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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3answers
198 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 ...
4
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1answer
276 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 ...
0
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1answer
32 views

Difference between livetime, lifetime and time of life [on hold]

I always get a little bit confused with the meaning of these terms in Physics. As far as I think I know: livetime = effective data taking time of an experiment lifetime = duration of certain process ...
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3answers
38 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
72 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 ...
17
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5answers
3k 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
71 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
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1answer
407 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 ...
6
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8answers
1k 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 ...
11
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4answers
618 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 ...
5
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2answers
826 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.
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1answer
26 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 ...
4
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3answers
665 views

Definition of a year

Is there an acceptable definition of a year (in number of days)? Google Calculator: https://www.google.com/search?q=seconds+in+1+year returns 3.15569e7 seconds and then ...
2
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1answer
831 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 ...
2
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2answers
66 views

Can we correctly define momentum operator only by means of position operator and their commutation relation?

In "J.M. Ziman. Electrons and Phonons: The Theory of Transport Phenomena in Solids" the author formally introduces the position (displacement) operator and then defines the momentum operator with the ...
3
votes
2answers
77 views

Work done definition

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 * time) ...
12
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3answers
1k views

Why are they called “cyclic” coordinates?

In Lagrangian formalism, when $\frac{\partial L}{\partial q} = 0$, the coordinate $q$ is called cyclic and a corresponding conserved quantity exists. But why is it called cyclic?
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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, ...
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 ...
12
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6answers
2k views

What is a tensor?

I have a pretty good knowledge of physics but couldn't understand what a tensor is. I just couldn't understand it, and the wiki page is very hard to understand as well. Can someone refer me to a good ...
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3answers
78 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: ...
7
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2answers
95 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 ...
3
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3answers
187 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
165 views

What's the most fundamental definition of temperature?

What's the most fundamental definition of temperature? Is it the definition concern about average energy, number of micro states, or what? By "fundamental", I mean "to be applied" in such general ...
7
votes
2answers
356 views

Why is the absolute zero a rational number in Celcius?

From the question "Why is the absolute zero -273.15?" 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, maybe there ...
4
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3answers
479 views

Why is the absolute zero -273.15ºC?

I can't find an answer of why the lowest temperature is -273.15ºC. Is it deduced theoretically or is it experimental? An explanation is that when any gas volume tends to zero, the temperature will be ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

273 + degree Celsius = Kelvin. Why 273?

Temperature conversion: 273 + degree Celsius = Kelvin Actually why is that 273? How does one come up with this? My teacher mentioned Gann's law (not sure if this is the one) but I couldn't find ...
9
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3answers
310 views

What does Feynman mean when he says that $F=ma$ is not exact?

Chapter 12-2 in Feynman Lectures Vol. 1 states: In fact the law, $F=ma$ is not exactly true; if it were a definition we should have to say that it is always true; but it is not ... First, ...
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4answers
422 views

On the definition of work

Work is defined as $$W = \vec{F}\cdot\vec{s}$$ But what what exactly is $\vec{s}$? Is it the displacement of the body on which the force is being applied? Or is it the displacement of the point of ...
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5answers
261 views

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

In some contexts e.g. on wiki 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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1answer
112 views

Two definitions: 'semi-classical space-time' and 'supersymmetric Minkowski space'

By reading articles I ran several times into two terms, never being defined so I assume they must have well established definitions somewhere. The first is semi-classical space-time. If I where to ...
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1answer
93 views

Determination of displacement value in work formula

A net force will always create displacement which approaches infinity if left undisturbed. So how to fix a value of displacement in work formula? Isn't a mention time interval necessary? Or do we ...
2
votes
2answers
75 views

Meaning of “Grounded”

In my opinion, "grounded" means having the same potential as the potential at infinity, which is usually set to zero. Now if we consider a conductor inside a uniform electric field, what is the ...
2
votes
1answer
126 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 ...
11
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4answers
1k views

Why is the space-time interval squared?

The space-time interval equation is this: $$\Delta s^2=\Delta x^2+\Delta y^2+\Delta z^2-(c\Delta t)^2$$ Where, $\Delta x, \Delta y, \Delta z$ and $\Delta t$ represent the distances along various ...
8
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2answers
253 views

How come the universe is made of matter and not antimatter?

Antimatter is like matter on opposite day: it has the same properties as the stuff that makes up planets, stars and galaxies, but one vital piece is different—its charge. The universe supposedly ...
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0answers
51 views

Should Brillouin zone be a continuous object rather than a discrete one in the thermodynamic limit?

For example, just consider a 1D atom chain with $N$ sites and lattice constant $a=2\pi$, under periodic boundary conditions, the crystal momentum reads as $k=\frac{n}{N}\frac{2\pi}{a}=\frac{n}{N}$, ...
5
votes
2answers
72 views

Number of supersymmetric charge and the meaning of $\cal N$

I have been thinking about the definition of the notation $\cal N$ and its relation to the number of supercharges in SUSY, but still feel a little confused. In dimension 2, we usually denote, for ...
3
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1answer
94 views

Zwiebach scalar product notation

I am currently working through Zwiebach's a First Course in String Theory. He seems to use dot-product notation interchangeably with the "down-up" notation. For example, on pg 176/section 9.1, he ...
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3answers
352 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
561 views

Difference between angular frequency and angular velocity?

What is the difference between angular frequency and angular velocity? I think one is used for SHM and the other for circular motion? Also can both be used for centreptal accelartion? I think angular ...
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3answers
4k views

What is the difference between stress and pressure?

What is the difference between stress and pressure? Are there any intuitive examples that explain the difference between the two? How about an example of when pressure and stress are not equal?
0
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1answer
87 views

The formula used to calculate electrical potential energy

Sorry for the ugly picture but it makes my question more understandable. The $\Delta V$ from $A$ to $B$ is calculated by$$\int_A^B E \, \mathrm{d}r$$ where $r$ is the distance between $A$ and $B$. ...
1
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1answer
42 views

What is the relationship between the verbal definition and the mathematical definition of some quantities?

I know this is probably an easy question, but it's been a while since I've studied physics and I've started reading some circuit analysis textbooks. I'm finding hard to understand the relationship ...
3
votes
2answers
489 views

What is charge actually? How to define it? [closed]

Is charge of something for (e.g.) an electron related to electromagnetic space if it exists due to energy, due to which it may have mass? I don't know about quantum mechanics or advanced particle ...
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1answer
53 views

What is Work? What does the quantity suggest intuitively? [duplicate]

The mathematical formula for work says that work is force into displacement, but what is the philosophy behind it? I mean what does the quantity suggest?
4
votes
3answers
219 views

What Does it Mean for an Extra Dimension to Have Size?

Recently I watched this presentation by Brian Greene on string theory. In it he describes how the reason we don't observe the extra dimensions required by string theory could be because they are very ...
3
votes
3answers
738 views

Angular Displacement

If something is rotating about a point and it covers a complete circle, should we take its angular displacement as 360 degree or 0? Please give link to some established material on this subject ...
1
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1answer
101 views

Second Rank Tensors [duplicate]

I'm a little confused, for the twentieth time, on what tensors are. I thought they were a generalization of matrices-but then they have special transformation rules. I'm looking for a concise ...
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2answers
7k 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 ...