Basel: Birkhäuser, 2018. — 286 p.Why do polished stones look wet? How does the Twin Paradox work? What if Jupiter were a star? How can we be sure that pi never repeats? How does a quantum computer break encryption? Discover the answers to these, and other profound physics questions! This fascinating book presents a collection of articles based on conversations and correspondences between the author and complete strangers about physics and math. The author, a researcher in mathematical physics, responds to dozens of questions posed by inquiring minds from all over the world, ranging from the everyday to the profound. Rather than unnecessarily complex explanations mired in mysterious terminology and symbols, the reader is presented with the reasoning, experiments, and mathematics in a casual, conversational, and often comical style. Neither over-simplified nor over-technical, the lucid and entertaining writing will guide the reader from each innocent question to a better understanding of the weird and beautiful universe around us. Advance praise for Do Colors Exist? “Every high school science teacher should have a copy of this book. The individual articles offer enrichment to those students who wish to go beyond a typical ‘dry curriculum’. The articles are very fun. I probably laughed out loud every 2-3 minutes. This is not easy to do. In fact, my children are interested in the book because they heard me laughing so much.” Ken Ono, Emory University.Big Things. What would Earth be like to us if it were a cube? Why does going fast or being lower make time slow down? Why does entropy always increase and what is the “heat death” of the universe? How can photons have energy and momentum but not mass? What is the twin paradox? Why are so many things in space flat disks? Why isn’t the shortest day of the year also the day with the earliest sunset? What is dark energy? Two moving observers see the other moving through time slower. But doesn’t one have to be faster? How close is Jupiter to being a star? What would happen to us if it were? How does Earth’s magnetic field protect us? What would it be like if another planet just barely missed colliding with the Earth? Why is the light from the Big Bang still around? What would happen if you drilled a tunnel through the Earth and jumped down it? How does a gravitational sling shot actually speed things up? How can the universe expand faster than the speed of light? Small Things. Can you do the double slit experiment with a cat cannon? Does true randomness exist? Are atoms really 99.99% empty space? If quantum mechanics says everything is random, then how can it also be the most accurate theory ever? How does a quantum computer break encryption? Is it true that all matter is condensed energy? What are “quantum measurements”? Why do they cause so many problems? What is quantum teleportation? Can we use it to communicate faster than light? Does anti-matter really move backward through time? Why can’t you have an atom made entirely out of neutrons? Does quantum mechanics really say there is more than one me? Where are they? What are “actual pictures” of atoms actually pictures of? What is “spin” in particle physics? What does it mean for light to be stopped or stored? What are quasi-particles? In-Between Things. Do colors exist? Why do wet stones look darker, more colorful, and polished? Why doesn’t the air “sit still” while the Earth turns under it? What is energy? What does E D mc2 mean? If you stood in the beam of a particle accelerator what would happen? Are there quantum effects in everyday life or do they only show up in the lab? What is plasma? How does carbon dating know when something died? How bad would it be if we made a black hole? Do living things and evolution decrease entropy? What are the equations of electromagnetism? What do they actually say? Why is hitting water from a great height like hitting concrete? Not Things. Can sheets be tied in knots in higher dimensions the way strings can be tied in knots in three dimensions? What is a Fourier transform? What is it used for? What is chaos? Can something be completely chaotic? If we find the “Theory of Everything” will science finally be finished? What is the size of infinity? Are all infinities the same size? How do we know that never repeats? Is there a formula for finding primes? Do primes follow a pattern? How good is “Enigma” compared to modern cryptography? Can you fix the “1/0 problem” by defining 1/0 as a new number? Is there such a thing as half a derivative? Why does 0.999... = 1? Figure Credits. Index.
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