Dr. Katrina Hay, Physics Curiosity Questions
I collect these questions each year from students before they take physics.
This is a wonderful collection of uninhibited natural world questions!

Curiosity Questions Submitted by Students in Physics 153, Fall 2016

When I hear physics discussed beyond the fundamentals, I often hear mass described as a type of energy (maybe specifically in relativistic physics?). I guess I'd like some clarification if at all possible within the scope of the class.

What is the significance of dark matter in contributing to our understanding of the universe? Is it detectable? How can gravitational fields be mapped and explained with mathematics and physics?

Is it possible to land a man on mars?

How do we calculate the expected force that a magnet would apply on an object? How does electricity affect the power of a magnet?

I have had long debates with friends regarding the future longevity of earth as well as how long it has been around. Are the physics of our planet truly in flux with each passing day or are the laws of things set in stone?

How many subatomic particles such as the Higgs Boson have been discovered, and what are each of their implications on matter?

What is dark matter and dark energy?

I am curious as to how a computer works from the atom up. It is one thing to say there are logic gates which when put in correct sequences are capable of creating things like RAM and NAND or even the ALU and Registers, but with the levels upon levels of abstraction, it becomes so very easy to lose track of just what is going on. Now more than ever this is important to understand the underlying structures and dynamics as we approach the physical limits of classical computing and seek out new methods of computation.

I have heard a little bit about the discovery of "Q-carbon", how do you think that is discovery will change our technology?

How was the exact circumference of the Earth discovered?

What are the physics behind a black hole?

Is there anything in the real world that doesn't relate to physics in any way?

I've always been interested in the space/universe and physics (how we can apply physics to understand the universe).

How does the field of physics relate to space and our exploration of it?

Do you think there are possibly more states of matter at higher pressures and temperatures that have been reached?

What is wave-particle duality?

Movies. Why are they so inaccurate?

I've been curious about the physics behind the interactions between magnetic fields.

Why do boomerangs come back?

When does the sky become space?

How weight distribution on roads contributed to fractures and strain on the payment?

I'm really curious about nuclear physics and how physics plays into the division of the atom with the proton, neutron, electron, and going on down the line of particles.

I am curious about the concept of centripetal force. [What is it really?]

How did people discover all of the material we will cover in physics? …I would love to know the history about physics.

How am I using physics in my every day life without knowing it?

Is there any physics laws or fields that human cannot control with technology?

How do people figure out equations or solutions for the physics laws?

One thing that has really interested me is how our bodies are able to work in a spontaneous, highly regulated way. Of course, it is all controlled by chemical and physical processes, but for me understanding how all of the small fragments work together is very intriguing.

Why do many natural structures and organisms have perfectly defined geometrical shapes (like hexagons in honeycomb)?

How come when you're driving on the street with your window down, and you pass a parked car, you get a "whoosh" sound as you drive by?  Why isn't there one when you pass a person?

The fact that time is relative always makes me double think and doesn't exactly make total sense all the time.

If energy is neither created nor used up, where did energy come from in the first place?

How did you find out that you wanted to be a physics professor; and the profession, if any, that you chose before this position?

I would like to see the connection between physics and chemistry regarding quantum mechanics.

I am curious about learning more about optics and light scattering. I would like to know the scientific reasons behind beautiful sunsets, layered clouds in the sky, and how the sun peaking through a forest canopy changes all of the shades of greens.

I would like to learn about the physics behind how a bulletproof vest blocks a bullet. [What material does the vest have to be made of?]

If skydivers jump out of an escape pod that is falling too, will the heavier escape pod hit them from above while falling? Or will the divers and pod fall at the same speed?

I was wondering, given that this is even possible in the first place, if a group of people were in a circle and all holding hands so that they are all connected, if lightning struck them would it continue to go around the circle until someone breaks it? Also given that no one in the circle is grounded.

How can the gravitation on different planets be different?

Curiosity Questions submitted by students in Physics 153, Fall 2015

1.     How is energy dispersed in a car accident?

2.     What are stars made of and where do they come from?

3.     In what ways do new advances in physics influence medical technology or modern medicine?

4.     I guess my curiosity question is what really would happen if we were to reach 0 K (absolute zero) with a substance?

5.     What is the science behind boomerangs?

6.     In old days, how did Egypt people build Pyramids without machines?

7.     What makes physics important?

8.     How is physics applied during everyday life?

9.     What is at the center of the Milky Way?

10.  If an irresistible force meets an immovable object, which would prevail?

11.  Does humanity's fascination with exploring the unknowing and finding answers to the unanswered questions perhaps stem from insecurities regarding where we came from and who or what created us? Is science an alternative or a challenge to religion/faith, or its companion? Do we strive to know more about the future because, through it, we believe we'll discover more about our past?

12.  What are some high paying careers you can go into with a degree in physics??

13.  If light falls off at the square of the distance, why is it that objects we see do not become darker as we move away from them [how does the brightness change as you get further from a light source]?

14.  Do magnets and/or magnetic fields affect radiation?

15.  The laws of physics govern our universe with an iron fist. How is it that most science fiction movies [get away with showing] things that appear to defy these same laws?

16.  How do sound waves differ from electromagnetic waves, and why do they travel at a slower rate?

17.  I always wondered what laws of physics other planets and galaxies have. [Do the laws of physics change in different parts of the universe?]

18.  Let us pretend I am deadlifting a 135 lb. barbell with the standard sized 45lb. barbell with a 45lb plate on each side. From a bird's eye view of the barbell, each plate has a surface area of perhaps .5 square feet. What if we changed each plate into a 45lb Styrofoam block with 100 square feet of area? Would the barbell feel heavier due to gravity or would it just feel like a regular 135lb. weight?

19.  Can a person's range of hearing be expanded, possibly to counteract the effects of some hearing loss? [Brain science has some new ideas about this.]

20.  Not sure if this is a physics question... But if stars are such huge masses, how do they hang out in the sky?

21.  how does spinning a screw in space behave? why does it seem erratic?  Like this: https://www.facebook.com/IFeakingLoveScience/videos/1194234890597520/?pnref=story

22.  [How is] "time" related to gravity?

23.  Would bending space be affected by relativity just as much as near-light speed travel?

24.  Will anybody ever fully understand quantum mechanics?

25.  Why does the earth revolve so quickly, but we don't feel anything?

26.  If one rotten banana is stacked on top of another fresh banana, will the fresh banana rot faster because of the other banana, in both sealed and unsealed spaces?

27.  How can we know where we are if where you are is based on relativity, given that, according to the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle we can still not even precisely locate an electron, when and where it will be?

28.  Can centripetal force be used to create a gravity field in a ship that is in space? And can this be sustained for long periods of time?

29.  Something that I find extremely perplexing but interesting to entertain is the question: since everything in the universe, including ourselves (physically and metaphysically) is fundamentally comprised of quantum information in the form of energy, frequency, and vibration, does this mean that essentially what makes us who we are (our souls) is just a consolidated mass of this quantum energy, and since the fundamental law states that energy is neither created nor destroyed, then depending on the frequency of our energy and vibrations when we die, does this quantum energy get released back into a "self aware" cosmic web that operates on the same frequency (heaven) or does this energy dissipate and get recycled into new creation (hell)? 

30.  Do we have an explanation for the double slit experiment yet?

31.  What exactly is dark matter and its application in the universe? How much of the universe is filled with it? Does it actually exist and what are the theories supporting it?

Curiosity Questions submitted by students in Physics 153, Fall 2013

1.    Is torque a force?
2.    While humans can only see wavelengths of light in the visible range, what do the wavelengths of light look like for animals (ex. butterflies, reindeer) who can see light outside of the humans visible range?
3.    Is it possible to create an artificial gravity field on earth?
4.    How does gravity work, why do large objects have a gravitational pull?
5.    Why don't photons have mass?
6.    How is energy involved in the process of "passive transport," namely those that do not require biological energy (e.g. Adenosine Triphosphate, ATP)?
7.    With the water scarcity crisis, how are we going to be able to supply enough water for the people without hindering the technological uses for water?  Can we create a water substitute?
8.    I find the leverages that the body experiences while doing gymnastics to be extremely interesting, especially the front lever and the iron cross. My question about them has always been: skill/coordination aside, what kind of force must the body be able to exert to hold the front lever and iron cross positions?
9.    How is physics about really big things (like forces and whatnot) and really little things (like atoms) at the same time?
10.    What are the dimensions of a black hole?
11.    What is a white hole?
12.    Is space empty?
13.    What are virtual particles?
14.    What is 'quantum entanglement'?
15.    What are octaves? Why do certain frequencies sound in unison? Is there a mathematical reason for this, or is it merely a subjective experience?
16.    What are time dilation and length contraction?
17.    What is the shape of the universe?
18.    Why is the expansion of the universe speeding up? What is the ""Big Crunch""?
19.    What is antimatter?
20.    What are eddy currents?
21.    How does altitude affect gravity (and air pressure)? Is there a difference in gravitational pull in Washington and Colorado? What about satellites in the atmosphere? Why?
22.    Since our world is at the same time infinitesimally small and large at any possible moment my hand could be crushing an "earth" and something gigantic could be crushing ours? or does the scale end on the small side at atoms?
23.    How was it possible for minds of the past to come up with these complex equations to figure out the operation of abstract ideas? Where did they base their information from to begin with?
24.    How can a better understanding of physics lead to a better understanding of the human nervous system?
25.    How does getting shocked from static electricity work? Like when you first pull a fleece blanket out of the dryer and touching it shocks you a couple of times while folding it?
26.    How does physics apply to geosciences?
27.    How does physics explain gravity?
28.    What is the history of the scientific progression of physics?
29.    What is the connection between physics and the world of medicine? More specifically what are some of the new technologies that are being developed, using physics, to treat diseases? And how do they work?
30.    In what ways does physics interact with other natural sciences like chemistry or biology?
31.    How does the physics of sound waves affect how we hear different notes, pitches, and music in general?
32.    What are some recent discoveries in the world of physics?
33.    What are some physical laws of the past that stand correct to this day?
34.    What laws of the past that have been found incorrect?
35.    What is string theory and why is it important?
36.    Why does a liquid nitrogen frozen chicken bounce from a height of 20 feet instead of shatter and how far would it bounce? Also why does this collision with the ground create angular motion when it has stopped bouncing? (I saw it on Mythbusters)
37.    How does a helicopter fly?
39.    What would the electron cloud look like if the periodic table had an additional row?
40.    In Star Trek, the warp drive works by condensing spacetime in front of the ship, and expanding it behind in order to travel faster than the speed of light. My question is this, according to the theory of relativity, would the light coming toward the space craft be blueshifted, much like light in our universe has been redshifted? If so, could you estimate by what factor spacetime could be warped before the ship would be destroyed by the high-frequency light (assuming the ship's hull is made of some stable, plausible alloy)?

Curiosity Questions submitted by students in Physics 153, Fall 2011

1.    How does light work and what is it essentially "made of"?
2.    I understand the concept of exploding pretty well, but the mechanics of imploding still confuses me.  How exactly does that work?
3.    I have always loved baseball, so I am curious about the physics behind the sport. For example, how does the density of a baseball bat affect the maximum distance traveled by the baseball it hits? How does the friction of the infield dirt, compared to the friction of the outfield grass, affect rolling balls’ velocity and range?
4.    Why is nature is so orderly and based on universal laws?
5.    Do you think a frictionless surface is ever truly attainable? If so how would you postulate such a creation would be made? Liquid solidifying? Very smooth sanding? Glass?
6.    What will I actually learn in physics besides math and how is applicable?
7.    When was the first wheel used and what was it mainly used for?
8.    What is the make up of a black hole?
9.    When an object is falling from the upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere, does the gravity of the planet affect it differently as it is falling or is the force of gravity at a constant?
10.    I have learned a little bit about Quanta. What are some basic (simpler) physics behind the bizarre occurrences involved with things such as Quantum Leaps?
11.    How is light spread about when it has the characteristics of a particle?
12.    In a geophysics class we learned many formulas on seismic waves and how they travel though the earth. I am curious how physicists knew what to write for the formulas.
13.    I want to know why and when light is in waves and when it’s like particles.
14.    Humans have destroyed the earth so much. Is there any way that we can go back to the original? Can you imagine your life like that? (No electronics, eat rough...)
15.    Where does all the energy from splitting an atom come from when exploding an atomic bomb?
16.    Most people say that if one majors in physics or chemistry, they can only become a teacher. But what if someone is not interested in teaching but wants to major in it? Is there any future from natural science majors? What other careers would you recommend if someone is majoring in physics or chemistry.
17.    What is the physics behind ice-skating?
18.    How do forces like gravity and electricity work?
19.    Will the universe ever reach a ground state? When every reaction has fallen to its lowest energy state, is it the end of the universe?
20.    I just watched Source Code couple days ago. I'm interested in if there is another world and happening the same time as what we are experiencing now.
21.    Why do two objects of different weight, when dropped, land at the same time? Why does it do that? How does it work? What happens because it does that?
22.    Is there really one answer to explain the entire universe and its functions?
23.    How does string theory explain how the universe works?
24.    If physics is sort of a snap shot of time, but time never stops.  How do we know physics actually is real?
25.    Is there only one universe?

Curiosity Questions
Submitted by introductory physics students Fall 2010

1.    What exactly is gravity and why does it not necessarily fit in with the other known forces in our universe?
2.    What are quarks and how do they affect the polarity of atoms.
3.    According to the string theory, all things in the universe are made up of vibrating strings. What makes the strings vibrate?
4.    What concept(s) in physics provide the strongest foundation for a continuing education in physics and how do these concepts apply to the world we experience?
5.    Why can't you see the northern lights further south?
6.    How do different forms of medical imaging work?  For example, how is x-ray radiation converted to the image that appears on the screen?  How do MRIs and MRI machines work?
7.    How do mach numbers correlate to speed?  What are some applications of that in terms of aircrafts? (ie. What mach number do the planes leaving Lewis-McChord traveling at?  What is the highest mach number achieved by human aircrafts?)
8.    How do black holes and worm holes work?
9.    As a physicist, how realistic do you think representations of physics in the media are? (ie. movies like Armageddon)
10.    I want to learn as much as I can about electronics, on a circuitry level.  I want to be able to understand Maxwell's equations and all that good stuff. 
11.    If a spaceship reaches the speed of light, will light coming from the sun surpass the spaceship?
12.    What makes the Earth's core so hot? Does it cool off over time?
13.    Is the String Theory possible?
14.    The lowest theoretical temperature is absolute zero, where atoms have no kinetic energy.  What is the theoretical highest temperature, where atoms have the greatest possible amount of kinetic energy (approaching, but never reaching the speed of light)?
15.    How does physics relate to biology? Specifically, how do the forces of physics affect the human body?
16.    Tornadoes, I've just always wondered how they function as a destructive force.
17.    How do electrical synapses work?
18.    I would like to know what causes the northern lights.
19.    Given the rate at which the earth loses heat to the coldness of space, how long will it take for Earth to become cold and geologically dead like Mars?
20.    I want to ask: what is time? Is it something really that really exists?
21.    How much of an impact do the varying positions of the curtains on the upper walls have on the impact in Lagerquist Concert Hall?
22.    Is the theory of relativity and quantum theory related?
23.    How is physics used in the medical industry?
24.    What causes the aurora borealis?
25.    What are gravitational waves?
26.    I am looking forward to see how I can apply physics concepts knowledge to the wonders of the human body.
27.    There is a farmer in the Sumner valley that grows grass and then pulls it up and sells it as grass sod. How is it that this farm still has the soil to produce grass after years of use? I have noticed that the farmer can grow and pull the grass out of the ground in less than a month.
28.    How does calculating orbit, acceleration, etc of something in motion in outer space relate to that same object within atmosphere? In short, other than there being zero gravity, what are the physical differences between objects in motion in space and those in earth’s atmosphere?
29.    How is physics linked to the field of engineering and what aspects of physics are most important for that respective field? For example: cutting a tree down. How can you calculate some of the forces needed to cut the tree down?:"
30.    Just outside of Quito, Ecuador a mere 240 yards to the south of the GPS calculated equatorial line is the historical line which was calculated by scientists in 1700's. Is the calculation a question for Physics and if so how could one calculate where the equator is?
31.    I am intrigued by the law (or laws?) of conservation in nature, and would like to learn more about its discovery, basic principles, and practical applications.
32.    How can one construct a stable bridge? What is the physics behind it? 
33.    What is antimatter, how does it react with regular matter, and how is it created?
34.    If you dropped an object that you were holding in an elevator going downward, would there be less of an impact on the object than there would be if the elevator was not moving at all?
35.    What are some recent breakthroughs in the area of physics?
36.    This isn't necessarily a question, but more me asking for an explanation. I was wondering if I could get an explanation of how the quantum logic clock works, and how it is different than the now-standard cesium fountain clock. If that is too in-depth of a question, then I would like to know more about the LHC, and what it has discovered/accomplished so far.
37.    I’m interested in learning about the creation of matter from nothing but energy considering I’m not certain I believe in the big bang theory.

Curiosity questions asked by Dr. Hay’s Physics classes Fall 2009

Introductory Physics with Calculus:

1.    I was playing pool with some friends the other day and it got me wondering about the physics behind it. I was trying to figure out how the cue ball would interact of hitting the next ball. Sometimes the cue ball would stop at the collision point, sometimes it would keep going slower but in the same direction, and sometimes it would veer off. I knew that the cue ball was transferring its energy to the new ball, but energy probably wasn't conserved because it is an inelastic collision. I figured these outcomes must have had something to do with how direct the cue hit the ball and the speed of the cue ball. Can you explain this further? 
2.    When something is free falling, how do you determine its terminal velocity?                      
3.    What about physics creates the most problems for creating a personal flying machine?
4.    Can you explain the concepts of anti-matter and dark matter?                   
5.    How could we mimic photosynthesis in plants to more efficiently store solar energy as chemical energy?                         
6.    Why does the world work the way it does? Physics, perhaps?
7.    I want to know how the strong force works.
8.    I would really like to know about the Earth before humanity.  For instance how old it really is and how exactly it came to be and where dinosaurs fit in the Earth's history.
9.    How can principles of physics be used to understand abilities and limitations of the human body?  For example, when lying on one's back, can physics be used to understand why raising one's legs causes the lower back to hurt?
10.    Explain how blood pressure works and how salts affect it i.e. why would a higher salt diet raise blood pressure?
11.    How do we know that physic's equations and models perfectly resemble that of natural phenomenon?
12.    How does physics apply to everyday pharmaceutical practices and sciences?
13.    Why does gravity pull things toward each other?
14.    What is the definition of physics and how is it applied to everyday life?
15.    In a TV show (I forget what it's called) the moon's orbit is altered and begins to affect gravity on Earth. Is this phenomenon possible? What could possibly cause an affect on Earth's gravitational force?
16.    I was always curious about big bang theory.
17.    How does wireless energy transfer work?
18.    One of my friends told me that he learned how a credit card works in his physics class, so that would be interesting to learn about.
19.    How are black holes formed? I’m not sure we learn about the universe but I think it would be cool to learn about.
20.    When I was a student leader at Outdoor School, we would play a soil game in which the students would name any item and we would relate it back to soil. Well, as physics seems to be the most universal part of science, I was wondering if you really could relate physics to anything?
21.    Why can't anything travel faster then the speed of light?
22.    Is it possible to make a theoretical model to describe the statistics of a turbulent flow (in particular, its internal structures)?
23.    How much of the class is actually revolved around calculus?  I have heard it is a calc based class
24.    I am really interested in the connection between electricity and imaginary numbers.  I know there's another class about that I take later, but I would like to know a little bit more about them. 
25.    I'm really curious as to the affects of all this new technology we have (cell phones and the like) on our brains, and mankind in general. I heard something about magnetic fields or frequencies or something and how cell phones had something that moved faster than the same something of the brain and that this affected the brain somehow. I can't remember what it was, but I thought it was very interesting, and pretty scary.
26.    What do physicists actually do?
27.    Recently on the news there was a claim that the secret of the lightning ball was figured out.  However, there is little known about it.  Is it possible to generate the lightning ball in the laboratory?

Electrodynamics Class:

28.    Wouldn't black holes show up as very bright? Because the light that hasn't quite been pulled into the black hole by its gravity yet is just beyond that gravitational horizon?
29.    Exactly what happened during the Big Bang?
30.    Are we being visited by extraterrestrials? Are they inhabitants of our universe or of a parallel universe?
31.    Are all events in the universe a result of determinism or of freewill?
32.    I've heard that since America has slowed down our nuclear sources the French and the Russians have researched like crazy and now have found ways to reuse the nuclear wastes while we just want to bury it. I'm just wondering what sort of technologies they have.

Curiosity Questions asked by Dr. Hay’s Physics Classes Fall 2008 (Pacific Lutheran University)

E&M Fall 2008:
1.    Does technology disrupt/hinder social justice, or promote social equity?  (Along the lines of environmentalism like polluted water)

2.    What is superconductivity?

3.    How is the neural circuitry connected to function as a cognitive unity?

4.    Is there a universal explaining-all theory?  If so would mankind ever find it when we ourselves are a part of it?

5.    How does everything connect?

6.    What is the best way to live life?

7.    Do I have obligations to the world and if so what are they?

8.    Where can I best apply my time and energy to serve the world?

9.    Is string theory correct?

10.    Are there universal laws?  Are they physical, moral, etc?

11.    How does current create a magnetic field?

12.    Is there a universal frame of reference?

13.    How big is the universe?

14.    How small is a quark?

15.    Why do people do bad things?

Physics 153 Fall 2008:
1.    How does gravity work?

2.    How do black holes work?

3.    Could time travel be physically possible?

4.    If the universe is infinitely big, how is it expanding?

5.    What is physics?  Why is it needed?  How does it apply to my day to day life and career?

6.    Curious about physics of structures

7.    How do some animals defy the laws of physics (bumbles)?

8.    Interest in astrophysics (planetary, geology, climate)

9.    Is it true there is no such thing as centrifugal force?

10.    How were all the equations we use derived from calculus?

11.    Why is gravity considered weak?

12.    How does physics apply to/complement chemistry?

13.    What do you do when you get stuck on a problem during an exam and can’t remember how to do it?

14.    What happens to an object if it were to travel at the speed of light?

15.    Are we going to learn about “Schrödinger’s Cat” this semester or is that in a more advanced physics class?

16.    I am interested in how does physics affect and change the natural world?

17.    How do aerodynamics work?

18.    Do feathers on birds have anything to do with ability to fly?

19.    Why is gravity so weak?

20.    How can energy be transferred without direct contact?  How efficient is it?

21.    What’s the deal with mass?

22.    How can physics help get over today’s problems?

23.    Do you weigh more while doing a push-up?

24.    Wants to learn more about LHC and the controversy around it.

25.    I want to learn more about other dimensions and string theory.

Physics 201 (Oregon State University) Curiosity Questions submitted Fall 2007:

What would happen to the earth if the sun suddenly ceased to exist? Would it instantly fling off into space instantly? Wouldn't that mean gravity traveled faster than the speed of light?

Can ice really be made into a viable bullet, is something other than water frozen to make it work, or is it just Hollywood make-believe?

How does the F-117A Nighthawk deflect incoming radar, and why are these angles (of the body plating) optimal for being stealthy against radar?

Is  levitation truly possible?  Also, as a physicist, have you encountered  
anything related to physics that cannot be explained, or can be  
considered as something of the supernatural?  If most of the world can  
be explained through the eyes of a mathematician, how much of it  

What are some physics applications in the human body?

How can I relate physics to the human  
body and its movement?  I am an athletic training major and want to  
know some sample problems that relate to the human body and its  
actions or movements, instead of problems about the speed or velocity  
of a ball or a car.

Which is stronger : triangles or arches?

Anyway, my question was spurred by the rumors and kind of "urban legends" surrounding living near a power substation. I realize that there has been substantial research done on the subject and no deleterious health effects have been proven. However, since we currently have one in our backyard, I was wondering if it was possible that electromagnetic forces could somehow otherwise affect our bodies ( i.e., thoughts/dreams/etc?) and the mechanism by which it could do that.

I know that sun dials work by the change of the sun's position during  
the day, but in higher lattitudes, where winter days are shorter, are  
sundials still used? If so do they have to take into acount the amount  
of light/dark? Or do they plug in the date and angle of shadow into an  
equation to get the time?

Why when your walking to class in the rain do you get less wet then if  
you are running or biking to class? (Ignoring the splash factor on a  
bike). It seems like the faster you go the more wet you get. I believe  
it was proved on Myth busters but does (and if yes, what kind of)  
physics backs this up?

Lets say an anvil and apple where dropped from the same exact height.  
Which of the two would reach the ground faster?

So my little brother once asked me if you fired a bullet straight up  
would it fall back into the barrell and my mom and I had a  
disagreement on why not, or under what circumstances it might happen.

If you toss  
a ball straight up in the air 2 meters and catch it at the exact same  
spot you threw it from, at 1/2 meter above that spot is the ball going  
faster on the way or on the way down?

Can you predict where a leaf will land based on the wind, the shape of the leaf, and the height it falls from, or are all those measurements too variable?  Are there other variables that would also matter?  

Why is it when you are snorkeling, or swimming and you do a breast  
stroke with your arms and then begin kicking it seems to shoot you  

I was wondering how baseball stitching affects its spin, and if it
would be possible to throw a whole different variety of pitches if the
balls were stitched differently.  I know that the stitching and spin
on the ball is how movement in pitches is achieved but why and how
much is spin and how much is the stitching.

How does a boomerang work?  Why does it come back when you throw it?

My question is why does water stay in a bucket if you rotate
it over your head?

How is it that the simple act of swinging your legs back and forth  
can keep you  swinging when you're on a swing?

My question is how is a bumble bee able to fly with such a large body and small wings?

my question is about the physics surrounding the world of winter sports athletes and the extreme jumps they are able to live through.  I have a general knowledge of why these jumps are possible but i would like to know the actual forces that are coming together to make it possible.  Just for your information as far as i know the current world records for a cliff drop (a vertical fall) is approximately 250 vertical feet and the longest distance covered horizontally as approximately 190 feet. the cliff drop rider had to be dug out of the hole he made on impact (he was reported to be about 6 feet deep in the snow and suffered only a split lip from biting it on impact) and the distance jumper rode away from the jump cleanly with out ever leaving his feet!  

What are some physics applications in the human body?
how does a curveball in baseball work? Don't one of the physics laws  
state that an object cannot change motion in midair unless another  
force hits it?

why do some things float in water and some things not?

why do densities effect weight.

why does the world rotate (at all) on an axis?  and what does the  
rotation affect on earth?

What causes the earth to continually rotate?

Why do the stars seem to stay in the same place if the world is moving as well as the sun/moon?

what keeps planets in orbit?

I know that sun dials work by the change of the sun's position during  
the day, but in higher lattitudes, where winter days are shorter, are  
sundials still used? If so do they have to take into acount the amount  
of light/dark? Or do they plug in the date and angle of shadow into an  
equation to get the time?

Which is more of a phenomena; lunar eclipses or solar eclipses?
Why is the moon year shorter than the sun’s rotation around the earth?

Why does the full moon have such a strong impact the the tides?
I know the text book answer, "gravity," but break it down for me. Is  
it really as simple as the moon being closest to that area at that  
time and thus looking full and pulling more on the water in that area  
of the ocean? I feel like there must be more to it, what else is going  

How does the pull of the moon control the tides?  How can one predict the high and low tides?

What is the distance between the earths core and the surface?

I read in the textbook that physics plays a role in the medical  
profession in aiding in the obtainment of images of the interior of  
the human body. I am curious as to how it does, because I do not  
clearly see the connection.

How is it that the gravitational pull is always to the centre of the planet? Or is this  
only because that is all we see?

I have heard that the moon controls the waves or tides in the ocean. Is this true and if so how does it work?

The moon, earth, and sun all have a gravitational pull, but what causes this? How exactly does it suck objects towards them?

What keeps a satellite in orbit around the Earth?

Why do planets rotate and why can we not feel it?

What are the effects of physics on a roller coaster??

Why does a pendulum swing for so long?

Why is it that the time duration between each swing on a swing-set  
(The duration of going back and going forward) is the same no matter  
the height of the swing? (eg Bob starts his swinging and is swinging  
really high. Carl starts swinging but swings half as high as Bob. The  
duration for Bob to swing forward when he is back is the same duration  
for Carl to swing forward when is back and vice versa.)

When a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody around to hear it, does the tree still make a noise when it falls? 

I would love to know more about how timbre is created.  What  
determines different timbres?  I play the clarinet and music revolves  
around different timbres so it would be great to learn more about it.

On a piano, as the notes get lower, the strings in the piano get thicker and shorter. Why does the string size and thickness cause the sound to change?

How is it that my son and I can talk to eachother with 2 tin cans and  
some string and hear eachother clearly? When you are driving a car...why is the sound pitch of an approaching  
car high as it approaches you and low after is passes you?

How is it possible to measure the speed of sound? Speed of light?

How do soundwaves affect the stability of structures (i.e. bridges,  
buildings, spiderwebs, etc

I heard somewhere that certain sound frequencies can breakdown specific materials.  If this is true, would it just have to be one blast of  
that frequency or would there have to be a prolonged exposure to it for say a bridge to collapse because of it? Also, if sound waves can break apart materials, can they help strengthen them or protect them?

How do radio waves penetrate walls (how does a radio receive signals within a house)?

Why is it easier to climb up than climb down?

If a weight is swung is the challenge of that weight greater or less then if it simply lifted?

How and why do earthquakes occur?

It's my understanding that the potential energy of an object increases
as it's lifted from the floor for example to a desk. (maybe this is
wrong) If this increases the objects potential energy, what happens if
the object is lifted beyond the gravitational field of the planet?

How do people jump?"

If a bullet from a rifle is fired into  
a body of water how far will it actually descend? 

Why does time differ from a moving object and an object standing still?

What is time made of? (particles? waves? a line with a forward arrow? or is it just a concept used to describe a dimension?)

What is faster than the speed of light?

I am curious why liquid assumes a tear  drop shape in the air?

How is it that when you turn a bucket upside down in water it is hard to bring it up out of the water even though it doesn't have any water in it?-And how high can you lift it?

I studied Poiseuille's law in one of my classes, unfortunately  
everybody had taken physics so they understood the concept.
I find hemodynamics facinating, so I guess my question is more of a  
I'd love to know more about Poiseuille's Law and if there is ever a  
situation in which Poiseuille's Law DOES NOT work? (i.e. elevation,  

One physics observation or question that I thought up upon pondering the universe was how we use blood pressure to determine cardiac health. I am a pre-pharmacy major so this is of some interest to my field.

In the average human body, how much force does our body have to exert on our veins to return the blood from our feet to our heart?  I know that there is not enough force exerted by the heart to return the blood all the way from our extremeties so the veins have valves that prevent backflow and our muscles squeezing the veins during movement help bring the blood back.  I have always been curious as to how much work needs to be done be the muscles to bring that blood back.

How does the blood in the small vessels in the limbs of your body get back to your heart?

How does an airplane stay in the air?

How does a Boeing 737 take off from the ground in terms of physics?

How can the increase of entropy be reversed?

What is fire? Like what makes the flame a flame?

Why is fire so hot amd orange?

I'm not particularly talented at coming up with questions, but I heard my dad asking how water and other liquids can't pass through our skin even though it's all just a bunch of atoms. I am going take that as the question.

How do radio waves penetrate walls (how does a radio receive signals within a house)?

Why is the sunset turn the sky a pink and orange color when its setting?

What makes the sky blue? Does it have to do with the wavelengths of  
light that are reflected or refracted?

Why do microwaves boil water?

What is faster than the speed of light?

How does glow-in-the-dark objects retain light and actually glow?

how does a double rainbow form?

How are telescopes made so that it can magnify the stars to such a degree?

How is physics involved in eyesight?

Why does light bend when it goes through glass?

How exactly do mirrors work?

what makes fiber optics work?

Light as a Particle or wave?

I've noticed that wave crests get closer together as they roll up a beach; that they change direction as they go around a rock, or enter narrow gates. Why does this happen?

How is it that we can determine which chemicals make up a specific compound based off NMR?" Along the same lines, NMR is the same as an MRI but how do we get an image from the same technology?

In the vastness of everything, protons, neutrons, and electrons are still the basic building blocks.  How is it that these simple, tiny structures can compose and set in motion something that is so complex through an explanation of physics?

Is the proton really stable, or does it eventually decay?

How do so many types of waves (radio, television, etc.) travel through the air and our bodies without doing any noticeable harm to us?

How is it that the universe can be said to be infinite? Does this mean that the universe is continuously growing and creating new galaxies, planets, etc? or Has it already been created to point that is so vast an massive that we just say that it is inifinte because we cannot actually prove that it is actually infinite?

Does the universe have an end?  Or is it infinite? Or does it loop?

How is light affected by gravity if it does not have mass? 

I was wondering if there was any way that a machine can be created to travel through time, space, and/or universe?

How can physics help me to understand what dark energy is all about?

What is a black hole? And how can our ordered universe house such a anomoly?

I know that the first three dimensions are spatial and the fourth is generally considered a time dimension but I was curious to know what the fifth dimension was and if it actually existed.

Is it possible to reach speeds faster than light in space [assuming Einstein's theory that space is curved and other theories that space and time are connected] and how would that affect the perception of time for the passengers?

Given the rotation of the rotation of the earth around the sun, the sun around the galaxy, and the galaxy through space, how fast are we moving while just sitting here?

What is the maximum velocity of a falling star?

Is underground liquid water a possibility on Mars? 

Can you explain the process behind shooting stars?

I would like to learn the process of how a star works.

Is there a way that we (people) could set up a habitat on the moon, and if so, why haven't we done it?     

How do you measure the distance between Earth and the Sun?

Is there any scientific basis to support the saying that every atom in our body was once part of a star?

Why are there different eye colors?

Do species really exist or are they simply a useful convention to help us understand nature?

Why do fruits and vegetables change colors as they ripen?

Why do leaves change color in the fall?

Why does the sun lighten our hair, but darken our skin?

Why does ice cream make you thirsty?

Why do people cry when they are sad?

What is stoping humans from using our brains and  bodys to their fullest potential? Such as not using our full strength or using all of our brain.

How do different animals sense different color hues, for example some can sense IR or UV which is out of what we consider "visable" light.  How do they incorporate that into their "mental image" of the world?

So here's my question for you... How is it that hot water freezes  
faster than cold water? I've heard this is true! 

I am the type  
of person that gets the anoying hic-ups very frequently when I dink  
soda pop. And I have tried everythng to get rid of them. One way that  
I found worked was to drink water with a spoon in the glass while  
hanging upside down. How does it work? I heard (sources untold) that  
hic-ups are the bodies way of expressing that they are not getting  
enough oxygen to the muscles. So why would the water spoon trick work?

Could the problem of global warming be solved by moving the earth  
farther from the sun? If so, what other problems would this possibly