The definition tag is used in situations where the question is either about how some term or concept is define or where the validity of an answer depends on a subtle definition of some term or concept used in the question.

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1answer
36 views

Mathematical misunderstanding of Work-Potential Energy Theorem?

This is a relatively basic question, but I don't understand why it is the case. This is from my dynamics book and is mainly a mathematical misunderstanding. $$ \ dU = F\cos\theta ds $$ Which means ...
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0answers
24 views

How is the octane percentage defined? [migrated]

Normally octane percentage is mentioned on petrol (95% octane). How is this defined? Is it percentage of chemical or some other parameters?
4
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1answer
39 views

Definition of the quality $(Q)$ factor?

According to Wikipedia, the Q factor is defined as: $$Q=2\pi\frac{\mathrm{energy \, \, stored}}{\mathrm{energy \, \,dissipated \, \, per \, \, cycle}}$$ Here are my questions: Does the energy ...
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1answer
38 views

Defintion of temperature without thermal equilibrium condition

Is temperature only defined in thermal equilibrium? Then how can we explain heat flow by temperature differences?
0
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1answer
45 views

What is many-body bound state?

Bound state by definition is a state when particles are bounded together, so then "many-body bound state" would be bound state for a system of many bodies. Then I have several puzzles: 1. is the state ...
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1answer
48 views

Definition of “destructive” interference of waves

What is the commonly accepted precise definition of "destructive" interference of waves. Does it mean: interference with complete cancellation or interference where the amplitude gets smaller ...
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8answers
547 views

Energy and work

I don't quite understand the concept of energy and work. We can define energy as the ability to do work. An object moving at constant speed has kinetic energy. Does the object have the ability to do ...
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0answers
30 views

The relationship between the two statistical mechanical definitions of entropy

It seems like similar questions have been asked here; hopefully my question is not a duplicate. I am reading my textbook on the statistical mechanical definitions of entropy, and I am very confused ...
0
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2answers
71 views

How many psi's are in one bar?

6894.7573 bar = 100000.0 psi according to google 6894.7573 bar = 100000.0001 psi according to wolfram alpha which is it? How many psis are in one ...
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1answer
24 views

What does degrees of freedom mean in the context of vibrations?

If you have an $N$ degrees of freedom system what does this mean? What is the difference between a 1 and a 2 degrees of freedom system?
3
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1answer
65 views

Line integral definition of work clarification

So I am kind of confused about the role of force when calculating work. Specifically, when defining work using a line integral. There is a paragraph in my calculus book that is really throwing me off ...
0
votes
1answer
29 views

What does it mean by coherence between waves?

I know by definition, coherence is pair of waves that have constant phase difference. What does this mean? Does it mean they are always have a 360 degrees, or 0 degrees phase difference? Or could they ...
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2answers
74 views

Mathematical Definition of Locality

What is the mathematically precise definition of principle of locality in physics for a continuous space-time in the sense that an object is only directly influenced by its immediate surroundings?
7
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4answers
403 views

Is there a fundamental reason not to define the work vice-versa

My question arises from something which has never been really clear: in continuum mechanics, why is strain energy defined as: $$W=\int_\Omega ...
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2answers
68 views

Definition of torque for a continuous body

I am working on basic physics definitions. Given a particle at position $r$ (in some coorinate reference system) upon which acts a force $F$, the $torque$ $\tau$ is defined by \begin{equation} ...
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2answers
30 views

What is the difference between the actual distance covered by a projected object and the displacement?

What is the difference between the actual distance covered by a projected object and the displacement? A stone was projected with an angle of projection of 30 and it covered a horizontal distance ...
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1answer
48 views

Defining creation and annihilation operators

Creation and annihilation operators can be defined in several different ways, some more general than others. We usually choose to denote by $a$ the annihilation operator and by $a^\dagger$ the ...
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3answers
90 views

What is the physical meaning of electric potential, potential difference, and voltage?

When resembling the electricity flow through a wire to people walking through a street: electrons are people, current is the number of people, resistance is the barriers on the way. But what is the ...
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1answer
45 views

Angular displacement after full rotation

I was wondering is why angular displacement isn't $0$ after $n$ full rotations?
4
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3answers
919 views

Why does Law of Large Numbers work?

Often I see books and professors reasoning that, in order to make a good experiment, many measurements are necessary because then the average value of a quantity is closer to the expected value ...
0
votes
1answer
51 views

It seems wrong to find the mass using weight alone when using chemical compounds [duplicate]

The difference between mass and weight is pretty straightforward so then how can we WEIGH a substance then ask how many Daltons (atomic MASS units) are in that substance without a conversion in there ...
5
votes
4answers
128 views

Definition of Entropy in thermodynamics

In most textbooks, the definition of entropy in reversible processes on a system $S$ is given simply as $$d S=\delta Q/T.$$ It seems to me this definition is insufficient since it does not specify ...
1
vote
1answer
40 views

Definition respective derivation of angular momentum formula

I am reading An Introduction to Mechanics by Kleppner and Kolenkow (2014). On page 241 is the definition of the angular momentum: Here is the formal definition of the angular momentum $\vec{L}$ ...
0
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1answer
59 views

What is a conservative force?

Currently I have three different pictures to describe/understand conservative forces. For the moment I just want to get an electron from point A to point B. In the near surrounding is another electron ...
2
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0answers
74 views

What are Killing spinors?

What are Killing spinors? How can they be motivated? Are they directly related to Killing vectors and Killing tensors and is there an overarching motivation for all three objects? Any answer is ...
4
votes
4answers
586 views

Newton's first law: is his concept of (force of ) inertia still useful and used?

The force of inertia is the property common to all bodies that remain in their state, either at rest or in motion, unless some external cause is introduced to make them alter this state. That ...
2
votes
1answer
61 views

Definition of a field line?

Ok so I finished by A-levels last year (english exams 18 year olds take) and we defined in my physics course we defined field lines (for an electric field) as: The path a free positive test charge ...
1
vote
1answer
513 views

Derivation of formula of potential energy by a conservative force [duplicate]

the formula for potential energy by a conservative force is given by: $$ F = -\nabla U(r), $$ which in one dimension may be simplified to: $$ F = -\frac{dU}{dx} .$$ My question is how is it ...
4
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3answers
311 views

Axioms behind entropy!

The concept of entropy is very ubiquitous, we learn about its uses starting from Information Theory (Shannon entropy) up to its basic definition in statistical mechanics in terms of number of ...
2
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3answers
191 views

Potential energy graphs of chemical systems

I really wish someone could dissect this for me in the language of physics. The system is that of two atoms that approximate each other along 'r' (or distance themselves apart). My concerns are ...
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2answers
82 views

Speed of light and distance

Our measure of distance (the meter) is defined in terms of how far light in a vacuum travels in a specific time. When light travels through another medium, we say it travels at a different speed. Why ...
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2answers
178 views

What Exactly is a Shock Wave?

The Wikipedia defintion of a shock wave pretty much sums up all I've found online about what a shock wave is: A shock wave is a type of propagating disturbance. Like an ordinary wave, it carries ...
6
votes
9answers
2k views

What is entropy really?

On this site, change in entropy is defined as the amount of energy dispersed divided by the absolute temperature. But I want to know: What is the definition of entropy? Here, entropy is defined as ...
11
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4answers
632 views

A common definition of a scalar

Some dictionaries define a scalar as follows: A quantity, such as mass, length, or speed, that is completely specified by its magnitude and has no direction. -- The Free Dictionary However, it ...
0
votes
1answer
35 views

Variable definition in wave function for scattering particle?

For the wave function of a scattered particle when finding the scattering aptitude we have: $$\psi(r)=Ae^{ik_0∙r}+\frac{2\mu}{\hbar^2} ∫G(r-r')V(r')\psi(r')d^3r'$$ I was wondering what the variables ...
4
votes
3answers
696 views

Definition of a year

Is there an acceptable definition of a year (in number of days)? Google Calculator: https://www.google.com/search?q=seconds+in+1+year returns 3.15569e7 seconds and then ...
2
votes
2answers
77 views

Can we correctly define momentum operator only by means of position operator and their commutation relation?

In "J.M. Ziman. Electrons and Phonons: The Theory of Transport Phenomena in Solids" the author formally introduces the position (displacement) operator and then defines the momentum operator with the ...
7
votes
3answers
250 views

How was the definition and the formula of work derived? Is it the best possible?

Work done is defined as the dot product of force and displacement. However, intuitively, should it not be the product of force and the time for which the body is acted upon by the force (force * ...
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3answers
664 views

Differences between wavefunction, probability and probability density?

I am trying to understand the differences between wavefunction, probability and probability density. There are different definitions on the internet. For example: ...
24
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4answers
2k views

The physical definition of work seems paradoxical

So this is possibly a misunderstanding of the meaning of work, but all the Physics texts, sites, and wiki that I've read don't clear this up for me: In the simplest case with the simplest statement, ...
6
votes
3answers
179 views

Is a “shift in the meaning” of Accuracy and Precision occurring?

Accuracy and precision are among the most fundamental concepts in experimental physics, and, I always believed, completely unambiguous. Recently I found that the Wikipedia article on Accuracy and ...
4
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3answers
264 views

Existence of negative temperatures and the definition of entropy

How negative temperatures can be possible has been treated on StackExchange before (several times in fact), but in light of some recent academic discussion, most of these answers seem to be possibly ...
4
votes
1answer
186 views

What's the most fundamental definition of temperature?

What's the most fundamental definition of temperature? Is it the definition concern about average energy, number of micro states, or what? By "fundamental", I mean "to be applied" in such general ...
8
votes
4answers
440 views

On the definition of work

Work is defined as $$W = \vec{F}\cdot\vec{s}$$ But what what exactly is $\vec{s}$? Is it the displacement of the body on which the force is being applied? Or is it the displacement of the point of ...
9
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3answers
355 views

What does Feynman mean when he says that $F=ma$ is not exact?

Chapter 12-2 in Feynman Lectures Vol. 1 states: In fact the law, $F=ma$ is not exactly true; if it were a definition we should have to say that it is always true; but it is not ... First, ...
2
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2answers
92 views

Meaning of “Grounded”

In my opinion, "grounded" means having the same potential as the potential at infinity, which is usually set to zero. Now if we consider a conductor inside a uniform electric field, what is the ...
2
votes
1answer
137 views

What type of mathematical structure is a physicist's definition of a vector space?

A vector space as defined by a mathematician lacks the invariant scalar product that lies at the heart of what I would define as a physicist's definition of a vector space that models the physical ...
11
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4answers
1k views

Why is the space-time interval squared?

The space-time interval equation is this: $$\Delta s^2=\Delta x^2+\Delta y^2+\Delta z^2-(c\Delta t)^2$$ Where, $\Delta x, \Delta y, \Delta z$ and $\Delta t$ represent the distances along various ...
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0answers
58 views

Should Brillouin zone be a continuous object rather than a discrete one in the thermodynamic limit?

For example, just consider a 1D atom chain with $N$ sites and lattice constant $a=2\pi$, under periodic boundary conditions, the crystal momentum reads as $k=\frac{n}{N}\frac{2\pi}{a}=\frac{n}{N}$, ...
7
votes
2answers
396 views

Why is the absolute zero a rational number in Celcius?

From the question "Why is the absolute zero -273.15ºC?" I understood that 1°C is the 100th part of the difference of melting and boiling temperature of water (this is my high school physics, ...