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Junkyard Physics?

  1. Aug 27, 2011 #1
    I am new to this forum, and I hope that my presence will be accepted. My degrees are in Eng/Pol-sci so I am not trained in classical or theoretical physics, just general science.

    My point is that there are some of us that are unable to read formulas, or to prove points with high tech equipment. We can only rely upon what I call "Junkyard Physics".

    I am here to learn as well as teach. I feel as that I might be able to contribute by translating some of the more interesting topics into a "common" example for those of us that are "dumb" in physics, but not so "dumb" in other areas.

    I hope that the more learned members will tolerate us meddlers as we try to understand highly technical ideas out here in the "junkyard".

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2011 #2
    I don't think "junkyard physics" will go over well here.

    Before translating it's a good idea to have knowledge of both "languages".

    You will find the physicsts are very capable of "translating" themselves. Absent popular and simplistic explanations such as those of Michio Kaku on tv for example, you'll come to find that physicsts take great care in expressing themselves with great precision. People like Ed Witten and Stephen Hawking and Leonard Susskind, for example, have a depth of understanding the enables them to carefully qualify their insights.
  4. Aug 27, 2011 #3
    So.............I gather then that the air here is too rarified for us mere gnats, and thus reserved only for mighty Eagles?

    I have read Hawking and others and they do distill their complex thoughts into a format that the "average" reader can understand.

    That is my point. I see several answers to questions that either say the same thing in different forms, or are so technical that they soar out of the reach of the though processes of us mere gnats.

    I was just wondering if there is room for us.
  5. Aug 27, 2011 #4

    Doc Al

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    What do you mean by 'junkyard physics'? Common sense? That is often wrong.
    All are welcome here, but attempting to 'teach' things that you don't quite understand yourself will be a problem, if that's what you mean.
  6. Aug 27, 2011 #5


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    The point is that you shouldn't be trying to explain physics to someone if you don't understand it yourself. It doesn't mean that you can't participate in the discussion otherwise. People here do try to simplify explanations to Joe Average level when asked.
  7. Aug 27, 2011 #6
    I don't know what "Junkyard Physics" means, but if refers to simple and proper explanations I like it. I believe Richard Feynman made a point of finding simple explanations.
    On the other hand, I strongly reject wrong statements, conceived to give a false sense of simplicity.
  8. Aug 27, 2011 #7
    I don't believe that I said that I don't understand some physics, but that I had not been trained in it enough to understand equations and some terminology. I have probably read as much, or more than many of you here on a wide variety of subjects (including physics). My contintion is that "junkyard physics" is to classroom and textbook physics as engineering is to the junkyard fabricator. One can draw it the other can build it, or in some cases both can do the same thing through different means.

    I don't need a Piled Higher and Deeper to understand the basics.
  9. Aug 27, 2011 #8


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    We have several of what I would call "junkyard" physicists here, they do pretty well. The key is knowing your limitations. As long as you stick to topics you are truly knowledgeable in then there will be no issues.
  10. Aug 27, 2011 #9
    I still don't get the gist of this thread. Are we discussing whether a higher degree is necessary to enjoy Physics?
  11. Aug 27, 2011 #10


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    To enjoy?, no. To understand?, yes.
  12. Aug 27, 2011 #11


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    I'm disappointed too. I hoped this would be about the super strong electromagnets they use on junkyards to lift cars.
  13. Aug 27, 2011 #12

    Doc Al

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    Just another 'bait and switch'.
  14. Aug 27, 2011 #13
    Here's a math formula: [tex]e=mc^2[/tex]
    It encodes the equivalence of energy and mass and gives the conversion factor between units of the two. But away with formulae, what is the junkyard explaination of this equivalence?
  15. Aug 27, 2011 #14
    By some of these replies I am wondering whether some of the posters are deliberately trying to be obtuse, are generally puzzled, or are attempting wit.

    I'm trying to say that not all of use have advanced degrees in physics. For those that don't, but still have a rudimentary knowledge, it is helpful to have "intermediaries' to help explain things.

    It seems that a lot of folks want to "show off' their advanced knowledge. Which is fine if your "preaching" to the upper levels of the forum.

    My point is that some of us are interested in asking questions, and maybe even answering questions without having to go dig up Einstein for private tutoring.

    Think of us "Junkyard physicists" as the people that ride the short bus.
  16. Aug 27, 2011 #15


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    I'll take that as a compliment, thank you very much. :biggrin:
  17. Aug 27, 2011 #16
    The formulation gives you the stucture to calculate how to move an object (m)mass to a certain velocity (C) using a quantity of energy(E).

    How much nitro methane do I need to move a dragster down a quarter mile strip (at 300 mph) without having to carry any extra weight in fuel.

    Similar is it not?

  18. Aug 27, 2011 #17

    Doc Al

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    Not even close. Well, so much for 'junkyard physics'.
  19. Aug 27, 2011 #18
    I say he gets banned within 4 hours. Any takers?
  20. Aug 27, 2011 #19


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    LOL, good one.

    So much for knowing limitations.
  21. Aug 27, 2011 #20
    An equation derived by the twentieth-century physicist Albert Einstein, in which E represents units of energy, m represents units of mass, and c2 is the speed of light squared, or multiplied by itself.

    Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/e-mc2#ixzz1WFn8RkvZ

    Where am I not close?

    I said basically the same thing other than using (C2) as the speed of light. Where was I wrong?
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