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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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 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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574 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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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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406 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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512 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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193 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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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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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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139 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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322 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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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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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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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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752 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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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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What is the exact difference between diffusion, convection and advection?

I have tried to explore the information but still not very clear on the exact difference between diffusion, convection and advection. Can anyone help me out to clear my concept?
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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194 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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109 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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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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261 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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487 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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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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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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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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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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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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Intuition behind the formula for macroscopic entropy

Wikipedia says that the 'macroscopic' definition of entropy is: $$ \Delta S = \displaystyle \int \dfrac{dQ_{\rm rev}}{T}$$ Where $T$ is the uniform absolute temperature of a closed system and ...
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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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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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What distinguishes between physics and chemistry? [closed]

What are the major differences between physics and chemistry? I know that they both study atoms, electrons and molecules, but what makes some topics part of one and some part of another?
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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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373 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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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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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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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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Bounded operator - definition?

As mentioned also in Bounded and Unbounded Operator, an operator $A$ is said to be bounded, if $$\|Af\|\leq k \|f\|,$$ where the constant $k$ does not depend on the choice of $f$ (let us consider a ...
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774 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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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 ...