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
36 views

Mathematical misunderstanding of Work-Potential Energy Theorem?

This is a relatively basic question, but I don't understand why it is the case. This is from my dynamics book and is mainly a mathematical misunderstanding. $$ \ dU = F\cos\theta ds $$ Which means ...
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0answers
24 views

How is the octane percentage defined? [migrated]

Normally octane percentage is mentioned on petrol (95% octane). How is this defined? Is it percentage of chemical or some other parameters?
4
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3answers
264 views

Existence of negative temperatures and the definition of entropy

How negative temperatures can be possible has been treated on StackExchange before (several times in fact), but in light of some recent academic discussion, most of these answers seem to be possibly ...
4
votes
1answer
39 views

Definition of the quality $(Q)$ factor?

According to Wikipedia, the Q factor is defined as: $$Q=2\pi\frac{\mathrm{energy \, \, stored}}{\mathrm{energy \, \,dissipated \, \, per \, \, cycle}}$$ Here are my questions: Does the energy ...
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1answer
38 views

Defintion of temperature without thermal equilibrium condition

Is temperature only defined in thermal equilibrium? Then how can we explain heat flow by temperature differences?
0
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1answer
45 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: 1. is the state ...
5
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8answers
547 views

Energy and work

I don't quite understand the concept of energy and work. We can define energy as the ability to do work. An object moving at constant speed has kinetic energy. Does the object have the ability to do ...
0
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1answer
48 views

Definition of “destructive” interference of waves

What is the commonly accepted precise definition of "destructive" interference of waves. Does it mean: interference with complete cancellation or interference where the amplitude gets smaller ...
24
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4answers
2k views

The physical definition of work seems paradoxical

So this is possibly a misunderstanding of the meaning of work, but all the Physics texts, sites, and wiki that I've read don't clear this up for me: In the simplest case with the simplest statement, ...
0
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1answer
30 views

What does it mean by coherence between waves?

I know by definition, coherence is pair of waves that have constant phase difference. What does this mean? Does it mean they are always have a 360 degrees, or 0 degrees phase difference? Or could they ...
3
votes
1answer
164 views

Definition of mean free time in the Drude model

In the Drude model they derive a formule for the conductivity of a conductor. I wonder though how the main free time $\tau$ is defined in this formula. Wikipedia says that it is "the average time ...
7
votes
3answers
250 views

How was the definition and the formula of work derived? Is it the best possible?

Work done is defined as the dot product of force and displacement. However, intuitively, should it not be the product of force and the time for which the body is acted upon by the force (force * ...
0
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0answers
30 views

The relationship between the two statistical mechanical definitions of entropy

It seems like similar questions have been asked here; hopefully my question is not a duplicate. I am reading my textbook on the statistical mechanical definitions of entropy, and I am very confused ...
2
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1answer
1k views

How is Mechanical advantage of 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, articles quote ...
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2answers
71 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?
4
votes
4answers
586 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 ...
0
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2answers
71 views

How many psi's are in one bar?

6894.7573 bar = 100000.0 psi according to google 6894.7573 bar = 100000.0001 psi according to wolfram alpha which is it? How many psis are in one ...
0
votes
2answers
69 views

Definition of torque for a continuous body

I am working on basic physics definitions. Given a particle at position $r$ (in some coorinate reference system) upon which acts a force $F$, the $torque$ $\tau$ is defined by \begin{equation} ...
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1answer
24 views

What does degrees of freedom mean in the context of vibrations?

If you have an $N$ degrees of freedom system what does this mean? What is the difference between a 1 and a 2 degrees of freedom system?
3
votes
1answer
65 views

Line integral definition of work clarification

So I am kind of confused about the role of force when calculating work. Specifically, when defining work using a line integral. There is a paragraph in my calculus book that is really throwing me off ...
4
votes
1answer
308 views

Hamiltonians, density of state, BECs

When working with Bose-Einstein condensates trapped in potentials, how can one tell what the density of state of a system of identical bosons given the Hamiltonian, $H$? (I have been told that it is ...
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2answers
74 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?
7
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4answers
403 views

Is there a fundamental reason not to define the work vice-versa

My question arises from something which has never been really clear: in continuum mechanics, why is strain energy defined as: $$W=\int_\Omega ...
8
votes
7answers
11k views

What do people actually mean by “rolling without slipping”?

I have never understood what's the meaning of the sentence "rolling without slipping". Let me explain. I'll give an example. Yesterday my mechanics professor introduced some concepts of rotational ...
5
votes
4answers
128 views

Definition of Entropy in thermodynamics

In most textbooks, the definition of entropy in reversible processes on a system $S$ is given simply as $$d S=\delta Q/T.$$ It seems to me this definition is insufficient since it does not specify ...
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5answers
321 views

Are events in this experiment simultaneous if observed in platform's frame?

In some contexts e.g. on Wikipedia it is defined as a matter of happening . In others(e.g. as defined by Einstein in his book "Relativity the special and general theory") it is defined as a matter of ...
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2answers
30 views

What is the difference between the actual distance covered by a projected object and the displacement?

What is the difference between the actual distance covered by a projected object and the displacement? A stone was projected with an angle of projection of 30 and it covered a horizontal distance ...
1
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1answer
48 views

Defining creation and annihilation operators

Creation and annihilation operators can be defined in several different ways, some more general than others. We usually choose to denote by $a$ the annihilation operator and by $a^\dagger$ the ...
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3answers
90 views

What is the physical meaning of electric potential, potential difference, and voltage?

When resembling the electricity flow through a wire to people walking through a street: electrons are people, current is the number of people, resistance is the barriers on the way. But what is the ...
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1answer
45 views

Angular displacement after full rotation

I was wondering is why angular displacement isn't $0$ after $n$ full rotations?
4
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3answers
919 views

Why does Law of Large Numbers work?

Often I see books and professors reasoning that, in order to make a good experiment, many measurements are necessary because then the average value of a quantity is closer to the expected value ...
1
vote
1answer
40 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 $\vec{L}$ ...
0
votes
1answer
51 views

It seems wrong to find the mass using weight alone when using chemical compounds [duplicate]

The difference between mass and weight is pretty straightforward so then how can we WEIGH a substance then ask how many Daltons (atomic MASS units) are in that substance without a conversion in there ...
26
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4answers
6k views

Are matrices and second rank tensors the same thing?

Tensors are mathematical objects that are needed in physics to define certain quantities. I have a couple of questions regarding them that need to be clarified: Are matrices and second rank tensors ...
5
votes
2answers
178 views

What Exactly is a Shock Wave?

The Wikipedia defintion of a shock wave pretty much sums up all I've found online about what a shock wave is: A shock wave is a type of propagating disturbance. Like an ordinary wave, it carries ...
6
votes
9answers
2k views

What is entropy really?

On this site, change in entropy is defined as the amount of energy dispersed divided by the absolute temperature. But I want to know: What is the definition of entropy? Here, entropy is defined as ...
0
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1answer
59 views

What is a conservative force?

Currently I have three different pictures to describe/understand conservative forces. For the moment I just want to get an electron from point A to point B. In the near surrounding is another electron ...
6
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3answers
179 views

Is a “shift in the meaning” of Accuracy and Precision occurring?

Accuracy and precision are among the most fundamental concepts in experimental physics, and, I always believed, completely unambiguous. Recently I found that the Wikipedia article on Accuracy and ...
7
votes
2answers
396 views

Why is the absolute zero a rational number in Celcius?

From the question "Why is the absolute zero -273.15ºC?" I understood that 1°C is the 100th part of the difference of melting and boiling temperature of water (this is my high school physics, ...
2
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0answers
74 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
61 views

Definition of a field line?

Ok so I finished by A-levels last year (english exams 18 year olds take) and we defined in my physics course we defined field lines (for an electric field) as: The path a free positive test charge ...
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vote
1answer
513 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
311 views

Axioms behind entropy!

The concept of entropy is very ubiquitous, we learn about its uses starting from Information Theory (Shannon entropy) up to its basic definition in statistical mechanics in terms of number of ...
2
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3answers
191 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 ...
17
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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?
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2answers
82 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
786 views

Distinguish between instantaneous speed and instantaneous velocity

I encountered a line in my text book of physics that: Average speed over a finite interval of time is greater or equal to the magnitude of the average velocity. But instantaneous speed at an ...
11
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4answers
632 views

A common definition of a scalar

Some dictionaries define a scalar as follows: A quantity, such as mass, length, or speed, that is completely specified by its magnitude and has no direction. -- The Free Dictionary However, it ...
6
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2answers
917 views

In layman's terms, what is a quantum fluctuation?

What causes it and how does it occur? If you do post some mathematics, please explain what each term means too please.
0
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1answer
35 views

Variable definition in wave function for scattering particle?

For the wave function of a scattered particle when finding the scattering aptitude we have: $$\psi(r)=Ae^{ik_0∙r}+\frac{2\mu}{\hbar^2} ∫G(r-r')V(r')\psi(r')d^3r'$$ I was wondering what the variables ...