interact with the higgs field and make mass also in larger quantities likes to work with gravity as well. so in each particle that helps propegate gravity there must be a graviton, or simply a particle that interacts with the gravitational field. thing is the LHC wont help us find this because of the first problem. gravity only likes large quantities. on a quantum scale the interaction of gravity cant, by modern standards be measured.......more later.
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Old 09-30-2009, 05:51 PM   #13
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All right... Is it sad that I saw this and the very first thing I was going to ask you was "Where does gravity come from?"

Okay... Lessee... What is time? And how does gravity affect it?
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Old 09-30-2009, 05:56 PM   #14
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All right... Is it sad that I saw this and the very first thing I was going to ask you was "Where does gravity come from?"

Okay... Lessee... What is time? And how does gravity affect it?
TOMMY GO AWAY THIS ONE'S MINE!!!

This is exactly what I have been studying for the past 10 years and I'm pretty damn good at explaining it.

I am currently typing the answer (or the best answer I can come up with, anyway...).
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:02 PM   #15
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Cool thread. I have A LOT of questions lol. I'll do one at a time.

The theory that the universe is always expanding... why, and where can it be expanding into?

I have taken some advanced undergraduate (yes- oxymoron) calc courses so feel free to throw around math terms. I love that stuff.

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Old 09-30-2009, 06:17 PM   #16
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Cool thread. I have A LOT of questions lol. I'll do one at a time.

The theory that the universe is always expanding... why, and where can it be expanding into?

I have taken some advanced undergraduate (yes- oxymoron) calc courses so feel free to throw around math terms. I love that stuff.
* you want this one? i still have to finish gravity.
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:18 PM   #17
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* you want this one? i still have to finish gravity.
Yeah, I'll take it. I can segue nicely from what I am typing into that.
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:25 PM   #18
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* you want this one? i still have to finish gravity.
"I just have one question for you. That's Bob right? That's Johnnie Jackson right? I'm Ben White, right? Who are you?"

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Old 09-30-2009, 06:25 PM   #19
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more on gravity........now i was talking about these 2 fields working together in certain fashions. well fields arent the only snobs on the block, some particles are as well. lets take the photon. the Photon does not interract with the higgs field but due to the nature of how other particles interract with the gravitational field they interract with gravity. or at least they move along the paths gravity specifies for them.

but TOM i thought matter and energy are interchangeable? then why cant energy, like light, create gravity? It can and it cant. Photons are more accurately tightly packed groups of light waves of the same frequency and amplitude.....ahhh back to work...more to come soon
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:43 PM   #20
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All right... Is it sad that I saw this and the very first thing I was going to ask you was "Where does gravity come from?"

Okay... Lessee... What is time? And how does gravity affect it?
Ok I will interpret "where does gravity come from?" as "what is gravity?" Right now the best handle that physics has on gravity is given by Einstein's theory of general relativity. This theory tell us that what we perceive as "gravity" is actually the warping of space and time. Gravity is caused by the presence of mass or energy. To be a little more technical, gravity is the curvature of space-time that is caused by the presence of mass and/or energy.

Now let's explain what we mean by "curvature". The best way I know of to describe this without using some formidable mathematics is by analogy. Say you have an ant walking around on the surface of an apple. Now all the ant can see is the surface of the apple; he can't see that there's an up or down, all he can see is left/right, forwards/backwards. We say that the ant lives in two dimensions, not three. Let's say our ant has an ant friend and they are walking side-by-side, parallel with each other. They are both walking in straight lines. Since they are walking in the same direction, the distance between them never changes.

Now the ants are approaching the top of the apple where the stem is. Let's imagine that the stem will be coming between the ants on their paths. If the ants continue to walk straight on the apple near the stem, all of a sudden they will find that their paths cross! We can see that they walked into the dimple of the apple, where the surface of the apple is CURVED. This "curvature" in the apple deflected the paths of the ants even though they continued to walk in a straight line.

Now they ants will say "DUDE WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?!" Since they cannot see into the 3rd dimension (up & down), they cannot perceive the curve of the apple. We say that the apple curves into the third dimension.

This is completely analogous to the effect of mass and energy creating gravity. In the same way that the stem created a dimple on the surface of the apple, making it curve into another dimension, the presence of matter or energy in our universe makes space curve into another dimension, which we know as “time”. If we travel in a straight line very near a star (which has a large mass), we will find our path has been deflected by the curvature of space. This curvature is produced by the mass of the star. We say that the star has exerted a gravitational force on us that caused us to deviate from our initial straight line. However, if we took the fourth dimension into account, we would see that we actually travelled in a straight line IN FOUR DIMENSIONS! This 4-D straight line is called a “geodesic”.

So according to the general theory of relativity, gravity is the curvature of space (and time) that is caused by the presence of mass. Now remember the good ol’ E=mc^2? That tells us that matter and energy are the same thing. Thus, energy will create gravity as well as matter.

For the second question, I’ll take the latter half first: “How does gravity affect time?” It turns out that gravity makes time go MORE SLOWLY. Let’s say we have two astronauts in orbit around a very large star. The astronauts synchronize their clocks so that they read the same time (12:00 PM) and are running at the same speed. Then one of the astronauts travels right next to the star, so that he can feel its gravity very strongly. He stays there for a while, then travels back to where the second astronaut is. When they compare their clocks, let’s say the clock of the astronaut who was stationary reads 2:00 PM. The clock of the astronaut who was near the star will read a time that is BEFORE 2:00 PM. This is because the presence of gravity SLOWS DOWN TIME!

This happens because in the presence of gravity, time curves into the other space dimensions, just like the space dimensions curve into time! Space and time become all mushed-up together into one entity called spacetime.

To sum up, gravity is the curvature of spacetime caused by the presence of mass or energy. This is general relativity in a nutshell.

Now, “what is time?” Fuck if I know. One way to look at it is that it is another way to “move” (i.e. another dimension). We have 3 space dimensions: up/down, left/right, and forward/back. We also have time. However time is special in that it never seems to go backwards; we can only go forwards in time. Why is that? Nobody really knows.

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Cool thread. I have A LOT of questions lol. I'll do one at a time.

The theory that the universe is always expanding... why, and where can it be expanding into?

I have taken some advanced undergraduate (yes- oxymoron) calc courses so feel free to throw around math terms. I love that stuff.
As near as we can tell, space is expanding. But into what? It turns out the question is wrong. Let’s think of a balloon. As we blow up this balloon, we will find the distance between two points on the balloon will increase. It’s not that there is any new rubber between the points, it’s just that the rubber between them is stretching out.

That is analogous to the way space is expanding. No new space is getting created, it’s just that space itself is getting stretched out. A guy on the balloon wouldn’t think his balloon was expanding into something, he would just think “DUDE WTF that point is getting farther away WTF!”

Now, why is it expanding? The current models suggests that there is something in all space called “dark energy.” We saw earlier that energy will produce gravity. And gravity is always attractive; it always pulls thing together and never pushes apart. We can think of dark energy as being repulsive (although this is technically not correct). If dark energy created gravitational repulsion instead of attraction, then space would expand instead of contract. And if this dark energy were EVERYWHERE in space, then EVERYWHERE would push out against EVERYWHERE, causing the expansion of the universe. Again, this is actually not correct. Dark energy actually has what is called “negative pressure.” This negative pressure is what drives the accelerated expansion of the universe.
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:56 PM   #21
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Physics blows my mind.

Does that mean since the volume of the universe increases, the "negative pressure" decreases, and eventually the expansion of the universe will stop? Not actually stop, but slow down to almost negligible increase in volume over time.
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:20 PM   #22
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Physics blows my mind.

Does that mean since the volume of the universe increases, the "negative pressure" decreases, and eventually the expansion of the universe will stop? Not actually stop, but slow down to almost negligible increase in volume over time.
actually the rate of expansion depends on your distance form another object. the further an object is from you the faster it is moving away from you. dark energy is a term used to describe something we dont really know anything about. our space doesnt need to expand into anything else, it has all the room it needs to expand as much as it wants. it simply creates more room as it expands. that is the reason it would be totally safe to create a new universe in a lab. within a fraction of a second it would "pinch" itself off from our universe and expand in a space all its own. the negative pressure will only decrease if there is enough matter in the universe so that gravity can take over and reverse the process. this will not cause a decrease in pressure rather it will be a greater opposing force. as it stands now the universe will expand to the point where it will eventuall pull atoms and sub atomic particles appart and become a vast expance of uniform energy. there isnt enough matter in the universe to stop the expansion.
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:49 PM   #23
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How many theoretical dimensions are there, and how is this relative to space and time?
What is string theory's role?
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:59 PM   #24
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Thumbs up

Thanks for the responses guys. I don't know what to think lol.

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How many theoretical dimensions are there, and how is this relative to space and time?
What is string theory's role?
I like.
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Old 09-30-2009, 08:09 PM   #25
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"This happens because in the presence of gravity, time curves into the other space dimensions, just like the space dimensions curve into time! Space and time become all mushed-up together into one entity called spacetime."

I wish I could "see" this graphically.
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