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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

9
votes
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
187 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
380 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
146 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
898 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
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 ...
1
vote
2answers
269 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 ...
1
vote
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
890 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
676 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
243 views

What is the fundamental differences between bound and entangled states

Specifically, are all entangled states considered bound?
2
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
583 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 ...
14
votes
6answers
2k 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
votes
2answers
181 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
vote
1answer
114 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
261 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
votes
2answers
773 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
12k 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 ...
2
votes
6answers
7k 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
votes
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
307 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
195 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
votes
3answers
933 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.
2
votes
2answers
11k views

What is the exact definition of center of gravity?

I've come across many definitions. Is it 1) The point from which the weight of the body acts, i.e., the point at which if the entire mass of the body is assumed to be concentrated, the gravitational ...
2
votes
1answer
151 views

nature of glass transition

I am reading in some book: "The glass transition is similar in appearance to a second-order phase transition, but it is not a true thermodynamic phase transition. This is because the transition ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What is a non linear $\sigma$ model?

What exactly is a non linear $\sigma$ model? In many books one can view many different types of non linear $\sigma$ models but I don't understand what is the link between all of them and why it is ...
0
votes
1answer
597 views

Wave packets v.s. wave trains

Could someone please explain the difference between a wave packet and a wave train? I have rummaged around online but have not been able to find a definitive definition.
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Definition of Free Electrons and Mobile Charges?

Could someone please give me a good definition of the following electric terms? Despite what searching I have done, I have not come across a definition that I have found clear for me to understand: ...
13
votes
1answer
868 views

What is a general definition of the spin of a particle?

In quantum field theory, one defines a particle as a unitary irreducible representations of the Poincaré group. The study of these representations allows to define the mass and the spin of the ...
1
vote
1answer
507 views

Common Variables in Quantum Mechanics

I am an eighth grader (please remember this!!!) in need of some guidance in my school project on Quantum Mechanics, Theory, and Logic. I am attempting the create a graph of the Schrödinger Equation ...
1
vote
2answers
847 views

Does a cycle (in Simple Harmonic Motion) have to equal 2π?

So, I search for the definition of cycle and I get this in Wikipedia: A turn is a unit of angle measurement equal to 360° or 2π radians (or ...). A turn is also referred to as a revolution or ...
2
votes
2answers
71 views

How to properly read a measurement result if it is a number?

If the result of a measurement is i.e. $3.2 \pm 0.7$, what is 0.7? At which confidence level we know that the real result is inside of this interval?
0
votes
1answer
373 views

Energy versus free-energy diagram

Energy versus free energy diagram. I haven't been able to find an adequate definition of these two terms in relation to each other. Could someone point me in the right direction, please? From Borrell ...
3
votes
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" ...
3
votes
1answer
402 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
462 views

Strict general mathematical definition of drag

Is there a formal definition of drag, say, as some surface integral of normal and shear forces? There seem to be a lot of formulas for specific cases, but is there a general one? I need to accurately ...
2
votes
3answers
467 views

What does physics study? [closed]

Wikipedia definition: Physics (from Ancient Greek: φύσις physis "nature") is a natural science that involves the study of matter[1] and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such ...
4
votes
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" ...
3
votes
1answer
504 views

What are Low-lying energy levels?

I am reading about some canonical transformations of the Hamiltonian (of a system consisting of an electron interacting with an ionic lattice) due to Tomanaga and Lee, Low and Pines. One of the ...
3
votes
1answer
211 views

What's a pseudo-rotation?

I'm sorry for this lexical, probably extremely elementary, question. But what is a pseudo-rotation? I just read this term for the first time, in the beginning of the 4th chapter book of CFT by Di ...
22
votes
1answer
3k views

Differentiating Propagator, Greens function, Correlation function, etc

For the following quantities respectively, could someone write down the common definitions, their meaning, the field of study in which one would typically find these under their actual name, and most ...
4
votes
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 ...
26
votes
4answers
6k views

Are matrices and second rank tensors the same thing?

Tensors are mathematical objects that are needed in physics to define certain quantities. I have a couple of questions regarding them that need to be clarified: Are matrices and second rank tensors ...
3
votes
3answers
787 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} ...
4
votes
4answers
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
117 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
30 views

Is renormalization associated with a volume scale or with an energy-momentum and length scale?

Given that real-space renormalization blocks together small volume elements to construct larger volume elements, is it more appropriate/helpful to consider the renormalization scale to be a volume ...
12
votes
2answers
12k views

Is the moon a planet?

Can our moon qualify as a planet? With regard or without regard to the exact definition of the planet, can the moon be considered as planet as Mercury, Venus and Earth etc. not as the satellite of the ...
6
votes
2answers
933 views

In layman's terms, what is a quantum fluctuation?

What causes it and how does it occur? If you do post some mathematics, please explain what each term means too please.