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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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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1answer
336 views

Are inductance and self-inductance synonyms?

Wikipedia mentions that the word self in the word "self-inductance" is to differentiate it from "mutual inductance". But it does not state whether the two things are the same thing. So do the both ...
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4answers
152 views

What exactly is work?

What exactly is work? My book confuses me: a force can lift an object to a height h, or it can accelerate an object through gravity. In all these cases, a force displaces an object and change the ...
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1answer
51 views

What exactly is conservative vector field?

I'm studying calculus, but since the example involved a physical concept. I will ask here: This is how it goes: This means that in a conservative force field, the amount of work required to ...
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1answer
41 views

How can I physically demonstrate potential difference in a circuit to a 14 year old?

Children of this age have a fair idea about current, resistance, and batteries. Potential difference is a thing that cannot be felt or physically visualized. A teenager asked me if he can touch ...
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3answers
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What is basically the difference between static pressure and dynamic pressure?

What is basically the difference between static pressure and dynamic pressure? While studying Bernoulli's theorem, I came before these terms. The law says: When the fluid flows through a small ...
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2answers
428 views

Understanding relationship between work and energy

I've read over 10 books about work and energy, and I just simply can't understand it. First of all, they go ahead and randomly define that work is force times distance: $$W=F X \cos\theta$$ Okay, ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
87 views

Transpose of (1,1) tensor

When we transpose a (1,1) tensor, shall we simply switch the two indices while keeping their upper/lower positions or switch them and also switch their upper/lower positions? In general, would the ...
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3answers
184 views

What is a photon? [duplicate]

I'm trying to get a definitive and clear answer to the question of what a photon actually is. Textbooks seem to give quite vague explanations, all starting with Einstein's idea that a quanta is a form ...
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2answers
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What does it mean to be stationary?

I'm looking for a simple answer. What do we regard a stationary. Do we mean an object that is not moving noticeable from the viewers perspective because then a parked car would be considered ...
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2answers
577 views

Electrostatic Potential Definition

In the book, Introduction to electrodynamics by David J. Griffiths, he introduces potential separately as a function and potential energy through that function. How can potential be defined before ...
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2answers
15k 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 ...
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1answer
178 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 ...
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1answer
609 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 ...
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1answer
19 views

Definition of a Supercluster

A group of astronomers in September 2014 redefined what classifies a supercluster. Before this, the supercluster where the Milky Way resides was the Virgo Supercluster. Now, the Virgo Supercluster ...
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0answers
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What is the definition of time? [duplicate]

I wanted to know the definition of time just like as we define displacement, current etc. **Note:**There should be no mention of time period or time interval in the definition.
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0answers
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What is the difference between the groups $PSU(N)$ and $SU(N)$? [closed]

What is the difference between the groups $PSU(N)$ and $SU(N)$? For example how is $PSU(2,2|4)$ different than $SU(2,2|4)$?
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Regular initial data

I have a very basic question. What exactly is meant by "regular" initial data in general relativity? Does it mean smooth? at least $C^{2}$? All literature on the subject just uses this term without ...
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0answers
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Holonomy twisting

There is Witten's topological twist of standard SUSY QFTs with enough SUSY into Witten-type TQFTs. What is a holonomy twist?
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2answers
100 views

Why can't we precisely define physics? [closed]

While reading a textbook, I came across this statement: "A precise definition of physics is neither possible nor necessary." I was curious why it is not possible but the textbook never ...
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2answers
104 views

Good layman definition of the critical point(phases) and supercriticality

I've heard of this point among others, but never really got what it meant. Wikipedia makes one's head spin. The only thing I picked up is that it occurs between liquid and gas, and displays ...
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3answers
255 views

What is actually a conservation law?

Though in his lectures, Feynman didn't define conservation law, he did use it while explaining divergence theorem: [...] heat is conserved. That is, no heat is generated inside the material and ...
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1answer
3k views

Derivation of formula of potential energy by a conservative force [duplicate]

the formula for potential energy by a conservative force is given by: $$ F = -\nabla U(r), $$ which in one dimension may be simplified to: $$ F = -\frac{dU}{dx} .$$ My question is how is it ...
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1answer
268 views

How to know if something is a primitive concept, a law, a definition or a theorem

Some basic Physics books are often misguiding in the sense that they don't make clear whether something is a primitive concept, a law, a definition or a theorem. This is often a little confusing. I've ...
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1answer
304 views

Mathematical definition of Bogomol'nyi–Prasad–Sommerfield (BPS) states

What is the mathematical definition of Bogomol'nyi–Prasad–Sommerfield (BPS) states, independent of any specific physical theory.
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3answers
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What is “first order“ and “second order” in time?

What is the meaning of the text quoted below? In the physical world, if a system is described by an equation that is first order in time, the system is general dissipative (has energy loss). ...
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2answers
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Definition of Static Electricity

The result of an imbalance of electrons between objects is called static electricity. It is called "static" because the displaced electrons tend to remain stationary after being moved from one ...
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1answer
429 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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2answers
317 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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1answer
317 views

What is the fundamental differences between bound and entangled states

Specifically, are all entangled states considered bound?
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1answer
40 views

What is “forward peaking”?

In "Research and Development for a Gadolinium Doped Water Cherenkov Detector" the phrase "forward peaking" is used to describe a signal. This comes up in lots of other contexts too, but I still can't ...
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2answers
298 views

Extensive variables in thermodynamics

Extensive variables in thermodynamics are those which scale linearly with the system size. It is known that a ratio of two extensive variables is an intensive variable. Now, the number of particles ...
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1answer
72 views

How can we define the energy stored in a (conservative) force field?

I have come to know from my textbook that energy is stored in the E-field of a capacitor, in the B-field of an inductor and so on. Take the example of an inductor. The derivation bewilders me ...
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2answers
94 views

Speed of light and distance

Our measure of distance (the meter) is defined in terms of how far light in a vacuum travels in a specific time. When light travels through another medium, we say it travels at a different speed. Why ...
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1answer
172 views

What is the difference between a skew-symmetric and an antisymmetric tensor?

What is the difference between a skew-symmetric and an anti-symmetric tensor? If they represent the same tensor, then why use different labeling.
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2answers
303 views

Is there a definition of force? [duplicate]

Well, Newton's three laws talks about forces, but no definition is given. In truth, Newton's second law gives an idea of what total force is: the time change rate of momentum. But, if we have a force ...
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2answers
92 views

What is a geometrical object?

From the Wikipedia link for Geometry: Geometry (Ancient Greek: γεωμετρία; geo- "earth", -metron "measurement") is a branch of mathematics concerned with questions of shape, size, relative position ...
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1answer
641 views

What is a “lateral fringe displacement”?

I encountered the term "lateral fridge displacement" in my optics homework for a problem about inserting a thin plate of glass over one of Young's double splits. So what does "lateral fringe ...
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1answer
618 views

Difference between Poynting vector and energy flux density?

Are those two terms the same, or...? My book says that the Poynting vector is an energy flux density given by: $$\mathbf{S} = \frac{1}{\mu_{0}}(\mathbf{E} \times \mathbf{B})$$ So that alone should ...
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1answer
247 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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2answers
1k 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 ...
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1answer
300 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 ...
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3answers
87 views

Gravitational acceleration

'What is difference between free fall acceleration g and gravitational acceleration a?***a is with subscript g.In my textbook it is written that "free fall acceleration = gravitational acceleration - ...
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2answers
184 views

Susceptibilities and response functions

It is often confusing whether a susceptibility is the same as a response function, specially that often they are used interchangeably, in the context of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics. Very ...
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2answers
105 views

How this formula for work follows from the definition?

If a particle moves along a path $\gamma : I\subset \mathbb{R}\to \mathbb{R}^3$ then the work done by a force $\mathbf{F}$ is defined by $$W = \int_{\gamma} \mathbf{F} = ...
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3answers
228 views

Definition of a normal mode?

What is the formal definition of a normal mode for a string? And how does this relate to the definition from e.g. wiki that seem to be applied to discrete systmes of particles only? Also on a string ...
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2answers
106 views

Mathematical Definition of Locality

What is the mathematically precise definition of principle of locality in physics for a continuous space-time in the sense that an object is only directly influenced by its immediate surroundings?
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3answers
1k views

Direction of motion

What does the term direction of motion actually mean? Is it a direction where a particle is moving or the direction of its velocity? For example, what is the direction of motion of a projectile in ...
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1answer
131 views

A physical sense of an Inertial frame

Definition clarification needed, please: I am hoping to get physical sense of an "inertial frame". Do inertial reference frames all have zero curvature for their spacetime? So is an inertial frame ...