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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2answers
298 views

What is the gamma five matrix $\gamma_5$?

This Wikipedia page explains that for each of the four main gamma matrices $\gamma^{\mu}$, you can find the covariant matrices $\gamma_{\mu}$ with the equation $\gamma_{\mu} = ...
-3
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2answers
132 views

Do physics laws really apply to anything? [closed]

My professor said that a law was stated and announced as a law because it happens in our everyday life. He gave us an example of Newton's 3 laws. He said that walking possess 3 laws of Newton's. Is ...
1
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3answers
306 views

What is “first order“ and “second order” in time?

What is the meaning of the text quoted below? In the physical world, if a system is described by an equation that is first order in time, the system is general dissipative (has energy loss). ...
1
vote
1answer
226 views

Difference between Poynting vector and energy flux density?

Are those two terms the same, or...? My book says that the Poynting vector is an energy flux density given by: $$\mathbf{S} = \frac{1}{\mu_{0}}(\mathbf{E} \times \mathbf{B})$$ So that alone should ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is a degree Celsius exactly the same as a Kelvin?

How on earth is it possible that the difference between two temperatures in Celsius and Kelvin is exactly the same. Given the historical definition of Celsius, I find it hard to believe that this is ...
11
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2answers
556 views

Unitary quantum field theory

What do physicists mean when they refer to a quantum field theory being unitary? Does this mean that all the symmetry groups of the theory act via unitary representations? I would appreciate if one ...
2
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3answers
351 views

What is the general statistical definition of temperature?

Temperature in an isolated system is defined as: $$\frac{1}{T} = -\frac{\partial{S(E,V,N)}}{\partial{E}} $$ But I wonder how one can generalize this to a random system. Or for instance to a point in ...
2
votes
1answer
159 views

Doubts about the definition of mass

I'm having some problems understanding what are the possible definitons of mass and how they are related to each other. In Classical Mechanics, we can distinguish between inertial and gravitational ...
6
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6answers
6k views

What do people actually mean by “rolling without slipping”?

I have never understood what's the meaning of the sentence "rolling without slipping". Let me explain. I'll give an example. Yesterday my mechanics professor introduced some concepts of rotational ...
2
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0answers
115 views

Holonomy twisting

There is Witten's topological twist of standard SUSY QFTs with enough SUSY into Witten-type TQFTs. What is a holonomy twist?
1
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2answers
514 views

Clarification regarding Newton's Third Law of Motion and why movement is possible [duplicate]

Newton's third law states that to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If that's the case, then how do things move at all? Shouldn't all applied forces be canceled by the equal and ...
0
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2answers
5k views

Definition of electric charge and proper explanation

Is there a definition of electric charge and proper explanation of it? It is said "Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes it to experience a force when close to other ...
1
vote
2answers
728 views

Definition of Static Electricity

The result of an imbalance of electrons between objects is called static electricity. It is called "static" because the displaced electrons tend to remain stationary after being moved from one ...
0
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2answers
820 views

How would you determine whether an object is at equilibrium? [closed]

How would you determine whether an object is at equilibrium or not? What is the definition of equilibrium?
1
vote
1answer
120 views

A physical sense of an Inertial frame

Definition clarification needed, please: I am hoping to get physical sense of an "inertial frame". Do inertial reference frames all have zero curvature for their spacetime? So is an inertial frame ...
2
votes
2answers
260 views

Electrostatic Potential Definition

In the book, Introduction to electrodynamics by David J. Griffiths, he introduces potential separately as a function and potential energy through that function. How can potential be defined before ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

A sphere, a simple object?

In this video, the woman says that a sphere is a pretty simple object. What intrigues me is the use of a sphere for such a calculation. First of all, the sphere wouldn't be perfect as a perfect sphere ...
3
votes
1answer
93 views

For how long must a molecule remain stable to be considered “stable”?

In the Star Trek: Voyager episode The Omega Directive, Seven of Nine says that the Borg synthesized a molecule which was "kept [] stable for one trillionth of a nanosecond before it destabilized". ...
1
vote
1answer
152 views

How do you actually define an orbit?

How do you actually define an orbit? I believe, Newtonian Mechanics describes an orbit as one object in free fall around another where projectile paths become elliptical. I think, Einstein describes ...
1
vote
1answer
222 views

Definition of energy

What is the definition of energy $E$ given a dispersion relation $\omega=\omega(k)$ where $k=|\vec k|$ and $\omega$ is not necessarily linearly proportional to $k$? What about momentum $\vec p$? This ...
4
votes
1answer
225 views

Hamiltonians, density of state, BECs

When working with Bose-Einstein condensates trapped in potentials, how can one tell what the density of state of a system of identical bosons given the Hamiltonian, $H$? (I have been told that it is ...
1
vote
0answers
312 views

How is the term “Born level” usually defined?

How is the term "Born level" usually defined, e.g. in talking about the $pp\to Z/\gamma^*\to e^+e^-$ cross section at Born level?
4
votes
1answer
125 views

Does the Kelvin have a rigorous definition?

From Wikipedia: The kelvin is defined as the fraction 1⁄273.16 of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water. That presupposes that we can take a fraction of temperature. Now, ...
1
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0answers
77 views

Motivation For Definitions [closed]

I noticed in my physics textbook that we define certain relationships to be true. I can see how this is considerably helpful in deriving other relationships from these definitions; for instance, take ...
2
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3answers
198 views

Question on Radiance equation

The radiance equation is $$ L = \frac{d}{dA} \frac{2(\phi)}{dW cos(\theta)} (watt/srm^2) $$ where $\phi$ is the flux. I am thinking, should not be the cosine term on the numerator instead of the ...
4
votes
4answers
18k views

What is the difference between center of mass and center of gravity?

What is the difference between center of mass and center of gravity? These terms seem to be used interchangeably. Is there a difference between them for non-moving object on Earth, or moving objects ...
3
votes
2answers
258 views

Definition of “Quantizing”

Could anyone explain to me what "quantize" means in the following context? Quantize the 1-D harmonic oscillator for which $$H~=~{p^2\over 2m}+{1\over 2} m\omega^2 x^2.$$ I understand that the ...
7
votes
1answer
311 views

Operator Ordering Ambiguities

I have been told that $$[\hat x^2,\hat p^2]=2i\hbar (\hat x\hat p+\hat p\hat x)$$ illustrates operator ordering ambiguity. What does that mean? I tried googling but to no avail.
7
votes
1answer
310 views

Introduction to Gauge Symmetries: Good, Bad or Ugly?

I'm trying to come up with a good (as in intuitive and not 'too wrong') definition of a gauge symmetry. This is what I have right now: A dynamical symmetry is a (differentiable) group of ...
0
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2answers
126 views

Definitions of Lagrange points: $L_4$ and $L_5$

We have the the five Lagrange points (let consider Earth and Sun): $L_1$ - lie between Sun and Earth; $L_2$ - beyond the Earth; $L_3$ - beyond the Sun; And what's the difference between $L_4$ and ...
12
votes
2answers
440 views

What accounts for the discrepancies in my calculations of year lengths?

A common exercise in many introductory astronomy texts is to use the lengths of various kinds days to calculate the approximate length of the corresponding year. For example, ratio $k$ of the length ...
3
votes
2answers
709 views

The definition of entropy in quantum mechanics

I have seen entropy with several different definitions. Like Von Neumann entropy and Rényi entropy, etc. So I am curious why there are so many different definitions in quantum mechanics while only ...
5
votes
1answer
223 views

Definition of Fine-Tuning

I've looked in and out the forum, and found no precise definition of the meaning of fine-tuning in physics. QUESTION Is it possible to give a precise definition of fine-tuning? Of course, I guess ...
7
votes
2answers
246 views

Is surface of a solid a streamline?

In fluid dynamics, streamlines are defined as line where at each point flow velocity is tangential to the line. Is it correct to say surface of a solid a streamline? On the surface the velocity vector ...
15
votes
10answers
5k views

What is the difference between weight and mass?

My science teacher is always saying the words "weight of an object" and "mass of an object," but then my physics book (that I read on my own) tells me completely different definitions from the way ...
3
votes
1answer
287 views

Mathematical definitions in string theory

Does anyone know of a book that has mathematical definitions of a string, a $p$-brane, a $D$-brane and other related topics. All the books I have looked at don't have a precise definition and this is ...
1
vote
3answers
761 views

What is meant by potential energy for a particle in a field?

Potential energy is usually defined using a field and a particle that experiences the field force, as the work down in moving a unit particle from infinity to a position in that field. But some ...
1
vote
1answer
777 views

Which one true in First law of thermodynamics: $Q = \Delta U \pm W = \Delta U \pm p\Delta V$ or $\Delta U= \Delta Q + \Delta W $?

Which one true in First law of thermodynamics: $Q = \Delta U \pm W = \Delta U \pm p\Delta V$? (where $\Delta U$ is change of internal energy, $W$ work made by system and $Q=cm\Delta T $ heat made ...
0
votes
1answer
199 views

What would it take for a physical phenomenon to be telekinetic?

I've just watched an episode by MinutePhysics called "Real World Telekinesis". In it, Neil Turok (I wonder if that is his actual name; I remember playing a game called "Turok: Dinosaur Hunter" on ...
0
votes
1answer
140 views

Why the kilogram is not defined? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why do we still not have an exact definition for a kilogram? I was thinking about SI units. I found the following definition for the base units: Meter: distance ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

What does the phrase “limb of the earth” or “atmospheric limb” mean?

What does the term limb of the earth (see this question, for example) or atmospheric limb mean? The phrase strikes me as very odd, since earth is nearly spherical. Do other planets with atmospheres ...
1
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1answer
259 views

Tensors: relations between physics and linear algebra

In continuum mechanics we use finite deformation tensors to exprime deformations in a point. The 9 components of the tensor (in reality 6 because of its symmetry) are defined as $$ ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Are all central forces conservative? Wikipedia must be wrong

It might be just a simple definition problem but I learned in class that a central force does not necessarily need to be conservative and the German Wikipedia says so too. However, the English ...
2
votes
1answer
163 views

How can we test if something is a wave?

More specifically, I want to understand why a wave is a wave but a wave packet is not considered a wave (as discussed in this question). I would think that if something have these characteristics: 1. ...
1
vote
1answer
294 views

Hamiltonian Flow Map

I'm reading this article and am struggling with some of the terminology. What is the flow map for a Hamiltonian system? I'm looking for a rigorous definition really! Many thanks in advance.
1
vote
1answer
133 views

What are “cycles of anomaly” and “cycles of longitude”?

In several early (pre-1600) astronomical texts I read about "cycles of anomaly" and "cycles of longitude", but it us unclear to me what these terms mean. They were clearly familiar to authors at the ...
1
vote
2answers
597 views

Why is work defined as force dot displacement?

Why is work defined as force dot displacement? I know that it is defined like that based on the observational fact - we do more work when we apply greater force or move to a greater distance. But I ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

273 + degree Celsius = Kelvin. Why 273?

Temperature conversion: 273 + degree Celsius = Kelvin Actually why is that 273? How does one come up with this? My teacher mentioned Gann's law (not sure if this is the one) but I couldn't find ...
1
vote
2answers
204 views

Why are atoms particles?

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of particle is as follows: "A component of the physical world smaller than the atom." I read an article in NewScientist and it said "...all particles from ...
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3answers
649 views

Stationary Solutions

An unbelievably basic question, but it's something I've never been taught. Am I right in thinking that the following defines a stationary solution? Let $\phi$ be some dynamical variable satisfying a ...