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The models, theories, and laws we devise sometimes imply the existence of objects or phenomena that are as yet unobserved. These predictions are remarkable triumphs and tributes to the power of science. It is the underlying order in the universe that enables scientists to make such spectacular predictions. However, if experimentation does not verify our predictions, then the theory or law is wrong, no matter how elegant or convenient it is. Laws can never be known with absolute certainty because it is impossible to perform every imaginable experiment to confirm a law for every possible scenario. Physicists operate under the assumption that all scientific laws and theories are valid until a counterexample is observed. If a good-quality, verifiable experiment contradicts a well-established law or theory, then the law or theory must be modified or overthrown completely.

The study of science in general, and physics in particular, is an adventure much like the exploration of an uncharted ocean. Discoveries are made; models, theories, and laws are formulated; and the beauty of the physical universe is made more sublime for the insights gained.

Summary

  • Physics is about trying to find the simple laws that describe all natural phenomena.
  • Physics operates on a vast range of scales of length, mass, and time. Scientists use the concept of the order of magnitude of a number to track which phenomena occur on which scales. They also use orders of magnitude to compare the various scales.
  • Scientists attempt to describe the world by formulating models, theories, and laws.

Conceptual questions

What is physics?

Physics is the science concerned with describing the interactions of energy, matter, space, and time to uncover the fundamental mechanisms that underlie every phenomenon.

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Some have described physics as a “search for simplicity.” Explain why this might be an appropriate description.

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If two different theories describe experimental observations equally well, can one be said to be more valid than the other (assuming both use accepted rules of logic)?

No, neither of these two theories is more valid than the other. Experimentation is the ultimate decider. If experimental evidence does not suggest one theory over the other, then both are equally valid. A given physicist might prefer one theory over another on the grounds that one seems more simple, more natural, or more beautiful than the other, but that physicist would quickly acknowledge that he or she cannot say the other theory is invalid. Rather, he or she would be honest about the fact that more experimental evidence is needed to determine which theory is a better description of nature.

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What determines the validity of a theory?

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Certain criteria must be satisfied if a measurement or observation is to be believed. Will the criteria necessarily be as strict for an expected result as for an unexpected result?

Probably not. As the saying goes, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

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Can the validity of a model be limited or must it be universally valid? How does this compare with the required validity of a theory or a law?

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Problems

Find the order of magnitude of the following physical quantities. (a) The mass of Earth’s atmosphere: 5.1 × 10 18 kg; (b) The mass of the Moon’s atmosphere: 25,000 kg; (c) The mass of Earth’s hydrosphere: 1.4 × 10 21 kg; (d) The mass of Earth: 5.97 × 10 24 kg; (e) The mass of the Moon: 7.34 × 10 22 kg; (f) The Earth–Moon distance (semimajor axis): 3.84 × 10 8 m; (g) The mean Earth–Sun distance: 1.5 × 10 11 m; (h) The equatorial radius of Earth: 6.38 × 10 6 m; (i) The mass of an electron: 9.11 × 10 −31 kg; (j) The mass of a proton: 1.67 × 10 −27 kg; (k) The mass of the Sun: 1.99 × 10 30 kg.

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Use the orders of magnitude you found in the previous problem to answer the following questions to within an order of magnitude. (a) How many electrons would it take to equal the mass of a proton? (b) How many Earths would it take to equal the mass of the Sun? (c) How many Earth–Moon distances would it take to cover the distance from Earth to the Sun? (d) How many Moon atmospheres would it take to equal the mass of Earth’s atmosphere? (e) How many moons would it take to equal the mass of Earth? (f) How many protons would it take to equal the mass of the Sun?

a. 10 3 ; b. 10 5 ; c. 10 2 ; d. 10 15 ; e. 10 2 ; f. 10 57

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For the remaining questions, you need to use [link] to obtain the necessary orders of magnitude of lengths, masses, and times.

Roughly how many heartbeats are there in a lifetime?

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A generation is about one-third of a lifetime. Approximately how many generations have passed since the year 0 AD?

10 2 generations

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Roughly how many times longer than the mean life of an extremely unstable atomic nucleus is the lifetime of a human?

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Calculate the approximate number of atoms in a bacterium. Assume the average mass of an atom in the bacterium is 10 times the mass of a proton.

10 11 atoms

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(a) Calculate the number of cells in a hummingbird assuming the mass of an average cell is 10 times the mass of a bacterium. (b) Making the same assumption, how many cells are there in a human?

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Assuming one nerve impulse must end before another can begin, what is the maximum firing rate of a nerve in impulses per second?

10 3 nerve impulses/s

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About how many floating-point operations can a supercomputer perform each year?

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Roughly how many floating-point operations can a supercomputer perform in a human lifetime?

10 26 floating-point operations per human lifetime

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Questions & Answers

when I click on the links in the topics noting shows. what should I do.
Emmanuel Reply
can we regard torque as a force?
Emmanuel Reply
Torque is only referred a force to rotate objects.
SHREESH
thanks
Emmanuel
I need lessons on Simple harmonic motion
Emmanuel
what is the formulae for elastic modulus
Ark Reply
Given two vectors, vector C which is 3 units, and vector D which is 5 units. If the two vectors form an angle of 45o, determine C D and direction.
AFLAX Reply
At time to = 0 the current to the DC motor is reverse, resulting in angular displacement of the motor shafts given by angle = (198rad/s)t - (24rad/s^2)t^2 - (2rad/s^3)t^3 At what time is the angular velocity of the motor shaft zero
Princston Reply
3s
Basit
what is angular velocity
Sadiku
In three experiments, three different horizontal forces are ap- plied to the same block lying on the same countertop. The force magnitudes are F1 " 12 N, F2 " 8 N, and F3 " 4 N. In each experi- ment, the block remains stationary in spite of the applied force. Rank the forces according to (a) the
Sadiku
Given two vectors, vector C which is 3 units, and vector D which is 5 units. If the two vectors form an angle of 45o, determine C D and direction.
AFLAX
ty
Sharath
CD=5.83 n direction is NE
Ark
state Hooke's law of elasticity
Aarti Reply
Hooke's law states that the extension produced is directly proportional to the applied force provided that the elastic limit is not exceeded. F=ke;
Shaibu
thanks
Aarti
You are welcome
Shaibu
thnx
Junaid
what is drag force
Junaid
A backward acting force that tends to resist thrust
Ian
solve:A person who weighs 720N in air is lowered in to tank of water to about chin level .He sits in a harness of negligible mass suspended from a scale that reads his apparent weight .He then dumps himself under water submerging his body .If his weight while submerged is 34.3N. find his density
Ian Reply
please help me solve this 👆👆👆
Ian
The weight inside the tank is lesser due to the buoyancy force by the water displaced. Weight of water displaced = His weight outside - his weight inside tank = 720 - 34.3 = 685.7N Now, the density of water = 997kg/m³ (this is a known value) Volume of water displaced = Mass/Density (next com)
Sharath
density or relative density
Shaibu
density
Ian
Upthrust =720-34.3=685.7N mass of water displayed = 685.7/g vol of water displayed = 685.7/g/997 hence, density of man = 720/g / (685.7/g/997) =1046.6 kg/m3
1046.8
R.d=weight in air/upthrust in water =720/34.3=20.99 R.d=density of substance/density of water 20.99=x/1 x=20.99g/cm^3
Shaibu
Kg /cubic meters
how please
Shaibu
Upthrust = 720-34.3=685.7N vol of water = 685.7/g/density of water = 685.7/g/997 so density of man = 720/g /(685.7/g/997) =1046.8 kg/m3
is there anyway i can see your calculations
Ian
Upthrust =720-34.3=685.7
Upthrust 720-34.3
=685.7N
Vol of water = 685.7/g/997
Hence density of man = 720/g / (685.7/g/997)
=1046.8 kg/m3
so the density of water is 997
Shaibu
Yes
Okay, thanks
Shaibu
try finding the volume then
Ian
Vol of man = vol of water displayed
I've done that; I got 0.0687m^3
Shaibu
okay i got it thanks
Ian
u welcome
Shaibu
HELLO kindly assist me on this...(MATHS) show that the function f(x)=[0 for xor=0]is continuous from the right of x->0 but not from the left of x->0
Duncan Reply
I do not get the question can you make it clearer
Ark
Same here, the function looks very ambiguous. please restate the question properly.
Sharath
please help me solve this problem.a hiker begins a trip by first walking 25kmSE from her car.she stops and sets her tent for the night . on the second day, she walks 40km in a direction 60°NorthofEast,at which she discovers a forest ranger's tower.find components of hiker's displacement for each day
Liteboho Reply
Take a paper. put a point (name is A), now draw a line in the South east direction from A. Assume the line is 25 km long. that is the first stop (name the second point B) From B, turn 60 degrees to the north of East and draw another line, name that C. that line is 40 km long. (contd.)
Sharath
Now, you know how to calculate displacements, I hope? the displacement between two points is the shortest distance between the two points. go ahead and do the calculations necessary. Good luck!
Sharath
thank you so much Sharath Kumar
Liteboho
thank you, have also learned alot
Duncan
No issues at all. I love the subject and teaching it is fun. Cheers!
Sharath
cheers!
Liteboho
cheers too
Duncan
hii
Lakshya
hii too
Siciid
haye
Siciid
yes
Siciid
yes
Lakshya
shggggg
Lakshya
you mean
Siciid
solution problems
Siciid
what is the definition of model
matthew Reply
please is there any way that i can understand physics very well i know am not support to ask this kind of question....
matthew
yes
Duncan
prove using vector algebra that the diagonals of a rhombus perpendicular to each other.
Baijnath Reply
A projectile is thrown with a speed of v at an angle of theta has a range of R on the surface of the earth. For same v and theta,it's range on the surface of moon will be
Roshani Reply
0
Keshav
what is soln..
Keshav
o
Duncan
Using some kinematics, time taken for the projectile to reach ground is (2*v*g*Sin (∆)) (here, g is gravity on Earth and ∆ is theta) therefore, on Earth, R = 2*v²*g*Sin(∆)*Cos(∆) on moon, the only difference is the gravity. Gravity on moon = 0.166*g substituting that value in R, we get the new R
Sharath
Some corrections to my old post. Time taken to reach ground = 2*v*Sin (∆)/g R = (2*v²*Sin(∆)*Cos(∆))/g I put the g in the numerator by mistake in my old post. apologies for that. R on moon = (R on Earth)/(0.166)
Sharath
state Newton's first law of motion
Awal Reply
Every body will continue in it's state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by an external force.
Kumaga
if you want this to become intuitive to you then you should state it
Shii
changing the state of rest or uniform motion of a body
koffi
if a body is in rest or motion it is always rest or motion, upto external force appied on it. it explains inertia
Omsai
what is a vector
smith
a ship move due north at 100kmhr----1 on a River flowing be due east on at 25kmperhr. cal the magnitude of the resultant velocity of the ship.
Emmanuel Reply
The result is a simple vector addition. The angle between the vectors is 90 degrees, so we can use Pythagoras theorem to get the result. V magnitude = sqrt(100*100 + 25*25) = 103.077 km/hr. the direction of the resultant vector can be found using trigonometry. Tan (theta) = 25/100.
Kumar
103.077640640442km/h
Peter
state Newton's first law of motion
Kansiime Reply
An object continues to be in its state of rest or motion unless compelled by some external force
Alem
First law (law of inertia)- If a body is at rest, it would remain at rest and if the body is in the motion, it would be moving with the same velocity until or unless no external force is applied on it. If force F^=0 acceleration a^=0 or v^=0 or constant.
Govindsingh
Practice Key Terms 5

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Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 1. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12031/1.5
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