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
263 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. ...
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3answers
3k 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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2answers
100 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?
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3answers
669 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 ...
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4answers
203 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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2answers
94 views

What are the “generations of matter”?

After a series of clicks on New Scientist and Wikipedia, I ended up on the Wiki article for "generations of matter", and I didn't quite understand it. I believe (and this may be wrong) that different ...
2
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1answer
171 views

What is the difference between the diffusion equation and the heat equation?

I know that the diffusion equation is a more general version of the heat equation. But what is the exact difference informally?
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2answers
55 views

Cosmology: what is a quantity that is called “$h$” in regard to angular size of a galaxy?

I am trying to solve a Cosmology problem, but a certain quantity $h$ appears in it, of which I do not know the definition (I have never seen it mentioned anywhere before). So I thought maybe someone ...
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2answers
593 views

Potential energy $= mgh$, what is $h$?

NOTE: when I say potential energy I mean gravitational PE The formula for potential energy is P.E = mgh. What is h referring to? Height, obviously. Consider the example: What is the potential ...
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2answers
8k views

Definition of Significant Figures

In my textbooks, significant figures are defined as: “Significant figures by definition are the reliable digits in a number that are known with certainty.” “A significant figure is the one ...
2
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1answer
834 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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3answers
2k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
346 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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2answers
51 views

I have trouble understanding work

I am just starting out in physics. I study in germany, so excuse me if I get some terms wrong. I am trying to understand why 'Work = Force * Way' and I think I just have some trouble imagining what ...
2
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1answer
62 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
58 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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2answers
539 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
9k views

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
6k 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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2answers
54 views

What is a qualitative description of energy? [duplicate]

In elementary physics courses one is taught that energy is a measure of an object's ability to do work (this in itself seems a little flaky as how does one then define exactly what "work" is, other ...
2
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1answer
117 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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2answers
5k 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 ...
2
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2answers
718 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 ...
2
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2answers
17k 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
205 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 ...
2
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1answer
723 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 ...
2
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1answer
27 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
39 views

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
71 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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1answer
3k views

Why is the mechanical advantage of a wedge = length of slope/ width?

Mechanical advantage is defined as Force Output/Force Input For a symmetrical wedge with the length of the slopes being equal and the width being the distance between the end points, the articles ...
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0answers
45 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
124 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
2k views

Newton's first law: is his concept of (force of ) inertia still useful and used?

The force of inertia is the property common to all bodies that remain in their state, either at rest or in motion, unless some external cause is introduced to make them alter this state. That ...
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3answers
19k views

Definition of electric charge and proper explanation

Is there a definition of electric charge and proper explanation of it? It is said "Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes it to experience a force when close to other ...
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2answers
89 views

What is the difference between toy models and normal models?

Here is the short description of scientific model: an imperfect or idealized representation of a physical system And the definition of toy model: a simplified set of objects and equations ...
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5answers
124 views

What is the definition of linear momentum?

Every where and book I search I get that the definition of linear momentum is the amount of speed (quantity of motion) contained in it or simply it is mass $\times$velocity? So, what is an ...
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2answers
126 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
140 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
320 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
4k 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
328 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
323 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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1answer
87 views

What defines a physical property? [closed]

The physical world around us has all sorts of properties, shape, color etc. If you move on to more complex systems, there are even more like some emotional properties etc. Why do we deem only ...
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3answers
62 views

What does “fidelity” mean?

In particular I am interested in whether it is more closely related to "precision" or "accuracy". So a somewhat mathematical description might be appropriate. For example the word "fidelity" occurs ...
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2answers
98 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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3answers
6k 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
3k 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
483 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
353 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
353 views

What is the fundamental differences between bound and entangled states

Specifically, are all entangled states considered bound?