Most Mind Blowing Physics statements

1. Jun 7, 2009

um0123

What is the most mind blowing thing you have ever seen thats physcis related. I want to hear things that i never ever thought was true. things like "Because of the uncertainty principle, when you try to prove something is made of matter, it is true, but when you try to prove something is a wave, it is also true." and things like "Quantum entanglement shows that two things can transfer information at faster than light speeds." and "Until we observe the spin of an electron, it has no definite spin, the act of observing it actually forces it to choose a spin, which also forces its entagled partner to choose the opposite spin."

I want to hear things that i never thought were possible.

2. Jun 7, 2009

Unit

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

the most mind-blowing physics idea i've heard of is string theory, in all of its aspects. the idea of 11 dimensions, 3 dimensions of our space, one of time, and a 7-dimensional calabi-yau manifold thing, is so crazy. and inside these calabi-yau manifolds exist tiny rubber bands, strings, whose properties (frequency, primarily, and energy) define it to behave like a particle of the standard model. like, an electron is really a string that vibrates like this and a down-quark is really a string that vibrates like that. i am amazed by the idea of messenger particles, and branes, and how there are open-ended strings that are, as if, "strapped" to the fabric of the universe we live in, where are "closed" strings float freely among everywhere. it is hypothesized that gravity's particles, gravitons, are represented by closed strings, which explains why gravity is so weak - its force-action is not solely restricted to our universe alone. i also love how there were 5 versions of string theory, and then ed witten put them all together as "different mirror reflections of the one same grand unified thing" which was m theory.

i hope the actual string theorists here do not regard me as spewing nonsense :) my knowledge of string theory is just the result of my readings of brian greene, lisa randall, and leonard susskind.

3. Jun 7, 2009

granpa

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

supersolids

4. Jun 7, 2009

atyy

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

Either the declaration that at least one inertial frames exists.

Or the Clausius and Kelvin statements leading to notion of a state function called entropy, which is given by dq/T under some conditions.

5. Jun 8, 2009

ankitpandey

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

well, take this new statement from me -
"matter and wave are the same thing."
i bet, one day you'll read or hear of it somewhere else too.

6. Jun 8, 2009

Lok

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

From BC do not now what year.

All matter is formed out of tiny parts, and if we would ever be able to destroy those parts we would have the power to destroy the world.

It is a bit philosophical but reminds me of the ongoing atomic age.

7. Jun 8, 2009

qlc

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

the fact that nothing can move faster than light
and that the faster you move the slower time moves for you.

8. Jun 8, 2009

protonchain

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

There are billions of neutrinos passing through your fingernail every second.

9. Jun 8, 2009

Cyrus

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

F = ma

Everything is derived from this one equation. It is the most powerful equaiton in all of physics, and it's absolutely non-intutive. I challenge you to find a physics book without this equation in it.

10. Jun 9, 2009

Ghost803

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

Didn't mulligan use that in his oil drop experiment to figure out the charge of an electron?

For me: Time dilation, Length Contraction, the uncertainty principle,

Last edited: Jun 9, 2009
11. Jun 9, 2009

Chi Meson

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

Mulligan kept messing up his first shot at St. Andrews and would ask to take it again. Millikan did the oil drop experiment.

12. Jun 9, 2009

elliotician

You can move through time.

To the extent that if you travel fast enough, you could return to find the earth extinct, or perhaps even the entire universe. Travelling at light speed you would experience zero time and so presumably you can travel to the end of the universe!

I don't study physics but the idea of time being relative to movement has got to be the absolutely most mind blowing statement ever.

13. Jun 9, 2009

Can you please explain why such and such is so?
Certainly, but to be honest I haven't got a clue.

14. Jun 9, 2009

neu

"the electron interferes with itself"

15. Jun 10, 2009

Chi Meson

I've decided on one.

A single photon of light, which would have a small probability of reflecting off the top surface of a thin film, will sometimes change to zero probability of reflection depending on the thickness of the film on the underside of the surface.

After that, anything else to do with photons is a close tie for "second-most-mind-blowing."

16. Jun 10, 2009

Sorry!

When I first read it it blew my mind away... it was awhile ago mind you.

That no objects actually touch each other. If I bounce a basketball off the ground the molecules of the ball never touch the floor.

17. Jun 10, 2009

mgb_phys

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

And Millikan kept messing up the oil drop experiment, but he ignored those measurements.

You're right about the effervescent wave - I always thought it was just a maths trick to get momentum to balance, then my wife did her PhD on sensors made from it.

18. Jun 10, 2009

ExactlySolved

My favorite statement in classical physics is that light is an electromagnetic wave whose speed we can predict from experiments with charged pithballs and current carrying wires!

My favorite statement in relativity is that a static electric field will also have a magetic component when viewed by a moving observer!

Quantum physics has so much predictive power that I cannot possibly choose just one prediction, but the most mind blowing result for me is that because of quantum mechanics the universe violates Bell's inequalities!

I really like the positive spirit of this thread, buy I found Cyrus' post to be so disagreeable that I have to spoil the thread with the following argument:
Hmm, how do you go from Newton's 2nd to Maxwell's equations?

In relativistic quantum mechanics the maxwell fields pop right out of the principle of locality together with the U(1) gauge symmetry of the wavefunction (i.e. the statement that quantum states are only determined up to a phase). In this sense, the quantum version of Hamilton's equations (i.e. Dirac's equation) does allow you to derive E&M.

The logical basis for F = ma is almost never presented, although it is in fact quite simple. If the current state of the universe, the collection of all positions and velocities of all particles, is sufficient to determine the universe's state at a later time, then in particular the second derivative must be determine by those positions and velocities:

x'' = F(x,x')

The concept of "force' is superfluous; the empirical task in mechanics is to determine the form of F(x,x'), e.g. Hooke's law F(x,x') = -k x . Obviously the theoretical task is to determine the motion given knowledge of F(x,x').

How about Howard Georgi's "Lie Algebras in Particle Physics." Heck, there are entire books about classical mechanics at an advanced level that do not mention Newton's law e.g. http://www.worldscibooks.com/physics/3905.html".

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
19. Jun 10, 2009

George Jones

Staff Emeritus
Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

Einstein's equation, $G = 8 \pi T$, of general relativity.

One side of Einstein's equation, $G$,is geometrical and is related to the curvature of spacetime, and the other side, $T$, is related to the distribution of energy/mass/momentum. Since this is an equation, it is impossible to change just one side: change the geometry side and this means that distribution of energy/mass/momentum must also be changed; change the distribution of energy/mass/momentum, and this means geometry must also be changed.

According to John Wheeler, "... (spacetime) geometry tell matter how to move, and matter tells (spacetime) geometry how to curve ..."

20. Jun 10, 2009

Chi Meson

Re: Most Ming Blowing Physics statements

So Millikan took a Mulligan, big deal!