The definition tag is used in situations where the question is either about how some term or concept is defined 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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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 ...
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Inertia Vs Momentum

At my recent lesson on kinematics, my teacher taught about inertia and momentum. This is what she said. Inertia: a characteristic of an object that resists changes to its state of motion. Momentum: ...
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605 views

Can temperature be defined as propensity to transmit thermal energy?

I was recently surprised to learn that defining temperature isn't easy. For a long time, it was defined operationally: how much does a thermometer expand. Also surprising, temperature isn't a ...
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670 views

What is a Theory of Everything (TOE)?

I see many learned contribution about the role of a Theory of Everything (TOE), what it might do or not do, what kind of answer it might provide, and what not. But I do not know what a TOE is, how I ...
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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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643 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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1answer
561 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
209 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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8answers
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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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1answer
270 views

Why are the quantum observables defined on opens sets a presheaf and not a sheaf?

In local quantum field theory or AQFT one can mathematically describe over each open set $U$ of a spacetime $M$ the quantum states or observables of the theory. This structure is commonly referred as ...
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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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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 ...
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Entanglement spectrum

What does it mean by the entanglement spectrum of a quantum system? A brief introduction and a few key references would be appreciated.
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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 ...
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What is a mode?

Admittedly, this seems like a very simple question. The word mode pops up in every field of physics, yet I can't remember ever having read what I felt was a precise and sensible definition. After ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
267 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
220 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, ...
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Is temperature an extensive property, like density?

I was thinking about it some time ago, and now that I've discovered this site I would like to ask it here because I couldn't work it out then. I know that the higher temperature the air in my room ...
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2answers
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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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660 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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1answer
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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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299 views

Can we rigorously define force?

I'm looking to get rigorous definitions on which to base the important quantities in classical mechanics. To me a "rigorous" physical definition is an operational definition -- that is one in which ...
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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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1answer
483 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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3answers
800 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
958 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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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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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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2answers
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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
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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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280 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 ...
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314 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
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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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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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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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2answers
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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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399 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
465 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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1answer
68 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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Difference between two types of pressure

When I first studied thermodynamics the concept of pressure was defined by means of the fundamental relation $S = S(U,V,N)$ for simple systems. The pressure was thus defined by $$P = ...
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420 views

Can pressure exist without a container?

I always hear pressure defined as the force exerted by particles on the walls of the container they're being held in. This makes sense since the mathematical definition of pressure is $ p = ...
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1answer
463 views

Equivalent definitions of vectors

Equivalent definitions of vectors. In maths a vector is an object that obeys some axioms of a vector space. But in physics a vector can be thought as an object which is invariant under rotations of ...
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1answer
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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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Definition of Duality (opposed to Symmetry)

I'm learning basic string theory right now and we came across T-duality which was presented as a symmetry of the formula for the mass of a string in the context of compactification. There was a remark ...
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170 views

Need help on electric potential definition

I'm having trouble understanding electric potential. In my book it says "an electric force acts on a charge situated in an electric field." I understand this part. Then it goes on to say "If a charge ...
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2answers
37 views

Does a central force have to be independent of angle?

When defining a central force, some sources, like Wikipedia, say that the magnitude of the force only depends on the distance $r$: In classical mechanics, a central force on an object is a force ...
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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 ...
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257 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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368 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 ...