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

5
votes
8answers
7k views

Definition of “direction”

Is there an actual definition of "direction" (that is, spatial direction) in physics, or is it just one of those terms that's left undefined? In physics textbooks it's always just taken for granted ...
-1
votes
1answer
135 views

Poles, wavefunctions, transmission

Why is it said that $\operatorname{sech}x$ (a transmission amplitude) has a simple pole on the imaginary axis?
1
vote
1answer
280 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.
3
votes
3answers
156 views

Name for celestial “Prime Meridian”?

Is there name for the line that goes from celestial pole to pole at RA 0 degrees 0 minutes 0 seconds? On Earth we would call it the Prime Meridian. Is it called the "Celestial Meridian"?
1
vote
2answers
13k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
123 views

What distinguishes a moon from orbiting space debris? Or in other words, when is a satellite “too small” to be a moon?

The Wikipedia article on Natural Satellites doesn't really give an adequate distinction as to what distinguishes a moon from other orbiting bodies. What I am looking for is a classification that ...
5
votes
3answers
544 views

Can temperature be defined as propensity to transmit thermal energy?

I was recently surprised to learn that defining temperature isn't easy. For a long time, it was defined operationally: how much does a thermometer expand. Also surprising, temperature isn't a ...
4
votes
1answer
61 views

Vesta dwarf planet status

Now that we have close-up photos of Vesta, which the IAU had previously said was a candidate dwarf planet, when is the IAU going to decide the issue? Personally, Vesta doesn't look round enough to me. ...
2
votes
1answer
264 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
683 views

Two planets in same orbit - not planets?

Let us pretend for a moment that there are two identical planets that are exactly opposite their star from each other and are the same distance from said star. (This would make them, at all times, ...
11
votes
5answers
8k views

What is an asterism compared to a constellation?

I'm doing an astronomy exam tomorrow and in the practice paper it asks for the difference between constellation and asterism. It seems asterism is a group of recognizable stars; however I thought that ...
12
votes
7answers
2k views

What is the current status of Pluto?

Pluto has been designated a planet in our solar system for years (ever since it was discovered in the last century), but a couple of years ago it was demoted. What caused this decision? And is there ...
2
votes
1answer
316 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
529 views

What exactly is $F$ in $W = \int_{a}^{b} F dx$?

I am trying to teach myself some basic physics, here is something I do not really understand about the definition of work: When moving from $a$ to $b$ (in one dimension), the work done is defined to ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

what is meant by “crossover phenomena”?

In many articles I read the term "crossover phenomena" and a lot of methodology discussed according to it, with little or no description about what is meant by it. Sometimes there is a connection to ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the definition of how to count degrees of freedom?

This question resulted, rather as by-product, the discussion on how to count degrees of freedom (DOF). I extend that question here: Are necessary1 derivatives such as velocities counted as ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Definitions and usage of Covariant, Form-invariant, Invariant?

Just wondering about the definitions and usage of these three terms. To my understanding so far, "covariant" and "form-invariant" are used when referring to physical laws, and these words are ...
8
votes
6answers
10k views

Simple explanation of quantum mechanics

Can you please describe quantum mechanics in simple words? When ever I read this word (quantum computers, quantum mechanics, quantum physics, quantum gravity etc) I feel like fantasy, myth and ...
-1
votes
3answers
382 views

Are we crystals?

Can we say that we are crystals because just like crystals we are made up of very small unit (cell) making up almost the same shape (our body) everywhere.
18
votes
5answers
4k views

What does it mean for a Hamiltonian or system to be gapped or gapless?

I've read some papers recently that talk about gapped Hamiltonians or gapless systems, but what does it mean? Edit: Is an XX spin chain in a magnetic field gapped? Why or why not?
2
votes
3answers
828 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
563 views

Potential functions

Can someone please explain what a potential is? Example. velocity potential in ideal flows, acoustic potential (gradient of which gives the particle velocity in a sound wave). Whenever I see potential ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are quark types known as flavors?

There are six types of quarks, known as flavors. Why where these types called flavors? Why do the flavors have such odd names (up, down, charm, strange, top, and bottom)?
13
votes
7answers
3k views

What is a general definition of impedance?

Impedance is a concept that shows up in any area of physics concerning waves. In transmission lines, impedance is the ratio of voltage to current. In optics, index of refraction plays a role similar ...
9
votes
4answers
12k views

What is sound and how is it produced?

I've been using the term "sound" all my life, but I really have no clue as to what sound exactly is or how it is created. What is sound? How is it produced? Can it be measured?