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Everything You Wanted to Know About Physics (But Were Afraid to Ask)

I’ve been getting a lot of questions on various comment threads, on Twitter, and in Facebook about physics concepts. So, I got to thinking: if you have a question about physics, any question, post it and I’ll try to answer it. If it’s a question with a detailed answer, it’s likely to become a Physics Quanta post, and I’ll give you props for suggesting it. Don’t worry if it seems like a silly question — remember that most Americans have never taken a physics class, so if you want to know something, probably there are others who want to know it too.

A few points and ground rules:

  • I’m not an expert in all areas of physics by any stretch of the imagination. (My knowledge of nuclear and particle physics in particular is sketchy at best.) If I don’t know the answer, however, I will either research enough to provide some help, or I’ll recruit one of my network of physics friends to help me answer it.
  • Please be respectful. Some people’s knowledge is going to be greater than others, so please respect that other people may not have the same knowledge base you do. I know the limits of my knowledge pretty well, and happily admit I don’t know a lot about certain things.
  • Please do not use this as an excuse to promote your own theories or ideas. I really would like this to be a safe place for anyone to ask questions rather than a soapbox. On the other hand, if you can explain something and want to give it a try, please do. I don’t claim to have the best ways of explaining things.
  • Feel free to ask questions in the comment thread here, or if you want a larger degree of anonymity, send them to me via Twitter, the Galileo’s Pendulum Facebook page, or by email.

(I got the basic idea from Neil deGrasse Tyson, who often will answer general astronomy questions from his followers on Twitter.)

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