In your opinion what are the most elegant physical processes?

  • Thread starter levelzdey
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  • #1
levelzdey
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:

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

Strogatz TED Talk
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Drakkith
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I think this should be posted in the General forum.
 
  • #3
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I like the way a magnetic field creates an electric field and vice-versa and how they form a wave :smile:
 
  • #4
Ivan Seeking
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Surprising

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.
 
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  • #5
MATLABdude
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Life itself, and the complex networks that you find in an ecosystem.
 
  • #6
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I see no elegance in this dusty world. Only in the smoothed out equations that physicists use to model it.
 
  • #7
Life itself, and the complex networks that you find in an ecosystem.
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.
 
  • #8
sensing in living beings, in real times.
 
  • #9
drizzle
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I like how one composes his life his way and form a symphony without realizing it.... Is this related? :biggrin:
 
  • #10
Pythagorean
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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).
 
  • #11
Ivan Seeking
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Elegant

Background – The SOLHYCARB proposal addresses the exploration of an unconventional route for potentially cost effective hydrogen production with solar energy. The novel process thermally decomposes natural gas (NG) in a high temperature chemical reactor heated by concentrated solar energy. This process results in two products: a H2-rich gas and a high-value nano-material, carbon black (CB). H2 is thus produced with renewable energy. Solar energy is stored as a transportable fuel. The fuel has zero CO2 emission: carbon as opposed to CO2 is sequestered. Fossil fuels are saved, and CB is synthesized.

This solar process is described in Figure 1...
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.
 
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  • #12
arildno
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The most elegant physical process?

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

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