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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1answer
90 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 ...
4
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1answer
105 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
206 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 ...
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1answer
240 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
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1answer
329 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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0answers
419 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?
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1answer
169 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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0answers
84 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 ...
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3answers
254 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 ...
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4answers
40k 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
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2answers
327 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 ...
8
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1answer
482 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.
8
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1answer
405 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 ...
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2answers
143 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
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2answers
479 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
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2answers
971 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
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1answer
279 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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2answers
311 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 ...
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10answers
18k 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
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1answer
340 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
1k 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 ...
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1answer
1k 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 ...
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1answer
280 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 ...
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1answer
187 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 ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
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1answer
316 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 $$ ...
9
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1answer
3k 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 ...
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1answer
199 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
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1answer
393 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.
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1answer
156 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 ...
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2answers
975 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
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2answers
275 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
1k 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 ...
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3answers
950 views

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 ...
3
votes
3answers
728 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
270 views

What is the fundamental differences between bound and entangled states

Specifically, are all entangled states considered bound?
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3answers
2k views

What is the difference between a bounded orbit and a closed orbit?

Goldstein's Classical Mechanics has a puzzling few sentences in his discussion of orbits. Referring to the case of orbit where the energy is low enough for the orbit to be bounded, he says :"This ...
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3answers
706 views

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 ...
16
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7answers
3k views

What is a tensor?

I have a pretty good knowledge of physics but couldn't understand what a tensor is. I just couldn't understand it, and the wiki page is very hard to understand as well. Can someone refer me to a good ...
4
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2answers
195 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 ...
1
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1answer
115 views

Two definitions: 'semi-classical space-time' and 'supersymmetric Minkowski space'

By reading articles I ran several times into two terms, never being defined so I assume they must have well established definitions somewhere. The first is semi-classical space-time. If I where to ...
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3answers
265 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 ...
4
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2answers
840 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
14k views

Difference b/w Kinetics & Kinematics w/concrete example

(I know whether I understand this or not doesn't matter much to my work & study but am just curious.) I still can't differentiate in my head kinetics and kinematics (similar thread is found but ...
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6answers
8k views

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?
2
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2answers
3k views

What is displacement? Position relative to a reference point or change of position

What is the "official" or most useful definition of displacement in the context of kinematics? There are two common ones: Displacement is the length and direction of a line from a fixed reference ...
4
votes
2answers
310 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
224 views

Relative Change of Volume

Simple question, in materials publications I often see the relative change of volume in a system reported as $$ \Delta \left (V \right )/V $$ is the denominator volume supposed to be initial or the ...
5
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3answers
993 views

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.