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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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 ...
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0answers
109 views

Is the concept of inertia still used? When is it useful as a fictitious force? [closed]

Is the concept of inertia still used? When is it useful as a fictitious force? Can you list a few situations in which, if we didn't use this tool we might be in difficulty?
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1answer
58 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 ...
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1answer
107 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 ...
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3answers
245 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 ...
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3answers
47 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
77 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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1answer
83 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 ...
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8answers
1k 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 ...
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4answers
622 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 ...
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1answer
29 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 ...
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3answers
670 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 ...
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2answers
70 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 ...
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3answers
171 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
118 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: ...
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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, ...
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3answers
139 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
194 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
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1answer
176 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 ...
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4answers
426 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
312 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, ...
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2answers
76 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
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1answer
129 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 ...
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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
53 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 $k=\frac{n}{N}\frac{2\pi}{a}=\frac{n}{N}$, ...
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2answers
373 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, ...
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3answers
371 views

Non-linear dynamics vs Chaos

I am confusing between non linear dynamics and chaos. Chaos is also a non-linear dynamics right? then what is the difference between chaos and non-linear dynamics? What I understood about chaos is ...
0
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1answer
749 views

Difference between angular frequency and angular velocity?

What is the difference between angular frequency and angular velocity? I think one is used for SHM and the other for circular motion? Also can both be used for centreptal accelartion? I think angular ...
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3answers
5k views

What is the difference between stress and pressure?

What is the difference between stress and pressure? Are there any intuitive examples that explain the difference between the two? How about an example of when pressure and stress are not equal?
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2answers
72 views

Number of supersymmetric charge and the meaning of $\cal N$

I have been thinking about the definition of the notation $\cal N$ and its relation to the number of supercharges in SUSY, but still feel a little confused. In dimension 2, we usually denote, for ...
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1answer
43 views

What is the relationship between the verbal definition and the mathematical definition of some quantities?

I know this is probably an easy question, but it's been a while since I've studied physics and I've started reading some circuit analysis textbooks. I'm finding hard to understand the relationship ...
0
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1answer
97 views

Determination of displacement value in work formula

A net force will always create displacement which approaches infinity if left undisturbed. So how to fix a value of displacement in work formula? Isn't a mention time interval necessary? Or do we ...
3
votes
2answers
497 views

What is charge actually? How to define it? [closed]

Is charge of something for (e.g.) an electron related to electromagnetic space if it exists due to energy, due to which it may have mass? I don't know about quantum mechanics or advanced particle ...
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1answer
53 views

What is Work? What does the quantity suggest intuitively? [duplicate]

The mathematical formula for work says that work is force into displacement, but what is the philosophy behind it? I mean what does the quantity suggest?
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1answer
93 views

The formula used to calculate electrical potential energy

Sorry for the ugly picture but it makes my question more understandable. The $\Delta V$ from $A$ to $B$ is calculated by$$\int_A^B E \, \mathrm{d}r$$ where $r$ is the distance between $A$ and $B$. ...
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1answer
105 views

Second Rank Tensors [duplicate]

I'm a little confused, for the twentieth time, on what tensors are. I thought they were a generalization of matrices-but then they have special transformation rules. I'm looking for a concise ...
6
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0answers
138 views

What does “mathematically well defined” quantum field theory mean? [duplicate]

Reading Wald's book (page 380, end of the first paragraph of section 14.1) while the author is giving an overall discussion of quantum field theories you can read However, for the more interesting ...
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5answers
271 views

Are events in this experiment simultaneous if observed in platform's frame?

In some contexts e.g. on wiki it is defined as a matter of happening . In others(e.g. as defined by Einstein in his book "Relativity the special and general theory") it is defined as a matter of ...
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1answer
95 views

Zwiebach scalar product notation

I am currently working through Zwiebach's a First Course in String Theory. He seems to use dot-product notation interchangeably with the "down-up" notation. For example, on pg 176/section 9.1, he ...
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3answers
222 views

What Does it Mean for an Extra Dimension to Have Size?

Recently I watched this presentation by Brian Greene on string theory. In it he describes how the reason we don't observe the extra dimensions required by string theory could be because they are very ...
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1answer
101 views

What is the difference between a skew-symmetric and an antisymmetric tensor?

What is the difference between a skew-symmetric and an anti-symmetric tensor? If they represent the same tensor, then why use different labeling.
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2answers
259 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 ...
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3answers
187 views

Defining left and right independent of a human body?

Is it possible to define right and left independent of the asymmetric human body? I am unable to think of such a definition without circular reasoning. Example: If you are facing east, your left ...
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3answers
107 views

Direction of motion

What does the term direction of motion actually mean? Is it a direction where a particle is moving or the direction of its velocity? For example, what is the direction of motion of a projectile in ...
0
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1answer
482 views

Distinguish between instantaneous speed and instantaneous velocity

I encountered a line in my text book of physics that: Average speed over a finite interval of time is greater or equal to the magnitude of the average velocity. But instantaneous speed at an ...
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0answers
50 views

Equilibrium Condition

In classical thermodynamics, equilibrium conditions means maximum entropy for a closed state. However, people always talk about equilibrium for open systems as well. How can one say that an open ...
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2answers
508 views

What does it mean to be stationary?

I'm looking for a simple answer. What do we regard a stationary. Do we mean an object that is not moving noticeable from the viewers perspective because then a parked car would be considered ...
2
votes
1answer
124 views

Definition of mean free time in the Drude model

In the Drude model they derive a formule for the conductivity of a conductor. I wonder though how the main free time $\tau$ is defined in this formula. Wikipedia says that it is "the average time ...
0
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1answer
161 views

Modular invariance of CFT

I am looking at the Cardy formula for entropy in CFT, and in the article 'Kerr/CFT correspondence and its Extensions' there is a sentence: In any unitary and modular invariant CFT, the asymptotic ...
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3answers
770 views

Angular Displacement

If something is rotating about a point and it covers a complete circle, should we take its angular displacement as 360 degree or 0? Please give link to some established material on this subject ...