The definition tag is used in situations where the question is either about how some term or concept is defined 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

3
votes
0answers
102 views

What are Killing spinors?

What are Killing spinors? How can they be motivated? Are they directly related to Killing vectors and Killing tensors and is there an overarching motivation for all three objects? Any answer is ...
3
votes
0answers
36 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Non-linear dynamics vs Chaos

I am confusing between non linear dynamics and chaos. Chaos is also a non-linear dynamics right? then what is the difference between chaos and non-linear dynamics? What I understood about chaos is ...
2
votes
4answers
11k views

Differences between wavefunction, probability and probability density?

I am trying to understand the differences between wavefunction, probability and probability density. There are different definitions on the internet. For example: http://inside.mines.edu/~fsarazin/...
2
votes
3answers
24k views

What is the difference between angular speed and tangential speed in a circular motion?

I was looking a long time for the way the equations of this two speeds are obtained, and i found pretty much nothing important, so can someone explain how are those obtained, and which is the ...
2
votes
3answers
125 views

Why does Griffiths define the complex inner product differently? [closed]

I have just now noticed that Griffiths (in his book Introduction to Quantum Mechanics) defines the complex inner product as $\big<z,w\big>=\sum_{i=1}^n\overline{z}_iw_i$. In all mathematics ...
2
votes
4answers
1k 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 reason?...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the definition of physically meaningful?

I asked a question recently where I wanted to know whether it was physically meaningful to talk about the arrow of time in other universes. Although many people apparently have an intuitive notion of ...
2
votes
4answers
115 views

Does the definition of escape velocity apply strictly to an initial velocity of a ballistic projectile?

In Shivam Sarodia's answer to Escape Velocity question he states: "For a rocket launched exactly at escape velocity" This seems to be a repeated, and unclear way of discussing the matter of escape ...
2
votes
2answers
419 views

What are global and local gauge invariance defined as they are?

I'm sorry for the triviality of my questions. Why is $\bar{\psi} = e^{i \theta}\bar{\psi}$, where $\theta$ is a real number, used as the global gauge transformation? Why $e^{i \theta}$; what's the ...
2
votes
1answer
656 views

What examples are there of fuzzy concepts in astronomy?

What examples are there of fuzzy concepts in astronomy? In particular, how fuzzy are the boundaries between different types of stars? As an example of a fuzzy concept I'm thinking of the planet/brown ...
2
votes
1answer
194 views

What type of mathematical structure is a physicist's definition of a vector space?

A vector space as defined by a mathematician lacks the invariant scalar product that lies at the heart of what I would define as a physicist's definition of a vector space that models the physical ...
2
votes
1answer
183 views

representation of conformal group in d>2

In P. Di Francesco, P. Mathieu, D. Snchal they fix the generators of the conformal group acting on a scalar field by somewhat arbitrarily defining $$\Phi'(x)=\Phi(x)-i\omega_a G_a\Phi(x)$$ and by ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the difference between Feshbach resonance and Fano resonance?

What is the interpretation of "resonance" in Feshbach resonance and Fano resonance? What is the difference of Feshbach resonance and Fano resonance?
2
votes
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
123 views

What is an “equation of motion” as used in context of geodesic equation?

I am studying general relativity and using the book Gravity by James Hartle. On page 170, he provides the following table: I don't understand what he means by "equation of motion" nor do I ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Potential energy graphs of chemical systems

I really wish someone could dissect this for me in the language of physics. The system is that of two atoms that approximate each other along 'r' (or distance themselves apart). My concerns are ...
2
votes
2answers
420 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
303 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. ...
2
votes
2answers
105 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?
2
votes
3answers
698 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
993 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
117 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
votes
1answer
255 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?
2
votes
2answers
60 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
780 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

Does a force do work on an object with constant velocity?

I know that a force does no work on an object if the object's displacement is zero, but if an object is moving at a constant velocity $\bar{v}$, and a force $\bar f$ (let's say that $\bar f$ and $\bar ...
2
votes
2answers
9k 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
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
2
votes
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
360 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
58 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
votes
1answer
66 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 '...
2
votes
3answers
17k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
90 views

Question about inertial mass and gravitational mass

I know that inertial mass $m_i$ is the quantity that appears in Newton's second law: $F=m_ia$ and that gravitational mass $m_{g_1}$ is the quantity that appears in Newton's gravitational law: $F_g=Gm_{...
2
votes
1answer
53 views

Why does this formula for the partition function not include the multiplicity?

I am having problems understanding the formulas used for describing the partition functions and the probability distributions for canonical ensembles. In the first case I have two formulas for the ...
2
votes
2answers
78 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
votes
5answers
271 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
153 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
235 views

What is many-body bound state?

Bound state by definition is a state when particles are bounded together, so then "many-body bound state" would be bound state for a system of many bodies. Then I have several puzzles: is the state ...
2
votes
2answers
6k 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
votes
2answers
868 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
votes
2answers
18k 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
214 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
votes
1answer
783 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
votes
1answer
121 views

What is the difference between thermodynamic and empirical temperature?

When I've studied Thermodynamics I did so in Callen's book and there the author talks about temperature as a single thing, which mathematically is simply defined as: $$T = \dfrac{\partial U}{\partial ...
2
votes
1answer
34 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 &...
2
votes
0answers
41 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.
2
votes
0answers
162 views

How is Infinitesimal coordinate transformation related to Lie derivatives?

I am reading the book "Gravitaion and Cosmology" by S. Weinberg. In section 10.9, while discussing Lie derivatives of tensors of different ranks, he makes a general comment: The effect of an ...