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  1. If you were to go to a place on earth on the 22nd where local noon is at 0419 GMT then the length of the 21st and 23rd would be about the same (with the 22nd a tad shorter). If you were to go to a place on earth on the 22nd where local mid-night is at 0419 GMT then the length of the 21st and the 22nd would be about the same. If the sun were a better time-keeper then these compared day lengths would be exactly the same. The sun speeds up and slows down at times on its apparent journey along the ecliptic which obviously feeds into the measured length of day. If the solstice were
  2. For sure. I've just finished my copy this morning. I feel it's also worth mentioning Zwicky's determination. He spent thousands of hours using relatively poor equipment hunting for the first 'looked for' supernovae. It took several years.
  3. From the same thread, another mentor 'Nugatory' says: Gravity is indeed a force in classical physics, but to avoid the criticisms from @Dale and @PeterDonis above you will have to be a bit more precise about what that means: Newton’s first law defines an inertial frame. Newton’s second law defines force, not just as acceleration but as acceleration in an inertial frame. Thus the Newtonian definition is based on coordinate acceleration. The distinction between proper and coordinate acceleration is irrelevant to this definition; what matters is that there is coordinate acceleration in an in
  4. Perhaps not. The em force that you refer to is a reactionary force to the gravitational force. Io's interior heats up because of work done by Jupiter's tidal forces. Also, if you had a frame of reference in which ALL of the gravitational forces disappeared then then there would be no curvature at all (in that frame the geodesics would remain parallel). In reality, the curvature of spacetime describes the tidal forces, therefore we can justifiably say 'The curvature of spacetime is gravitation'. Tidal forces are at the heart of GR. Really.
  5. Yes. This tidal force is the 'real' force of gravity.
  6. Thanks Andrew. I meant spacetime. Interestingly though, Newtonian gravity can be formulated as the curvature of time. I am unsure of what you mean by '..it is not a force.' Aren't tidal forces the part of gravity that can't be removed by invoking a free fall observer? Can't tidal forces be used to calculate the curvature of spacetime? (More complicated than test particle trajectories I admit but equivalent)
  7. Tidal forces are in fact very real, as they cannot be made to vanish even for a free-fall observer. Gravity is a force. In GR, gravity can be modelled as the curvature of spacetime. It is still a force. In the case of Io, the disparate gravitational pulls on its near and far sides cause the whole moon to change shape. This deformation causes internal friction within Io which consequently heats up. Alternatively, you could say that owing to the curvature of spacetime, different parts of Io try and follow slightly different paths through spacetime. Since Io is a
  8. No-one really knows what gravity is. Gravity is modelled in different ways and as such it is useful sometimes to think of gravity as a force and sometimes as the curvature of spacetime. Newtonian gravity makes much use of the concept of force and is an almost complete description of how us earth dwellers perceive the effects of gravity. All Newton 'knew' was force. Einstein, using the notion of a free-fall observer (no force other than tidal forces) was able to extend Newtonian theory by accounting for the very few anomalies it contained. However, Einstein still needed force (tidal
  9. I was wondering if anyone here has read the John von Neumann biography by Norman Macrae. A friend of mine (who passed the book on) described it as being very dull and un-technical. I'd be pleased to hear to hear the opinions of any members who have read the book. Thanks.
  10. 'Universe' by Freedman and Kaufmann. A bit pricey but well worth it. Packed full of all sorts of info and some basic formulas.
  11. Somewhat astonishingly, for a Universe roughly 10 billion years old with a value of Omega not wildly different from 1, the value of Omega when the Universe is just 1 second old could not differ from unity by more than one part in 10^15. ( From 'Just Six Numbers')
  12. I suppose it could be argued that it is not surprising since we are here talking about it at all. A slightly less flat Universe would have collapsed long ago or would have disallowed the formation of galaxies and stars. What is truly surprising though is that there are a whole bunch of constants at critical values (Omega being just one of them) that conspire to make a habitable Universe. (cf. 'Just Six Numbers' by Martin Rees or 'The Road to Reality' by Roger Penrose)
  13. A little bit different to what you have in mind but you could use a piece of spray painted (matt black) aluminium foil and monitor its temperature as it is heated by the sun with an infrared thermometer. You could then shade the foil and measure the temperature drop. You could combine the two sets of results to obtain an approximation of the intensity of the sunlight.
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