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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2answers
354 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
4k 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 ...
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3answers
150 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
3k views

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
517 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
14k 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
174 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
582 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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0answers
56 views

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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0answers
44 views

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
122 views

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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4answers
311 views

Why is moment of inertia dependent on $r^2$ and not on $r$ ? (physical reason)

Moment of inertia is the mass equivalent in rotational dynamics. I know , by mathematical arguments, moment of inertia of a particle is $$ I = \text{mass} \cdot r^2$$ . But what is the physical ...
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2answers
96 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
89 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
240 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
2k 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
255 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
298 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
3k views

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
2k views

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
421 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
299 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
305 views

What is the fundamental differences between bound and entangled states

Specifically, are all entangled states considered bound?
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1answer
35 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
245 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
64 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
90 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
163 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
275 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
90 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
584 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
586 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
235 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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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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1answer
277 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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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: ...
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3answers
76 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
135 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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3answers
186 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
100 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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1answer
511 views

Definition respective derivation of angular momentum formula

I am reading An Introduction to Mechanics by Kleppner and Kolenkow (2014). On page 241 is the definition of the angular momentum: Here is the formal definition of the angular momentum $\vec{L}$ ...
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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
243 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 ...
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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
171 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
1k 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 ...
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1answer
33 views

What exactly is a one particle density?

In Density Functional Theory (DFT) we derive the Grand Potential as a functional of a so-called one particle density (OPD). I have trouble imagining what exactly that is. Could someone help me with ...
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2answers
75 views

Can pressure be negative? [duplicate]

From Wiki and from physics fundamentals lections I received info that pressure is scalar value. But in definition you have relation between projections of two vector values to normal axe-force and ...
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1answer
26 views

What is the definition of 'relative population' in context of partition function?

In statistical mechanics, what is the definition (or mathematical definition) when authors refer to relative population in the case of a classical particle system?