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 does public mains power use 50-60 Hz and 100-240 V?

Is there a physical reason behind the frequency and voltage in the mains electricity? I do not want to know why exactly a certain value was chosen; I am rather interested to know why that range/order ...
28
votes
2answers
802 views

Identification of particles and anti-particles

The identification of an electron as a particle and the positron as an antiparticle is a matter of convention. We see lots of electrons around us so they become the normal particle and the rare and ...
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8answers
25k views

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 ...
24
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1answer
2k views

Why is the partition function called ''partition function''?

The partition function plays a central role in statistical mechanics. But why is it called ''partition function''?
24
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2answers
688 views

What are the proposed realizations in the New SI for the kilogram, ampere, kelvin and mole?

The metrology world is currently in the middle of overhauling the definitions of the SI units to reflect the recent technological advances that enable us to get much more precise values for the ...
23
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2answers
1k 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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2answers
3k views

Why is the cut off mass for massive stars 8 solar masses? Why can't it be 10-11 solar masses or so?

I know that stars having a mass greater than or equal to 8 solar masses are termed "massive stars". But why is the cut-off 8 solar masses?
18
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4answers
4k views

Why are grams usually only expressed as milligrams, grams or kilograms?

I'm a physics (and electronics and astronomy, etc.) enthusiast. As I learn and research topics, I notice that many SI units are often expressed using a variety of prefixes, such as in electronics ...
16
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2answers
8k views

Difference between $\Delta$, $d$ and $\delta$

I have read the thread regarding 'the difference between the operators between $\delta$ and $d$', but it does not answer my question. I am confused about the notation for change in Physics. In ...
14
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4answers
1k views

Are insulators and conductors arbitrary categories?

I have seen charts showing the transition from insulator to semi-conductor is at $10^{-8}~\frac{\text{S}}{\text{cm}}$ and between semi-conductor and conductor is $10^{3}~\frac{\text{S}}{\text{cm}}$. ...
14
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2answers
6k views

Square bracket notation for dimensions and units: usage and conventions

One of the most useful tools in dimensional analysis is the use of square brackets around some physical quantity $q$ to denote its dimension as $$[q].$$ However, the precise meaning of this symbol ...
10
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4answers
963 views

How to indicate that a unit is dimensionless [duplicate]

For my dissertation I am preparing a list of symbols used in the text, which basically is a table that consists of the symbol, a short explanation and the dimension it has as indicated below: ...
9
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1answer
236 views

Why is there $1/2\pi$ in $\int\frac{dp}{2\pi}|p\rangle\langle p|$?

I'm reading Richard MacKenzie's lectures on path integrals and on page 7 he derives the propagator for the free particle as follows: $$ \begin{align} K &= \langle q'|e^{-iHT}|q\rangle \\ &= ...
8
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2answers
431 views

How come the universe is made of matter and not antimatter?

Antimatter is like matter on opposite day: it has the same properties as the stuff that makes up planets, stars and galaxies, but one vital piece is different—its charge. The universe supposedly ...
7
votes
6answers
2k views

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 ...
7
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1answer
3k views

Who (and Why) started the “electrons are negative, protons are positive” convention? [duplicate]

For some reason everyone labels electrons using a minus sign and protons using a positive sign, even though the opposite seems more intuitive: Who started the convention that electrons should be ...
7
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5answers
505 views

Is the number 1 a unit?

In dimensionless analysis, coefficients of quantities which have the same unit for numerator and denominator are said to be dimensionless. I feel the word dimensionless is actually wrong and should be ...
7
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2answers
153 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, ...
7
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2answers
443 views

Historical reason behind using $ν$ instead of $f$ to stand for frequency in the equation $E=hν$?

Normally, we use the letter $f$ to stand for frequency in equations. $$T = 1/f$$ $$v = \lambda f$$ $$Φ +E_k = h f$$ So I'm curious as why the letter $ν$ (nu) is used to represent frequency in the ...
6
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3answers
10k views

What does “clockwise” mean, exactly? [closed]

I am in the middle of a discussion with a friend about the meaning of the term "clockwise". Wikipedia indicates that a clockwise rotation goes as top-right-down-left. However, my friend argues that ...
6
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1answer
939 views

“Natural units” of mass

Gravitational attraction is given by $\frac{GMm}{r^2}$ while attraction due to electric charge is given by $\frac{q_1 q_2}{r^2}$. Why does gravity need a constant while electric charge doesn't? ...
6
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3answers
1k views

Why do we still not have an exact definition for a kilogram?

I read that there is an effort to define a kilogram in terms that can exactly be reproduced in a lab. Why has it taken so long to get this done? It seems this would be fairly important. Edit Today I ...
6
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2answers
990 views

Why is there a minus sign in this wave equation derivation?

My book on quantum mechanics suggests a derivation of the wave equation $$\left(\Delta - \frac{1}{c^2} \frac{\partial^2}{\partial t^2} \right) \psi(\bar{r},t) = 0$$ from the photon energy-impulse ...
6
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1answer
1k views

Is 4-volume element a scalar or a pseudoscalar in special relativity?

In general relativity 4-volume element $\mathrm{d}^4 x = \mathrm{d} x^0\mathrm{d} x^1 \mathrm{d} x^2\mathrm{d} x^3$ is clearly a pseudoscalar (or scalar density) of weight 1 since it transforms as ...
6
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2answers
209 views

Performing Wick Rotation to get Euclidean action of scalar field

I'm working with the signature $(+,-,-,-)$ and with a Minkowski space-stime Lagrangian $$ \mathcal{L}_M = \Psi^\dagger\left(i\partial_0 + \frac{\nabla^2}{2m}\right)\Psi $$ The Minkowski action is $$ ...
5
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2answers
467 views

Why do we order the variables in certain physics questions the way we do?

I'm writing a script involving physics equations, and someone complained that my script outputs $F = m a$ as $F = a m$, as well as outputting $E_p = m g h$ as $E_p = g h m$; another example would be ...
5
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2answers
8k views

Is negative 20 psi / 1.5 bar possible?

If I understand correctly, negative pressure usually means relative pressure: the difference between inside and outside. If outside is normal (1 bar, 15 psi, 100 kPa etc), how low can the (relative) ...
5
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4answers
16k 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?
5
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3answers
1k 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 ...
5
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2answers
753 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 ...
5
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1answer
181 views

Explicit form of $\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu$ in the Dirac equation

I'm in an introductory particle physics class, and in performing manipulations on the Dirac equation, my instructor expands the $\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu$ term as: $$\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu = \gamma^0 ...
5
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1answer
82 views

Staggered Indices ($\Lambda^\mu{}_\nu$ vs. $\Lambda_\mu{}^\nu$) on Lorentz Transformations

I have some open-ended questions on the use of staggered indices in writing Lorentz transformations and their inverses and transposes. What are the respective meanings of $\Lambda^\mu{}_\nu$ as ...
5
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3answers
191 views

Charge signs in current

I've had recently an argument with my friend about different charge carriers in an electric current. Suppose that electrons and holes are moving in the same direction. It effectively means we have ...
5
votes
2answers
177 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
98 views

Proportionality Constant in Einstein Field Equations

The Einstein Field Equations: $$G_{ab}~=~8\pi T_{ab}.$$ I am familiar with how to obtain the $8\pi$ proportionality factor through correspondence with Newtonian gravity, but am wondering if this ...
4
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4answers
308 views

What is the right order of creation operators?

I started to learn some basics of second quantisation and specifically its use in quantum chemistry. Currently I'm reading this book by Péter R. Surján, and here is small excerpt from it. If one ...
4
votes
3answers
131 views

Metric signature conventions: minus sign for $x^a$ or $x_a$?

Say I use the metric signature $(-+++)$. Then $\partial_a=(\partial_0,\partial_i)=(-\partial^0,\partial^i)$, but $\partial^a=(\partial^0,\partial^i)=(-\partial_0,\partial_i)$. The same goes for $p^a$ ...
4
votes
8answers
18k views

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?
4
votes
4answers
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Sign of Work and potential energy in electrostatics

Conceptual question: Suppose we have a configuration of point charges. If the potential of the energy of the system is negative, this means work is positive. I'm kind of rusty with my mechanics, ...
4
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1answer
358 views

Why isn't the quark charge taken as primitive?

Why are electrons taken implicitly to be the elementary charge? It would save a lot of fractions in particle physics problems.
4
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2answers
175 views

Getting the Lagrangian from the action in curved spacetime

Suppose I have this action: $$ S = \int \mathrm d^4 x\sqrt{-g}\times \text{something}$$ where $g$ is the determinant of the metric. Should I take the Lagrangian to be: $$ \mathcal L = \sqrt{-g} ...
4
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2answers
247 views

$2\pi$ and Feynman Rules

I notice a $2\pi$ term in the $\delta$-function when trying to construct an amplitude using the Feynman Rules. The $2\pi$ also appears as an integration measure to enforce normalisation in the phase ...
4
votes
2answers
102 views

Does metric signature affect the stress energy tensor?

If one were to derive the stress-energy tensor for a metric with $(+,-,-,-)$ signature would it be different from the stress-energy tensor derived from the same metric but with $(-,+,+,+)$ signature?
4
votes
2answers
671 views

Sign of the totally anti-symmetric Levi-Civita tensor $\varepsilon^{\mu_1 \ldots}$ when raising indices

I am confused with the sign we get when we want to raise or lower all indices of the totally anti-symmetric tensor of any rank. Take the metric to be mostly plus ($-+\ldots+$). Then is it ...
4
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5answers
6k views

Why is potential energy negative when orbiting in a gravitational field?

I had to do a problem, and part of it was to find the mechanical energy of satellite orbiting around mars, and I had all of the information I needed. I thought the total mechanical energy would be the ...
4
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2answers
189 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 ...
4
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1answer
168 views

Why “colours” of light are given in wavelength not frequency?

If I understand correctly, when a beam of (monochromatic) light passes through media of different refractive indices, its wavelength changes but frequency remains constant. Why, then, are colours of ...
4
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1answer
112 views

Confusion about the Kronecker delta symbol

I am not sure I understand what the short-hand anti-symmetrization means. I.e. I know that $$\delta_{cd}^{[ab]} ~=~ \frac{1}{2}(\delta_{c}^{a}\delta_{d}^{b} - \delta_{c}^{b}\delta_{d}^{a})$$ but how ...
4
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1answer
50 views

Should the trace of a product of gamma matrices depend on the convention I use?

I am trying to work out $$\text{Tr}[\gamma_5\gamma_\mu\gamma_\nu\gamma_\alpha\gamma_\beta]$$ using the same convention as J.J. Sakurai (Advanced Quantum Mechanics), what I get is ...
4
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2answers
82 views

Maxwell's equations from differential forms

I found the following in some lecture notes I took some time ago: $$ \mathbf{E}=-\text{grad}\Phi-\partial_t\mathbf{A}\\ \mathbf{B}=\mathrm{rot}\mathbf{A} $$ These are the electromagnetic fields ...