A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted norms. It typically helps common efficiency or understanding but is not required, as opposed to a strict standard or protocol.

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Why in electrostatics is dV=-E.dr but in electromagnetic induction, EMF=+E.dS?

In electrostatics we learned that dV=-E.dr. I understood the derivation which was used to derive this. Now when I have come to Electromagnetic Induction,I see that when there is a time varying ...
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1answer
15 views

What justifies adding phasors' vertical components

I learned that, when superimposing two waves on top of each other to calculate the resulting wave's amplitude, it's helpful to use phasors. From what I gathered, phasors are vectors originating at the ...
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64 views

Fourier Transforms of position and momentum space in Quantum Mechanics

Fourier transformations: for momentum space and for position space. How do we know that Ψ is not the Fourier transform of Φ but we suppose that its the other way around(Ψ would be ...
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162 views

Why is the focal length of a convex mirror negative?

According to the Cartesian sign convention, the focal length should be positive since the convex mirror forms a virtual image to the right of mirror (positive direction) when light comes from left. ...
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127 views

What are phase conventions in angular momentum and rotation calculations?

I work with complicated angular momentum calculations related to atomic physics; nevertheless, I never need to use anything related to a phase convention (apparently because it's taken care of in a ...
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358 views

Is the spin 1/2 rotation matrix taken to be counterclockwise?

The spin 1/2 rotation matrix around the $z$-axis I worked out to be $$ e^{i\theta S_z}=\begin{pmatrix} \exp\frac{i\theta}{2}&0\\ 0&\exp\frac{-i\theta}{2}\\ \end{pmatrix} $$ Is this taken to ...
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1k views

Sign convention for mirror and lens formulas

I have just started learning optics at school and my teacher derived the lens and mirror formulas. While doing so, she applied the sign convention for $u$, $v$ and $f$ and arrived at the final ...
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18k views

Thermodynamics - Sign convention

I use the sign convention: Heat absorbed by the system = $q+$ (positive) Heat evolved by the system = $q-$ (negative) Work done on the system = $w +$ (positive) Work done by the system = $w -$ ...
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Why is the charge naming convention wrong?

I recently came to know about the Conventional Current vs. Electron Flow issue. Doing some search I found that the reason for this is that Benjamin Franklin made a mistake when naming positive and ...
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2answers
88 views

Normalising Generators of a Lie Algebra

Ok, so I'm asking this in physics because I'm currently working through part of Srednicki's text on QFT, even though it's really a maths question. In Srednicki's chapter on non-Abelian gauge theory, ...
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3answers
300 views

Are quantum numbers always integers?

Quantum numbers are integers for lots of systems. For example, for a particle in an infinite well $$E_n = E_1 n^2 \text{ with } n = 1, 2, 3\ldots$$ for a quantum harmonic oscillator $$E_n = (n + ...
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171 views

Kinetic energy (KE) in atomic orbital

Within an atomic orbital, electrons must obviously have relative differences between points in space due to potential gradient. But there is kinetic energy as well. If we choose a particular point as ...
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35 views

Do I have some freedom when I define the quantum SHO ladder operators? [closed]

I tried to solve the quantum harmonic oscillator via the operator method. After doing it and looking up the solution I noticed that for some reason the ladder operators got an additional factor of (i) ...
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81 views

Schrodinger's equation with negative sign

In time dependent Schrodinger's equation as given in Schrodinger's lecture (Four Lectures on Wave mechanics, Blackie & Son, 1949, pg22) he arrives at $$\nabla^2\psi-\frac{4 \pi m ...
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2answers
174 views

Is the sign in the Schrodinger equation physical?

I always have trouble remembering the sign in factors like $\exp(\pm ik\cdot x)$ (I'll use mostly minus signature here) that arise in field theory. My mnemonic is to remember that the Schrodinger ...
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65 views

General proof of formulas of geometric optics?

In most lf textbooks formulas of geometric optics like lens maker formula and base formula for that are proven (or rather verified from my point of view) by taking specific case (ray diagram) and ...
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79 views

Can the sign of metric change physics?

Consider the Lagrangian of a massless real scalar (classical field) in $\phi(\textbf{x},t)$: $$\mathcal{L}=\frac{1}{2}\partial^\mu\phi\partial_\mu\phi$$ The Hamiltonian density in two different ...
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6answers
8k views

Why do we test electric fields with positive charges and not negative ones?

Is there any difference between using a positive versus a negative charge to test an electric field?
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168 views

Cross product and the right hand rule - what is the intuition behind it? [duplicate]

I understand that by convention, the cross product is defined to be the vertical projection of vector $A$ on $B$ in the case of $A \times B$. But the vertical projection of $A$ on $B$ would still be ...
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Why is friction force negative in ice skater problem?

A 68.5 kg skater moving initially at 2.40m/s on rough horizontal ice comes to rest uniformly in 3.52s due to friction from the ice. What force does friction exert on the skater? I am not really ...
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1answer
18 views

Zero of Electric Potential Energy

When you have a positive charge and a negative charge, the line that cuts perpendicularly between their separation distance is an equipotential line of 0 volts. The math indicates that at that point, ...
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1answer
41 views

Rocket equation derivation, question about signs

My question is about signs in the derivation of the rocket equation. Considering a rocket of mass $m$, its momentum at time $t$ is $p(t)=mv$. At time $t+dt$ it ejects a quantity $dm$ so its momentum ...
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95 views

Why is displacement negative during free fall?

I am confused by this question. Displacement is shortest path travelled by an object, but I had seen in my book that during free fall displacement is negative.
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71 views

Negative sign in rotation operator again

In Wikipedia's page on the rotation operator, section "In relation to the orbital angular momentum", they write $$ R(z,t) = exp((-i/h) \varphi L_z) $$ where $\varphi$ is the angle being rotated ...
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49 views

Correct way to define parity of two parafermions

I am checking the literature on parafermions and it seems that people define the parity of two parafermions to be $\gamma_{a}^{-1}\gamma_{b}$. Is this definition always valid? How does one come up ...
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Work done against gravity [closed]

The work done against gravity is $mgh$, well at least that's what my textbook says. I have a question: I can apply a force say 50N, so total work done = $mgh + mah$. Where $ma$ = Force. But the truth ...
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2answers
200 views

How to accurately mark with arrows an electric circuit

As I understood, we choose to mark the current with arrows going from the plus pole to the minus pole (even though we know that in reality it is the contrary). As I'm looking at electric circuits, I ...
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118 views

Why do we use the index of refraction for yellow light?

When we do problems with optics and refraction, we’re usually given a set of indices of refraction to work with; for example, the index of refraction in air is about 1.00, the index of refraction in ...
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46 views

Classical Mechanics — Sign of work done

It seems that work has two possible ways to decide it's sign: Whether you take the perspective of the system or the surrounding (whether you consider work done on the system as positive, or work done ...
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1answer
94 views

Field expansion in Peskin & Schroeder

Peskin and Schroeder state something which I'm not fully understanding. More specificially I think it's just phrased in a way I'm not understanding. In the Schrodinger picture we can expand the real ...
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30 views

Sign convention thermodynamics

Say a system is inside a volume $V$ with surface normal vector $n$ pointing out from the volume. Then there are force vector fields (nonconservative and conservative) depending on parameters external ...
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1answer
36 views

When to use Kelvin over Rankine and vice versa

Kelvin and Rankine are both used by scientists over Celsius and Fahrenheit to record heat, but are they both used interchangeably, dependant on the country or preference of an individual, or are there ...
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103 views

Why is the electromagnetic four-potential $A_{\mu}$ not an observable?

Why within classical field-theory the electromagnetic four-potential (usually $A_{\mu}$) not an observable? In classical mechanics we don't have problems with energy measurements and in quantum ...
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891 views

Symbols of derivatives

What is the exact use of the symbols $\partial$, $\delta$ and $\mathrm{d}$ in derivatives in physics? How are they different and when are they used? It would be nice to get that settled once and for ...
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42 views

About the definition of super Hilbert Spaces

I have founded in the literature at leas two different definition of Hilbert spaces: Definition 1: A super Hilbert space is a complex super-vector space $\mathcal{H}=\mathcal{H}_0\oplus ...
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1answer
76 views

Is there a scientific term for the right-hand-(grip-)rule?

To illustrate and remember the direction of rotation around an axis defined by a vector as it happens to be in some fields of physics, one can employ the right-hand-rule: (image from here) Is ...
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2answers
81 views

Different signatures

I was working out the christoffel symbols, once where the metric that I am using has (+---) signature and another time where it has (-+++) signature because two books had different signatures and I ...
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397 views

Why is a conservative force defined as the negative gradient of a potential?

I'm learning about work in my dynamics class right now. We have defined the work on a particle due to the force field from point A to point B as the curve Integral over the force field from point A to ...
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1answer
83 views

Negative sign in rotation operator (quantum mechanics, angular momentum) [duplicate]

Schaum's Quantum Mechanics comes up with $$\exp((-i/\hbar)\cdot \theta \cdot{\hat{L}} \cdot {\overrightarrow{n}})$$ as the formula of the rotation operator. Other sources I see don't have the ...
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2answers
117 views

Where does the Lorentz boost for a Dirac spinor come from?

I have read, that if you have a Dirac spinor \begin{equation} \psi = \begin{pmatrix} \phi_R\\ \phi_L \end{pmatrix} \end{equation} that you can apply a Lorentz boost along the $z$-direction with ...
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1answer
66 views

How are these two Riemann tensor equations equivalent?

Poisson in A Relativist's Toolkit defines the Riemann tensor as$$A_{\,;\alpha\beta}^{\mu}-A_{\,;\beta\alpha}^{\mu}=-R_{\phantom{\mu}\nu\alpha\beta}^{\mu}A^{\nu}.$$ Foster and Nightingale's A Short ...
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1answer
129 views

What is the reason we originally and still use the non-SI unit, the Jansky?

The Jansky is the unit for spectral flux density. It is defined as $$1 {\rm \ Jy} = 10^{-26} {\rm W \ m^{-2} \ Hz^{-1}}$$ in terms of Watts per square meter per Hertz. I've never quite understood ...
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3answers
9k views

How can you have a negative voltage?

How can you have a negative voltage? I don't really understand the concept of negative voltage, how can it exist?
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2answers
661 views

Potential energy of a dipole in a uniform electric field convention?

When finding the potential energy of a dipole in a uniform electric field, I was told by my lecturer that the convention is that the potential energy is 0 when the dipole moment and electric field ...
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2answers
131 views

Do bras and kets have dimensions?

I'm trying to understand more intuitively what bras and kets are, but some aspects of them remain a mystery to me. We usually think of $\psi (x)$ as having dimension of $[1/\sqrt{L}]$ so that ...
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27 views

Work done by a gas in an expansion [duplicate]

1) Consider a gas expanding quasistatically and reversibly from $V_1$ to $V_2$ at constant temperature. I want to calculate the work done. So by convention work done by a system is a negative quantity ...
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1answer
31 views

What is the correct dual of antisymmetric tensors?

In some books I find the dual antisymmetric tensor $$\tilde{H}^{ab}=-\frac{1}{2}\epsilon^{abcd}H_{cd}$$ and other times I find it with no minus sign. How can I tell which to use? Is this like that in ...
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324 views

Point charge potential (sign problem)

I'm a bit embarrassed, but I'm not able to compute the electric potential at point $P$ (at a distance $R$ from the origin) generated by a positive unitary point charge in the origin with the right ...
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1answer
81 views

Density of states of 3D harmonic oscillator

for the first red box, shouldn't be $\epsilon^2 =\epsilon_{n_x}^2 +\epsilon_{n_y}^2 + \epsilon_{n_z}^2 + 2\epsilon_{n_x}\epsilon_{n_y} + 2 \epsilon_{n_x}\epsilon_{n_z} + ...
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26 views

Adjoints in occupation number representation

I am having some trouble understanding how to compute things in occupation number representation. I believe my problem is only implicitly dealt with in the notes I have read. A simple example should ...