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Poo vs Gravity

As a by-product of this FPP about a very large water slide, have just been involved in an inconclusive and heated argument about the physics aspects. Hypothetically, what would happen if, halfway down this very fast waterslide in a raft, you (accidentally or deliberately, it doesn't matter) defecated? [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on May 20, 2014 - 13 answers

I have no IDeaL what I'm doing (IDL programming for absolute dum-dums)

So, I recently got selected to do undergraduate physics research this summer. Great! Awesome! Yay me! However, my research advisor has asked me to use something called IDL to analyze tomographic images of compounds and turn them into 3D images. This is good news, because IDL is used a lot by astronomers to analyze astronomical data, and I want to continue my education in astronomy. But, I've never used IDL ever before. I'm not even sure exactly what it is (a programming language?). My question is this: how do I get up to speed so that I can hit the ground running with my research? Difficulty: Research begins in two weeks. Details: [more inside]
posted by runcibleshaw on Apr 25, 2014 - 12 answers

Calling all chem- physics- and math-philes!

For the grad-level education I want, I need an understanding of chemistry, physics, and calculus at a minimum. I have a BA in a tangentially related field (or will in a couple months). What are the best resources for learning these subjects without spending even more time/money on tuition? [more inside]
posted by Urban Winter on Apr 4, 2014 - 10 answers

How do I weigh this giant box?

I have a large road case (2.5 / 2.5 / 3 feet) that I need to weigh. It is too big to fit on one scale. Would it work to place one scale under each of the 4 wheels and average the 4 weight readings? My physics-fu is not strong enough to figure this one out on my own. Help!
posted by TheCoug on Nov 4, 2013 - 13 answers

A Potentially Electric Question

What is "electric potential"? I've dug through the internet, gone to tutoring, asked my teacher, and nothing has helped. [more inside]
posted by runcibleshaw on Oct 3, 2013 - 26 answers

Solve a physics debate among friends?

My friends and I are having a nearly friendly debate about the effects of superhydrophobic coatings on various items, and we've decided to look here for more input. [more inside]
posted by TomMelee on Sep 5, 2013 - 12 answers

At what pressure is water released from a whale's blow hole?

K, so I've found out through researching this that the water can come out at 200mph, but does anyone know how much pressure the water comes out at? (I've done a fair amount of research on it, but have only found the 200mph bit out. Was hoping I might get some help from the hive.)
posted by sockpim on Jul 15, 2013 - 9 answers

How can I relearn high school subjects?

I want to relearn algebra, chemistry, basic mechanics, and basic physics this summer. For free? [more inside]
posted by Grandysaur on Apr 25, 2013 - 12 answers

Recommended reading on religion and natural laws?

I am a scientifically-minded person who is trying to sort out my religious beliefs. I think it would be helpful to read some debates between deism, atheism, pantheism (Spinozism), and/or a scientifically-grounded theism. Can anyone recommend me books or essays that discuss these topics in ways that are engaging, well-thought-out, and thorough? [more inside]
posted by capricorn on Mar 19, 2013 - 16 answers

Spaghetti Surprise!

I added some red wine to a hot pan containing some carmelized onions and garlic and spices and just-added cold ground turkey. FWOOM the wine ignited as if it were brandy in souvlaki. Wha? [more inside]
posted by mwhybark on Aug 19, 2012 - 12 answers

Nature's egg timer?

What readily available materials change state at a constant, predictable rate in an easily observable manner? [more inside]
posted by londonmark on Aug 15, 2012 - 12 answers

Power Grid: The Game is way more fun than this.

Explain alternating current distribution across "the grid" to me in terms an educated layman can understand. Specifically, I have a question about how to talk about which power plants are providing power to a particular consumer. [more inside]
posted by 256 on May 17, 2012 - 20 answers

.....wat?

I'd really love a detailed explanation of the terms and humor in this math / science related XKCD cartoon. [more inside]
posted by lazaruslong on Apr 25, 2012 - 14 answers

What was that awesome show about the history of physics in the late 80s?

There was a great series about the history of physics on PBS in the late 80s. It featured a combination of very clear explanations of each of the fundamental equations in physics throughout history presented by a very calm, level voiced (almost reverent) narrator and accompanied by fantastic very BBS Hitchhiker's Guide style animation. What was this show? And where can I find it now? [more inside]
posted by smallerdemon on Apr 18, 2012 - 14 answers

Filter that makes laser beam visible?

Are there types of laser light, color or wavelength, whole beam can be seen in daylight conditions with a special eyeglass filter? [more inside]
posted by pallen123 on Mar 6, 2012 - 11 answers

With whom are we sharing the rest of eternity?

If I've gotten the right impression, much of our currently visible universe will eventually be expanded away from us, never to be seen again. Do we already know how much and what parts of our present neighborhood we'll be left huddling with?
posted by Anything on Dec 4, 2011 - 12 answers

You have to do that thing with the thumb over the top and the little butt wiggle at the end.

The Secret Order of Employed Physicists: How did you get there? [more inside]
posted by Jilder on Nov 13, 2011 - 10 answers

Atom Annoying

Is the number of atoms in the universe static (or as near dammit)? [more inside]
posted by liquidindian on Aug 24, 2011 - 10 answers

HELP ME BLOW THEIR MINDS (and then determine the forces involved)

New physics teacher filter: What was the highschool physics lab or demo that made you fall in love with physics? [more inside]
posted by JimmyJames on Aug 13, 2011 - 41 answers

Are giant steps what you take, walking on The Sun (apologies to The Police)?

Can anyone tell me, well, ANYTHING about a person (hypothetically) standing on the sun? [more inside]
posted by argonauta on May 16, 2011 - 44 answers

Boltzmann brain teaser

In his TED talk, Sean Carroll very briefly discusses Feynman's explanation about how the universe we can see and experience is not a statistically lucky perturbation, before moving on to the rest of his lecture. In other words, Feynman seems to discount the "Boltzmann brain" hypothesis, that we're not just the ephemeral product of a lucky shuffle of a metaphorical box full of marbles. Can someone explain this to me in words other than Carroll's, i.e., what evidence Feynman was using to prove his argument?
posted by Blazecock Pileon on May 16, 2011 - 7 answers

Why is entropy necessary for there to be memory?

In the From Eternity to Here episode of the Science Talk podcast, Sean Carroll says that without entropy there could be no memory. Could you provide an explanation of why that is to somebody who's very much a layperson when it comes to thermodynamics? [more inside]
posted by willnot on Apr 21, 2011 - 7 answers

Documentaries about physics

What are some great documentaries (or documentary series) about physics? Note: I'm a physics nerd, and I'm picky. Explanations and caveats inside. [more inside]
posted by gentle on Apr 8, 2011 - 17 answers

Life as lived in the lab - tell me about physicists

What do physicists do all day? What is the lab environment like? Minutiae welcome. [more inside]
posted by Frowner on Apr 7, 2011 - 15 answers

Lengthening your horizons.

How close is the horizon on the moon? On Mercury? On Mars? [more inside]
posted by curious nu on Apr 4, 2011 - 3 answers

Should I pursue my interest and study college physics more?

Should I pursue my interest and study college physics more? Specifically, should I take a year-long calculus-based program, until I get comfortable that I'm on top of it-- and can really judge my level of interest and aptitude fairly? Considering I'm a Junior English major. Also considering that it's been 15 years since HS algebra and I've never been good at math. But I want to be. [more inside]
posted by reenka on Feb 10, 2011 - 31 answers

Help me better understand Buddhism, interconnectedness and consciousness

Can you help me understand a little more about Buddhism so I can enjoy both sides of the discussion in a particular book? [more inside]
posted by studentbaker on Jan 6, 2011 - 13 answers

Does gravity really "attract"?

Is my conception of gravity deeply flawed, or is this bad terminology? [more inside]
posted by curious nu on Oct 23, 2010 - 21 answers

What is everything made out of?

Attn: scientifically minded Mefites! I want to learn about what everything is made out of! [more inside]
posted by Griffinlb on Oct 6, 2010 - 26 answers

Tell me everything there is to know about waves.

I'm interested in learning everything there is to know about waves. Sound waves, ocean waves, light waves, electromagnetic waves, waves in math, in economics, brain waves, etc, etc.... [more inside]
posted by empath on Sep 7, 2010 - 15 answers

Biographies of abstract thinkers wanted

Looking for biographies of scientists or mathematicians. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Jul 27, 2010 - 22 answers

Skim milk + 2% = 1% ?

If you were to combine 1 cup of skim milk and 1 cup of 2% milk, does that essentially give you two cups of 1% milk? [more inside]
posted by ascetic on Jul 14, 2010 - 17 answers

He's raring to go

What's the best software for prepping for college-level hard sciences? [more inside]
posted by anniecat on Apr 28, 2010 - 3 answers

What are the top academic journals in various fields?

What are the best academic journals in each field? [more inside]
posted by ollyollyoxenfree on Jan 30, 2010 - 49 answers

Why do I have explosively angry ice cubes trying to kill me?

I'd like to know the physics of why my ice cubes seem to want to kill me for disturbing their freezing. [more inside]
posted by srboisvert on Jan 13, 2010 - 12 answers

How much more can we reasonably hope to learn from practical physics?

How much more can we reasonably hope to learn from practical physics? [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Jan 5, 2010 - 14 answers

Most effective means of moving hot air?

What is the best way to move hot air? Would it be blowing air across the heat source (ex: wood stove) or suck the air away from the heat source? [more inside]
posted by ascetic on Dec 16, 2009 - 11 answers

Seeking clicking mechanism or design...

What kind of small toys or devices click when you rotate them forwards and backwards? Seeking mechanism or design... [more inside]
posted by pallen123 on Nov 21, 2009 - 13 answers

Uh...hang on, just give me a minute.

What is the most important scientific question of our time? [more inside]
posted by Demogorgon on Oct 12, 2009 - 44 answers

Quotes for a science classroom wall

I'm looking for good quotations about science (particularly physics) and education that are suitable for the wall of a secondary school (ages 11-18) classroom. [more inside]
posted by alby on Sep 28, 2009 - 21 answers

Condensed Matter Forum?

I'm looking for a forum that hosts discussion in the field of condensed matter physics and/or materials science. I'd like a site where scientists can go to ask and answer questions, similar to Ask.Metafilter, but a general forum would be good as well. Does anyone know of such a site?
posted by Aanidaani on Aug 17, 2009 - 2 answers

Under Pressure

How would you get through a black hole? [more inside]
posted by smoke on Aug 3, 2009 - 28 answers

How was it proved that mass exerts the gravitic forces?

How was it proved that gravitation was a function of mass? [more inside]
posted by Lorc on Jul 6, 2009 - 10 answers

Bill Nye should be a Mefite.

What are some simple experiments that help explain complicated phenomena? [more inside]
posted by Christ, what an asshole on Jul 6, 2009 - 15 answers

Is it too late to become an amateur physicist?

Is it too late for me to get into physics? [more inside]
posted by reenum on Jun 30, 2009 - 15 answers

Is expansion slowing down galaxies?

Does expansion of the universe decelerate orbits of planets and/or rotation of galaxies? [more inside]
posted by knave on Jun 16, 2009 - 11 answers

Can I learn quantum mechanics?

I'm reading Quantum: a Guide for the Perplexed and I'm enjoying the graphics, history and simplification of the math and science used to explain quantum mechanics. But I'm reasonably well versed in math and science - I took a year of college physics, linear algebra, and diff eq about ten years ago. Is there any chance of me learning to understand the equations and papers of Planck and Einstein that are the basis of QM? Are there any good books that could help walk someone like me through this stuff? Or am I stuck as a layperson unless I earn a degree in math or physics?
posted by Grundlebug on May 30, 2009 - 14 answers

So ET won't be picking up the Olympic Games in 1936 Berlin?

Do radio waves attenuate and become noise or do they go on forever? [more inside]
posted by MrMulan on May 12, 2009 - 14 answers

Help a UK teacher get to San Francisco

ForeignTeacherFilter: I'm a secondary (11-19yrs) science teacher in the UK and want to teach in the San Francisco area from 2010 for a few years at least. Will probably have to go private at first due to accreditation process - any recommendations for schools to contact? [more inside]
posted by bullox on May 3, 2009 - 6 answers

What is nature's formulary?

Physics-filter: in the context of a diatribe against memorization, a physics professor of mine once mentioned that she fell in love with the discipline because all of modern physics can be derived from a few foundational equations. So, what are they? [more inside]
posted by perissodactyl on Mar 18, 2009 - 16 answers

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