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Questions tagged [physics]

Physics is the natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.

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Why is the complex number an integral part of physical reality?

In modern physics, the quantum wave distribution function necessarily uses complex numbers to represent itself. If physics defines the physical reality, then what we are saying by the statement above ...
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14answers
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Do fundamental concepts in physics have any logical basis?

After years of studying physics I am suddenly struck by the question - What is energy? Wikipedia defines it thus: Energy is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on ...
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7answers
1k views

How much philosophy should a physicist know?

I began to read Hawking's recent book 'A Grand Design' some time ago and noticed that he savages philosophy. He says '...philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in ...
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9answers
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What distinguishes cause from effect when they are simultaneous?

At a high level, distinguishing cause and effect is typically easy enough: the cause comes first. I drop a ball off a roof; therefore, it falls and hits the ground. But on a fundamental level, physics ...
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11answers
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What are some arguments against the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment?

I read this article about how this guy in Switzerland did an experiment that he thought proved the Simulation Hypothesis of reality (link: http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.1847). I have also been reading ...
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8answers
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Is time a physical factor or just a concept?

When thinking of cycles and myths, one cannot pass the idea of Kronos or Kali. That brought me to form some questions about the nature of time. Three definitions for time: Time is a measure of the ...
14
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1answer
323 views

Are mathematical suppositions of physical theories determined uniquely according to Aristotle and Plato?

Does mathematics apply to physics in one way or multiple ways? What do Aristotle and Plato think? It would seem that Aristotle thinks mathematics can be applied to physics in one way only because, ...
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12answers
2k views

How could our universe suddenly appear out of nothingness?

How could our universe suddenly appear out of nothingness? I understand that the big bang created all things but how could it when nothingness is purely the absence of everything?
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7answers
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How can I develop my critical thinking skills?

I am a freshman engineering student going to college. I want to learn how to think critically and to become a critical thinker and a sharp arguer. I am interested in philosophy, because I am curious ...
11
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2answers
791 views

Euler's 1746 philosophy paper

In 1746, Euler, a famous mathematician, published what I believe to be a little-known philosophy paper. It seems interesting, but it is difficult for me to follow as I lack adequate philosophy ...
10
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10answers
13k views

Was Einstein a philosopher?

Albert Einstein described the fact that he believed in 'god'; yet, he did not define that god as a personal god who actually existed as a separate being. He used the concept to describe everything ...
10
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1answer
558 views

How did materialists historically fit magnetism into their model?

Going by its Wikipedia page, materialism has been largely discredited due to advances in physics as it cannot explain phenomena such as gravity which apparently exist without the connivance of matter. ...
10
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2answers
398 views

What is the ontological status of information that is permanently inaccessible to any conceivable observer?

Rovelli & others, in Relational Quantum Mechanics (RQM) take the simple ontological picture of the Copenhagen Picture and relativise it. This is what I was suggesting in this question, though I ...
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5answers
3k views

Can we be Boltzmann brains? Or, how can we be sure there is no conspiracy about the past?

The way things are traditionally presented about time, there is the present, the past is fixed, and the future is open. The second law of thermodynamics is invoked. But how can we be so sure the past ...
9
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3answers
640 views

Does free will require an event to occur without a predecessor (thereby violating causality)?

From my understanding, a Mixed Quantum State defines the set of all probable outcomes for a system, but isn't there still only one outcome determined through the succession of factors leading up to it ...
9
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3answers
1k views

Can the observer be the observed?

As a supplement to this question as to whether particles can be observers, supposing that the answer is yes. One could suppose a setup where particle A is observing particle B, but what to stop us ...
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5answers
540 views

Is there a known limit to relationship between physics and mathematics?

I am much interested in discussions such as Wigner's "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences". It's quite amazing that mathematics so well applies to our universe, and ...
8
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5answers
711 views

Can anything truly be simultaneous?

I was looking at a discussion about simultaneous causation and something that came up was that all physical processes take time. So nothing can truly be simultaneous. And yet, we have philosophers ...
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5answers
450 views

Are artificially synthesized chemical elements natural?

Humans have synthesized elements that do not exist in nature, at least not around here. This strikes me as a serious philosophical hairball: where does a philosophical naturalist put these critters? ...
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5answers
2k views

Is the delayed choice quantum eraser a refutation of principle of causality? How does contemporary philosophy make sense of it?

Causality, as per Wiki Is the relation between an event (the cause) and a second event (the effect), where the first event is understood to be responsible for the second. For this relationship ...
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4answers
438 views

What philosophical problem did Newton solve?

In a philosophy 101 lecture I listened to recently, the lecturer said that if a philosopher is successful and is able to solve a philosophical question for good, the topic of that question branches ...
6
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4answers
353 views

Does Aristotle inspire late-20th or 21st century physicists?

Is there anything a late-20th or 21st century physicist can learn from antique philosophy of nature as stated by Aristotle? Is there any new inspiring notion or thought? Note. I do not ask about the ...
6
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4answers
968 views

Why can the human mind perceive things that are not reality, despite being born from it?

If man is born from the universe, we are a product of the universe. This much is certain. However we as people have the ability to fabricate thoughts and ideas that are completely fictional and ...
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5answers
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Are “'why' questions” useful in or applicable to the study of science?

Based on the lively discussion of this question over at physics.stackexchange, I thought it might be useful to ask it here as well. The kernel of the debate is whether or not "why" questions are ...
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5answers
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Can 'Nothing Exist before we measure it'?

Bohr famously said in relation to quantum systems: Nothing exists until we measure it This can't be right, for how can we measure Nothing, something that doesn't exist. It seems it must come into ...
6
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4answers
188 views

Must time pass in order for causality to operate?

Motivation; It is perhaps quite well known that things in a faster moving frame of reference perceive time as passing slower. (This is in fact special relativity and it doesn't account for behavior ...
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2answers
626 views

Where does Aristotle's Posterior Analytics disagree with modern philosophy of science?

Aristotle's Posterior Analytics is the basis of the modern scientific method of arguing from effects to the causes of things ("demonstration quia" or "a posteriori"). The ideal [of a unified ...
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6answers
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Is it theoretically possible for a bottomless pits to exist in a finite universe?

Assuming that our universe is finite, is it still theoretically possible to have a bottomless pit? This all really depends on the definition of bottomless pit. I don't know that I can accurately ...
5
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3answers
216 views

Which physical phenomena are not objects?

I come from the world of OOP programming and I find OOP terms convenient to describe everything that has properties or fields and possibly some actions that may be applied to its properties/fields. ...
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5answers
1k views

How to understand numbers that become really large?

If we begin with a notion of number N that we denote F(N) as a function of time, can a decidable procedure exist on definability of the growth of numbers? Inspired by Tipler's Omega point and Thomson'...
5
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7answers
230 views

One big theory of Everything (TOE) or multiple “domain specific” theories?

It's common to hear that physicists are trying to find a Theory of everything (TOE). We "logically" consider the more elegant / concise theory as true ... because beauty is thruth ... or is it ? What ...
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3answers
272 views

Are variational principles/Heron's principle final causes?

[EDIT: My question can be refined to, how does Heron's account of the behavior of light fit into a classical causal account of nature? Especially, is his account a kind of natural locomotion in ...
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3answers
2k views

What would a fractal universe tell us about Time?

To begin with let's look at what is known as the coastline paradox. Briefly it goes like this: If you measure the circumference of Britain with a 1km long stick, and then do the same with a 100m long ...
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2answers
143 views

Discovering inter-atomic forces or taking Newtons law seriously

I've already asked this question on Physics.SE, but it got no response; its not a conventional physics question, but really on how to interpret physical equations and physics. Newtons law of gravity ...
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2answers
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If we aren't approaching the final theory, does it mean there's an infinite number of natural laws?

A lot say that with every next step we make in science comes always a set of new questions. I think this means there's an infinite number of questions we can ask about the natural laws. And that means ...
5
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1answer
376 views

Why do philosophical discussions of the teleportation paradox seem to ignore the physics involved?

When I read philosophy treatments of the teleportation paradox and related subjects like swampman, they seem to focus primarily on drawing analogies to various entirely different scenarios (...
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2answers
295 views

How would you describe the relationship of science and philosophy of science?

How would you describe the relationship of science and philosophy of science? Is it a worldview that sets a tone to scientific jargon? I mean that statements of eg. physics are under submission of the ...
5
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1answer
177 views

Should turbulence be thought of as a saturated phenomenon?

Turbulence appears in many ways, independently of the system that supports its manifestations. In all cases, it can be seen that: a) Its manifestations are irreversible, in the sense that one cannot ...
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4answers
217 views

Why are physical laws so simple?

Many of the most general physical laws are very simple, from Einstein's law of General Relativity to Schrodinger's Equation in quantum mechanics. Why aren't are most basic physical laws incredibly ...
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5answers
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What is the opposite of the reductionist approach?

I am searching for two opposite words in philosophy of science to describe two opposite approaches in physics. To illustrate what I am searching for I will use statistical physics and particle physics ...
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4answers
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Physics, Theoretical Understanding and the Limits of Human Knowledge/Understanding

During an interview with Discover magazine, Roger Penrose makes the claim that a lot of the most theoretical physics, a la the physical theories that try to account for the discrepancies and ...
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2answers
399 views

Is the conservation of matter/energy principle and 'quanta' of Physics implicit in Lucretius ontology?

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophys entry on Lucretius has: "First comes, in effect, Lucretius' ontology. Nothing comes into being out of nothing or perishes into nothing. The only two per se ...
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6answers
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Does all matter exist forever?

I was reading about non-duality (spirituality / philosophy) that discusses the idea that everything in reality is one, since any matter can become any other matter, (a tree can become a chair and a ...
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2answers
147 views

Can an extensionless atom be also round?

In Nyaya-Vaisesika atomic theory atoms are both considered to be both without magnitude and round. How is this possible? For anything to be round, it must have at least a non-zero radius which ...
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2answers
237 views

Does Alvin Plantinga's solution to the problem of divine action entail a total denial of the applicability of Newtonian physics to the world?

Alvin Plantinga offers at least two major solutions to the problem of divine action; that physical laws of the Newtonian sort are (often implicitly) qualified to apply only to causally closed systems, ...
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3answers
123 views

Name of approaches of physics in terms of laws vs in terms of correlations?

I am not an expert in epistemology and I am currently searching for the name of a particular approach in physics (an historical one). Since Galileo, the role of the physicist is to simplify the ...
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1answer
221 views

What are the philosophical implications of the fact that Rule 110 is universal?

I just read the Wikipedia article on Rule 110 and there was a short remark that the simplicity of that rule might imply that it can exist in physical systems in nature. "Physical systems may also be ...
4
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1answer
42k views

What does Einstein's quote “If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts” mean? [closed]

What did Einstein really mean by saying: If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.
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2answers
77 views

Are all unobservables in physics very small?

Are all unobservables in physics very small? I think I've read that the interior of the sun is an unobservable, and so entity realists like Ian Hacking have to claim we can't know anything at all ...
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6answers
482 views

What is the basis for attributing discontinuity to space-time?

Speaking of the discrete orbits of electrons, Bertrand Russell asks the following: "Do we know that, between one orbit and the next, other orbits are geometrically possible? Einstein has led us ...