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 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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2answers
92 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
261 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 ...
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8answers
7k views

Definition of “direction”

Is there an actual definition of "direction" (that is, spatial direction) in physics, or is it just one of those terms that's left undefined? In physics textbooks it's always just taken for granted ...
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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3answers
3k views

Why is 1 AU the distance between the Sun and the Earth?

Why 1 AU is defined as the distance between the Sun and the Earth? (approximately if you like to be precise) An astronomical unit (abbreviated as AU, au, a.u., or ua) is a unit of length ...
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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 ...
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2answers
553 views

Potential functions

Can someone please explain what a potential is? Example. velocity potential in ideal flows, acoustic potential (gradient of which gives the particle velocity in a sound wave). Whenever I see potential ...
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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 ...
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3answers
265 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 ...
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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 ...
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3answers
203 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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4answers
829 views

Physical meaning of Impedance

So I have been thinking about the way impedance is defined for electrical systems, and the way it is derived. Even after looking through some websites, I cannot seem to grasp something, which every ...
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3answers
617 views

Why is the absolute zero -273.15ºC?

I can't find an answer of why the lowest temperature is -273.15ºC. Is it deduced theoretically or is it experimental? An explanation is that when any gas volume tends to zero, the temperature will be ...
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2answers
756 views

Meaning of the phrase “dipole moment of the combination”

Here is a question I came across in a book: Three point charges $-q$,$-q$ and $2q$ are placed on the vertices of an equilateral triangle of side length $d$ units.What is the dipole moment of the ...
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3answers
250 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
61 views

Vesta dwarf planet status

Now that we have close-up photos of Vesta, which the IAU had previously said was a candidate dwarf planet, when is the IAU going to decide the issue? Personally, Vesta doesn't look round enough to me. ...
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1answer
169 views

Is a singularity a real thing?

I've heard the work a few times now, the most recent in the star trek film. Is a singularity a real thing? If so what is it?
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1answer
103 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". ...
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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 ...
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2answers
384 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} = ...
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3answers
2k views

What's the difference between “boundary value problems” and “initial value problems”?

Mathematically speaking, is there any essential difference between initial value problems and boundary value problems? The specification of the values of a function $f$ and the "velocities" ...
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2answers
177 views

Observationally indistinguishable quantum states

What does it mean for 2 quantum states to be "observationally indistinguishable"? If I may venture a guess: Does that mean that the set of possible measured values are the same though the ...
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2answers
303 views

Higgs boson and quasiparticles

Do we know exactly the difference between particles and quasiparticles? Is Higgs boson a particle or a quasiparticle? I ask this because if I understood well, Higgs boson created by a spontaneaous ...
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1answer
308 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 ...
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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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2answers
539 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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2answers
2k 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 ...
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3answers
256 views

What is a “Center Of Mass” issue of a Gorillapod?

I read somewhere that a Gorillapod may have "Center Of Mass" issues when used with the long lenses. So, I wish to understand what is a "Center Of Mass" issue? I have to clarify that I am NOT a ...
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2answers
294 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 ...
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3answers
10k 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
901 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 ...
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2answers
9k views

Are all metals good conductor of electricity?

I am writing an article for kids, which is on conductors and insulators of electricity. If I make a statement that "All metals are electrical conductors and all non-metals are electrical insulators" ...
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2answers
1k views

what is meant by “crossover phenomena”?

In many articles I read the term "crossover phenomena" and a lot of methodology discussed according to it, with little or no description about what is meant by it. Sometimes there is a connection to ...
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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
392 views

What is “charge discreteness”?

I assume it is some kind of quantity. Google only made things more confusing. I get that it has something to do with circuits. I also get what a discrete charge is. In fact, I thought charges ...
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3answers
768 views

How is Planck's law defined?

Now, I found three different definitions of Planck's law: $$ P_1(\nu,T) = \frac{8 \pi}{c}\frac{h \nu^{3}}{c^2} \frac{1}{e^{h\nu/kT}-1} $$ $$ P_2(\nu,T) = 2\frac{h \nu^{3}}{c^2} ...
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3answers
3k views

What is a dynamical variable

I see the phrase 'dynamical variable' in several of my texts and they don't really define it. A google search doesn't yield much either. I have gathered that a dynamical variable can be represented ...
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1answer
165 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 ...
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2answers
290 views

What does Power really mean?

I've been trying to solve a problem for some time. I have been given conflicting information by both literature, colleagues and people on this very forum. It's a very simple question: What is the ...
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2answers
1k views

What is phenomenological equation and phenomenological model?

I come across these terms in some papers. My understanding is that it is an equation or model describing a phenomenon. Usually, the equations are given and claimed to be true with only some ...
3
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1answer
92 views

Neutral current: terminology

In particle physics, where does the term 'neutral current' originate? An example would be an electron exchanging a Z boson with another electron. I understand that the Z boson itself is neutral, but ...
3
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1answer
173 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 ...
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1answer
328 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 ...
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3answers
657 views

How do Temperature Scales work?

How exactly do temperature scales work? If my understanding is correct, the Celsius scale has two fixed points: (definitions of temperature irrespective of scale) 1. The freezing point of pure water ...
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1answer
96 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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2answers
66 views

What does “sites” mean in the lattice language?

I acknowledge that this question is quite trivial. But in the lattice jargon, what does a $N$-sites lattice mean? it's a lattice $N\times N$ or it's a lattice with $N$ vertices? another option ...
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1answer
110 views

Does a reference or classification standard for altitude classifications of geocentric orbits exist?

I'm looking for a primary reference of the altitude classifications of geocentric orbits (LEO, MEO, GEO, HEO), but I was not able to find something so far. I noticed that there is very different ...