Physicist Answers Physics Questions From Twitter | Tech Support
Released on 11/07/2023
I'm Jeffrey Hazboun,
I'm a physicist.
Let's answer some questions off the internet.
This is Physics Support.
how do black holes influence the space-time around them?
Anything that's massive will bend space-time.
So if I think about this sheet of elastic
as being space-time with nothing in it,
as soon as I put something that has any mass in there,
it bends space-time around it.
If I then take something really small like this marble
and give it a little bit of oomph,
it'll orbit around that object.
And it's that following curved space-time
is why the earth moves around the sun.
So if I have a really big object
and I look at what that looks like in space-time,
that bends it even more.
The key with a black hole is making something
that's really, really dense,
and as I increase that density,
that stretches the space-time further and further
and further down,
so much that light can't escape that curvature anymore,
and that's what we call a black hole.
wait, what's space-time?
Space-time is the thing that we live in.
It is four dimensions,
three dimensions of space
and adding to that the dimension of time.
It's what we're moving through as we sit still,
it's what we're moving through as we walk through our house.
how do you split an atom?
What you're really doing is you're splitting the nucleus.
And let's say this is the nucleus of a uranium atom,
and what you do is you shoot another particle at it,
usually a neutron,
really, really fast.
And when you shoot it at the nucleus,
the nucleus breaks into pieces,
into a few different pieces that are smaller nuclei.
And when you do that,
it also, as you can see, releases a lot of energy,
and that's where the first nuclear bombs came from
and that's where the energy we get
from nuclear power comes from.
User alir8203 asks,
if the sun just suddenly disappeared,
it would take us eight minutes to find out.
But does earth still orbit where the sun was,
or will it go out of the orbit
immediately after it disappeared?
The answer is it's gonna keep moving around the sun
for another eight minutes.
We don't know here on earth that the sun disappeared
because it takes eight minutes for the light
to get to us from the sun.
It also takes eight minutes for any changes in gravity
to get from the sun to us.
hasn't read a God-damned thing about physics
since high school.
Hey, did you hear about the gravitational waves?
I have heard about the gravitational waves
and I helped publish some of the recent results
about gravitational waves.
In case you haven't been paying attention,
gravitational waves are these expansions
and contractions of space-time
that are traveling through space-time at us
from super massive black holes
at the centers of faraway galaxies.
One of the really neat things about gravitational waves
is they pass unimpeded through the universe.
We can actually get closer to the Big Bang
using observations of gravitational waves.
So they're gonna teach us all kinds of neat stuff
about the early universe.
how do you detect gravitational waves in space-time?
The first way we detected gravitational waves
a few years ago was using lasers in big vacuum tubes.
And you split a laser,
you shoot it down two tubes,
and you keep track of how far apart the mirrors are
using the lasers
to tell you the distance between the mirrors.
That's called LIGO.
The second way that we've learned
to detect gravitational waves
is by using these exotic stars called pulsars.
They are really fast spinning stars
that pulse every time they come into our line of sight.
We watch those pulses over time,
if the pulses arrive a little bit later
or a little bit earlier,
we can attribute that to the expansion
and contraction of space-time between us and those stars.
I'm part of a collaboration
that looks at almost 70 of these stars
in all different directions
and we've been monitoring it for almost 20 years.
I'm genuinely paying you $1,000 if you answer this right.
Is light a wave or a particle?
The answer is that light is both a wave and a particle.
We've known the wave-like properties of light
for a long time.
There's a classic experiment
called the Young's double-slit experiment.
Let's show it to you right now.
Let's take down the lights.
We're gonna take a laser pointer here,
which is not how the original experiment was done.
I'm just gonna take this plate
that has a little tiny slit in it
and point the laser through it.
And what happens is it splits the light
into two different waves
and those waves are a little separated from each other.
They're not quite matched up
because two different waves are meeting up with each other,
and this is what we call interfering,
and that's what gives us that pattern.
There's actually two waves hitting there
and they're constructively interfering.
So the black spots are actually the same
as what you get in noise-canceling headphones.
One of the waves is canceling out the other wave,
and only a wave behaves like this.
Light is actually something bigger
than a wave or a particle,
it's something we call a quantum field
and that quantum field has particle-like characteristics
and wave-like characteristics,
and we can measure both.
So I think you owe me a thousand bucks, dude.
what's the difference between fission and fusion anyway?
Do you wanna go fission with me?
I don't want to be anywhere near where fission is happening.
Fission is where you take a nucleus
that's really big of an atom and you break it into pieces.
Fusion is where you take pieces of atoms
and you push them together to make something bigger.
Fusion is what happens in the sun
where really small nuclei come together,
and that is a huge explosion.
And we've been trying to build something like that on earth
to make energy,
we haven't been able to figure out how to control it yet.
how will the universe end?
The universe will end in the heat death of the universe,
which just means that over time the universe is expanding
and all of the light that we know about
is going to get degraded and absorbed by black holes.
It just gets really cold and really dark.
We won't be able to see anything in the distance
and just nothing.
The heat death of the universe
is not something to worry about
because it's gonna happen 40 to 50 billion years
in the future,
and we're only about 14 billion years
from the beginning of the universe.
wait, are black holes/wormholes actually spheres?
Black holes are pretty much perfect spheres.
If they're spinning,
they are a little bit more expanded around their equator
where they're spinning than at their poles,
but pretty much spheres.
So in that classic image from Interstellar,
you see this pretty much spherical black hole at the center
and then you see all of this light,
which is the light from the other side of the black hole
getting bent around it.
And that disk that you see across the front,
that tells you that the black hole is actually spinning.
And every black hole that we know of is spinning,
like every other star in the universe.
what's so special about special relativity?
Well, that's relative.
Special relativity is special for a few reasons.
Number one, it gives us a universal speed limit,
which is the speed of light.
Nothing can go faster than the speed of light,
and that's unique to Einstein.
He figured this out in 1905
and no one had really thought
that there was any kind of universal speed limit.
Couple other things that are really special
about special relativity are that it tells you
if you're moving close to the speed of light,
time dilates, it gets longer.
So if you're moving really fast,
you experience time more slowly
than someone who's not moving really fast.
can someone explain the twin paradox to me in simple terms?
You have two twins, both on earth,
one of the twins decides to be an astronaut.
She takes off in a spaceship going super fast,
almost the speed of light.
It takes her 50 years to go out to a star and come back.
When the astronaut comes back,
the twin that remained,
she's 50 years older,
the other twin might only be 20 years old
depending on how fast she was going.
And so it's the person in the rocket
that will see time move more slowly
and will only age 20 years.
the speed of light as constant is falsehood.
What's the speed of light in water?
The speed of light as a constant is not a falsehood.
We have a glass of water
and I'm gonna put this pencil in there.
And when I put the pencil in,
the pencil looks bent,
the light that's coming out that you're seeing is bent.
And that bending comes from the fact
that as the light hits it at some angle,
it sort of veers in that direction.
The light's interacting with the water,
it's getting absorbed and remitted.
It's seeing a little bit longer path as it gets scattered,
and it's that that makes the light look like it's bent,
those interactions take a little bit of time,
and that's why we say
that it's effectively moving more slowly.
Between one interaction and the next,
the speed of light is the speed of light.
the question is, how does time dilation work?
Long story short,
time dilation is the fact
that when you're moving really close to the speed of light,
time passes more slowly.
It's pretty simple to write down.
The time that passes for someone who's moving at some speed
is proportional to how time is passing
for someone who's not moving at that speed.
And there's this funky square root down here.
And what matters is the comparison
of how fast that person's moving,
that's what V is,
as compared to the speed of light.
And in that line there.
And as you go faster and faster and faster,
that factor of delta t prime gets longer
and longer and longer,
so time is passing more and more slowly.
When you get to the speed of light,
time no longer passes.
are black holes really wormholes?
Or are wormholes really black holes?
We know black holes exist.
We can see evidence for them out there.
We've seen light around these black holes
and what it looks like.
We've seen the silhouette of a black hole.
Wormholes are a shortcut through space-time
from one place to another.
The first idea of a wormhole
is something called an Einstein-Rosen Bridge.
It would take moving faster than the speed of light
to travel through.
And we have no evidence whatsoever that wormholes exist.
Some physicists have posited
that if we use some of the special characteristics
of quantum field theory,
that maybe we can create tiny, tiny little wormholes
that we can send a signal through
from one place in space-time to another.
And while these have been successful as thought experiments
and successful as computer simulations,
it's not yet been seen in the real world
in a real-life experiment.
you think time travel is possible
under current physics understanding?
No, probably not,
at least not from what we understand right now.
There's a couple of ways to think about
how we might travel in time.
One way is using a wormhole.
Some physicists have done this thought experiment
and written down all of the pieces you would need.
So you build a wormhole that somehow changes
and tunnels through space-time back into the past.
You write down the math for what that wormhole looks like.
The kind of matter that you would need
to hold that wormhole open
doesn't exist in our current understanding of physics.
The type of matter that you would need
to hold a wormhole open is called exotic matter,
things like negative energy density,
which what does that mean?
It means like thinking of something with negative mass.
So I don't know
if we're going to be building a time machine anytime soon
unless we can figure out how to find
and make this exotic matter.
is there anything infinite in the real world,
or is infinity just a concept in our mind?
Infinity is not just a concept in our minds.
The most important infinity that I study
is that the universe is infinite.
So that's a great example of something that's infinite.
We use infinities all the time
when we're making predictions in physics,
and it turns out that the size of the universe is infinite.
The amount of time the universe will be around
is also infinite.
does anybody know the difference between particle physics
and quantum physics, please?
Particle physics is a small part of quantum physics.
And quantum physics is the area of physics
that really studies small stuff
and the interactions on really, really small scales,
but particle physics focuses on the particles
that make up atoms,
the fundamental particles that make up everything around us.
I thought quantum physics was a fanfic.
Quantum physics is how the world works,
but you have to look at a really small scale
to understand what's going on.
If I throw a ball up in the air,
it comes down back into my hand,
that's classical physics.
Quantum physics acts in surprising ways.
So instead of having pure predictions
about what's gonna happen at a quantum level,
we just get probabilities.
There's a 50% chance that this thing is gonna happen,
a 20% chance that this other thing is going to happen.
If you watch a lot of Marvel movies,
I could see why you'd think it was fanfic,
because it gets used anytime you don't know
how to explain the science that you wanna do.
lecturer just asked what Heisenberg contributed to physics
and loads of people answered crystal meth.
That's a different Heisenberg.
The Heisenberg that we know
is a very famous quantum physicist.
He worked with the German government during World War II,
but he's really well known for being one of the people
who figured out all of these rules of quantum mechanics
really early on.
He came up with something called the uncertainty principle.
Basically, if I know one aspect of a particle,
like where it is,
I can't know how fast it's moving very well,
or if I know how fast it's moving,
I can't know where it is.
I just learned about quantum entanglement and I'm shook.
How can two particles be so connected
that they affect each other
even when they're light-years apart?
Is this the secret to long-distance relationships?
Two particles light-years apart can absolutely be connected
if we've set them up in a entangled state.
And what that means is we take two particles
where the measurement has something to do with chance.
So if I roll this dice,
whatever value I get on that face,
I'm gonna get the same value on the other dice
if that's how I've set up the entangled system.
And these two particles can be very, very far apart
from each other.
And this is just how nature works.
The weird part about this is the chance
that no matter how I roll the dice,
whatever it lands on,
the other dice will land on the same exact value.
This is just a fundamental way about how the universe works.
what the hell does the Large Hadron Collider do anyways?
The Large Hadron Collider
is the largest particle accelerator in the world.
It is a huge 10-kilometer circle in Switzerland
where we take two streams of protons.
Protons are a kind of hadron,
hadrons are really heavy particles.
Takes those two streams of protons
and aligns them just right,
they're going almost the speed of light,
not quite, but almost the speed of light,
and smashes them into each other.
The faster you can get those protons to go,
the more stuff comes out of that explosion
when you smash 'em together.
We're making new particles that we haven't seen before.
They're part of nature,
but they take so much energy to make
that they haven't been around since the Big Bang
when the universe was really tiny
and really, really energetic.
So not only are we learning about these fundamental forces,
we're also learning about physics
right at the beginning of our universe.
is string theory really a dead end?
No, it's not a dead end.
String theory is a theory that says,
instead of the fundamental pieces
of the universe being particles,
And these strings can vibrate in different ways.
You can have strings that are long,
you can have strings that are in loops.
And not only does it describe all of particle physics
and quantum mechanics,
some pieces of this actually predict
what quantum gravity would look like,
gravity on a really small scale,
which is not a theory that we have right now.
So those are all the questions for today.
Thanks for such insightful questions.
Thanks for watching Physics Support.
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