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In your opinion what are the most elegant physical processes?

  1. Jun 15, 2011 #1
    These can be classical or quantum. There is no correct "answer" and everything is based on your preference.

    But in general let us stick to "elegant" processes which arise as "surprising" or "very easy to understand" solutions regardless of how complex the underlying equations and formulations are.

    I'll start things off with:

    Here are some awesome videos related to the topic:
    A demo video

    Strogatz TED Talk
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
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  3. Jun 15, 2011 #2


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    I think this should be posted in the General forum.
  4. Jun 15, 2011 #3
    I like the way a magnetic field creates an electric field and vice-versa and how they form a wave :smile:
  5. Jun 15, 2011 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    Negative mass - for electrons moving in a wire [IIRC]

    Using the Liénard-Wiechert potential for a moving charge: The electric field vector due to the charge, for an observer, points towards [or away from] the charge's present position, even though the retarded potential is used as the basis for the calculation.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  6. Jun 15, 2011 #5


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    Life itself, and the complex networks that you find in an ecosystem.
  7. Jun 15, 2011 #6
    I see no elegance in this dusty world. Only in the smoothed out equations that physicists use to model it.
  8. Jun 16, 2011 #7
    My personal favorites are estuarine wetlands. I wanted Marine Biology after I first saw a grainy video of pro, meta, ana, and telephase. ...but the economic draft of the mid-80' made me choose being a Marine instead. At least I was always near the ocean.
  9. Jun 16, 2011 #8
    sensing in living beings, in real times.
  10. Jun 16, 2011 #9


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    I like how one composes his life his way and form a symphony without realizing it.... Is this related? :biggrin:
  11. Jun 16, 2011 #10


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    came to this thread to say what's already been said: biological systems are the most elegant physical systems from a not-what-Jimmy-Snyder-meant way. That is, the emergent properties of biological systems that we observe are what's elegant. That life can find so many different permutations of perpetuation (i.e. homeostasis) with a finite set of "master genes".

    It is even quite possibly an objective statement to say that biological systems are the most elegant systems in the universe.

    But then, biological systems are also not closed systems, they are required to output heat (entropy) and take in nutrients to maintain homeostasis. They are coupled strongly to their environments, some of which are other biological systems, some of which are geophysical systems (atmosphere, ocean) and some of which are periodic energy sources (the sun and tides).
  12. Jun 18, 2011 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    http://www.pre.ethz.ch/research/projects/?id=solhycarb [Broken]

    Similarly, there is a great deal of elegance in using algae or bacteria to produce hydrocarbon fuels. This is why I am a great fan of using algae to produce biodiesel. Also, burning algae in closed sytems to produce power might even make sense. From CO2 sequestration, to the production of carbon-neutral fuels for transportation, to the remediation of industrial and agricultural waste streams, to producing high-value feed for livestock, the algae energy option functions on many different levels. It is the most elegant energy option that I've ever seen.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  13. Jun 18, 2011 #12


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    The most elegant physical process?

    That must be when a baby breaks into a smile..
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