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 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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43 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
80 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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28 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
308 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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26 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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1answer
106 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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1answer
90 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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2answers
828 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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0answers
39 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
62 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
63 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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2answers
341 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
57 views

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

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
112 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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2answers
162 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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1answer
63 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
122 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
8k 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
515 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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1answer
137 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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2answers
117 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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2answers
123 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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0answers
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
30 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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310 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
59 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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1answer
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 ...
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2answers
83 views

Sign of momentum in fermion propagator

Thinking of a process like Compton scattering, where we have an electron as a propagator, I would typically write down the propagator as $$i \frac{\not q+m}{q^2-m^2}.$$ If I were to replace the ...
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1answer
29 views

Degrees of freedom of a point mass sliding on a rigid curved wire without friction

I am very new to the subject and am going through Structure and Interpretation of Classical Mechanics. One exercise asks to find the degrees of freedom of a number of systems, one of which is a ...
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2answers
48 views

Potential step and exponential decay?

Let us say we have a wave going from a region ($x<0$) where the potential is $U_1$ to a region ($x>0$) where the potential is $U_2$. The wave function in the second region takes the form: ...
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2answers
353 views

The definition of transpose of Lorentz transformation (as a mixed tensor)

In the appendix of the textbook of Group Theory in Physics by Wu-Ki Tung, the transpose of a matrix is defined as the following, Eq.(I.3-1) $${{A^T}_i}^j~=~{A^j}_i.$$ This is extremely confusing for ...
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30 views

Potential of an infinitely long cylinder

Suppose I have an infinitely long cylinder with radius $R$, charged with longitudinal density $\lambda$. I want to calculate the potential outside the cylinder. The field induced by the cylinder is ...
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1answer
41 views

Sign of Gaussian surface that encloses negative charge

I can't solve a contradiction that have appeared in my head. Let's assume we have a negative charge, if we enclose it by a spherical surface and $A$ is surface of the sphere, then we will have ...
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3answers
1k views

What is the direction of area vector while calculating magnetic flux?

In my textbook, as a preliminary to Faraday's law of induction, magnetic flux is defined over a closed loop as $$\Phi_B = \oint \vec{B}\cdot d\vec{A}$$ Then it draws a parallel with electric flux ...
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1answer
85 views

Why does the gravitation potential in a uniform field have negative values?

As we know the gravitational potential is the work done per unit mass in taking a point mass from zero potential (at infinity distance) to a point in a gravitational field. But why is the work ...
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1answer
220 views

What is the difference between Right Hand Palm Rule, Fleming's Right Hand Thumb Rule and Fleming's Left Hand Thumb Rule?

I dont understand in what scenarios are the three rules applied and are any two of them similar or are they all different?
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2answers
63 views

Gravitational potential difference

in my revision guide it defines gravitational potential difference as: The gravitational potential difference is work done in moving a unit mass. It then goes on to explain the gravitational ...
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1answer
47 views

Typo in physics book (capacitors)

I'm currently working through an AP revision guide. The section on charging a capacitor outlines the following steps: When a capacitor is connected to a battery, a current flows in the circuit until ...
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1answer
62 views

Fleming's left hand rule

in Fleming's left hand rule is the direction of current showing the direction of the flow of electrons or the direction of positive charge?
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1answer
44 views

Charging a capacitor (terminals)

When a battery is connected to a conductor electrons are repelled from the end of the conductor connected to the negative terminal of the battery and flow to the end of the conductor connected to the ...
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3answers
31 views

Dealing with negative work

Dumb question, I'm working with vector fields right now, and one question on here tells me to assume an object can take on three paths from a to b. (paths not listed here) for times in [0,1] Now ...
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3answers
48 views

Gravitational field strength and potential different signs

In my revision guide the gravitational field strength is given as $g=GM/r^2$ whereas gravitational potential is $V=-GM/r$. Why does potential have a minus sign but field strength doesn't?
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1answer
49 views

Cryptic remark in physics revision guide

I am currently revising for my AP physics and I couldn't understand one of the end-of-section summary notes. It says: "Remember that the direction of magnetic field is from North to South, and that ...
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2answers
65 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
61 views

Why is the zero of electric potential taken to be $r = \infty$, rather than $r = 0?$

Wouldn't it make more sense if it was taken to be zero at $r = 0$? This seems to imply that with a negative test charge at $r = 0$ from a positive point charge, $V = -\infty$, which I have trouble ...
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2answers
62 views

What is precisely the energy scale of a process?

Coupling constants run with the energy scale $\mu$. But what is exactly this energy scale. My question is, if I have a physical process, how do I compute $\mu$?
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7answers
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Why the direction of dipole moment is from negative charge to positive charge?

An electric dipole moment is defined as $p = q\times 2d$. How to understand it physically? Why the direction of the electric dipole moment is from negative charge to positive charge?
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1answer
98 views

Electric flux of a closed surface, $\Psi = Q $ or $\Phi =\int\vec{E}\cdot d\vec{A}$

I have problem with the equation of electric flux. I use one book of fundamental physics and another book of electromagnetic engineering; the two of them give different equations for electric flux. ...
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1answer
70 views

Considering $\langle \underline{q} \mid \underline{p} \rangle=\frac{1}{(2\pi\hbar)^{n/2}}e^{i\underline{q}\cdot\underline{p}/\hbar}$ [duplicate]

I have been given the following complete systems of eigenvectors $$\mathbf{Q}\mid\mathbf{q} \rangle=\mathbf{q}\mid\mathbf{q} \rangle, \quad \mathbf{P}\mid\mathbf{p} \rangle=\mathbf{p}\mid\mathbf{p} ...