Use this for questions relating to the proper use of physics terminology or nomenclature.

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411 views

Are the intersections of past and future light cones spacelike?

Given a timelike reference worldline (not necessarily geodesic), we can define light-cone coordinates $\tau^+$ and $\tau^-$ so that the 3-D hypersurfaces of constant $\tau^+$ are past light cones of ...
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2answers
207 views

SI units with more than one prefix in fractions

Is it (in the view of SI) correct to note units with more then one prefix? I discuss this since several months with friends, but we could not find a proper source for our statements yet. Examples for ...
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1answer
71 views

Reason for the convention about polarization states

I'd like to know if there is a special reason for limiting convention of polarization state to waves that can be split in just two components of equal frequency.
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4answers
3k views

Long/short-range interaction

A potential of the form $r^{-n}$ is often considered long-range, while one that decays exponentially is considered short-range. Is this characterization simply relative/conventional, or is there a ...
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1answer
215 views

What the name of the evacuated glass gadget with black and white vanes that turn when a light is applied?

I remember a glass device my physics teacher had at high school which Contained some vanes mounted somehow on a vertical axis, which were all black on one side and white on the other Was in a ...
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1answer
287 views

What is the name for the whistling “musical” sounds that change stepwise in pitch when a hollow tube is spun like a lasso?

You have likely heard those sounds, science museums sometimes sell Flexible plastic tubes you can whirl like a lasso. The air rushing by the end of the tube causes these sounds, which are admitted in ...
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3answers
488 views

Weightlessness by a parabolic flight

Do you actually achieve weightlessness during a parabolic flight? Because I believe I heard somewhere did you achieve 'near-weightlessness' and not 'weightlessness' (if this is true, why is this?) And,...
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2answers
1k views

What does “the ${\bf N}$ of a group” mean?

In the context of group theory (in my case, applications to physics), I frequently come across the phrase "the ${\bf N}$ of a group", for example "a ${\bf 24}$ of $SU(5)$" or "the ${\bf 1}$ of $SU(5)$"...
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3answers
413 views

Is it true that an isolated fundamental particle does not decay?

Is it true that an isolated fundamental/elementary particle does not decay? It seems logical to me.
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1answer
2k views

What came first, Rice Crispy or “Snap,” “Crackle,” and “Pop”? [closed]

The fourth, fifth, and sixth derivatives of position are called "Snap" "Crackle" and "Pop". What came first, the rice crispy characters, or the physics units?
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2answers
4k views

Differences between classical, analytical, rational and theoretical mechanics

Can you explain me what are the differences between the four following subjects? analytical mechanics rational mechanics classical mechanics theoretical mechanics
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1answer
101 views

Is “Egyptian Year” the same as a modern sidereal year?

Copernicus uses the term "Egyptian Year" throughout his discussions of the movements of the Earth, and of his and other models of the movements of the planets; but is unclear from his text, or from ...
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1answer
549 views

What's the common consensus on the meaning of “physical change”?

I'm doing a textbook problem that shows a "molecular level" view of some matter, little colored balls, before and after, and there are, among the four questions, two that say: 1) Did a physical change ...
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4answers
13k views

What is the difference between Raman scattering and fluorescence?

What is the difference between Raman scattering and fluorescence? Both phenomena involve the emission of photons shifted in frequency relative to the incident light, because of some energetic ...
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2answers
334 views

Is an electric lamp a transducer? [closed]

Silly thought. A transducer, by definition, is a device that converts variations in one form of energy to another. An electric lamp converts electricity into visible light - the brightness may vary ...
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1answer
583 views

What is the reference spectrum?

What is the reference spectrum? I need to know how to calculate the reference spectrum of a wavelength 500nm.
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1answer
589 views

What is the pause called at the apex of an object's trajectory?

My apologies for such a basic question--I am a musician, not a physicist. But I cannot anywhere find the word, if one exists, that describes that elegant pause of an object such as a ball, thrown ...
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3answers
3k views

What does the dual of a tensor mean (e.g. dual stress tensor in relativistic ED)?

I know what the dual of a vector means (as a map to its field), and I am also aware of of the definition a dual of a tensor as, $$F^{*ij} = \frac{1}{2} \epsilon^{ijkl} F_{kl}\tag{1}$$ I just don't ...
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3answers
1k views

What is the difference between manifest Lorentz invariance and canonical Lorentz invariance?

I often read that the Lorentz symmetry is manifest in the path integral formulation but is not in the canonical quantization - what does this really mean?
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1answer
2k views

Is there a difference between a postulate and a principle in physics?

Is there a difference between a postulate and a principle in physics? Both seem unproved statements taken as true. If thats correct, why the different names?
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2answers
2k views

What the difference between “orbital” and “orbit”?

What's the difference between "ortibal" and "orbit"? Which one should be used in physics? In quantum mechanics, is "atomic orbital" or "atomic orbit" used? And what about in classical mechanics? A ...
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1answer
162 views

Theorem or Conjecture? [closed]

I understand the definitions "theorem" and "conjecture" in mathematics, but I wasn't sure for physics. I mean, if it's proved mathematically, it's a theorem, otherwise it's a conjecture. But for ...
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1answer
410 views

What do I call the inverse of a propagator?

Let's suppose I have a theory described by a Lagrangian as follows: $ \mathcal{L} = A_\mu \underbrace{\left( \partial^2 g^{\mu\nu} - \partial^\mu \partial^\nu + m^2 g^{\mu \nu} \right)}_{K^{\mu \nu}} ...
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2answers
4k views

What is the difference between parallel universe and multiverse?

What is the difference between parallel universe and multiverse? Is it parallel universe or universes?
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2answers
3k views

Definitions: 'locality' vs 'causality'

I'm having trouble unambiguously interpreting many answers here due to the fact that the terms locality and causality are sometimes used interchangeably, while other times seem to mean very different ...
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3answers
380 views

What is “A” in AGeV?

AGeV means GeV per nucleon. But why A letter is used for such a short cut? Why not NGeV, for example?
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2answers
2k views

What is Dalitz decay?

What is Dalitz decay? I know there are Dalitz $\pi^0 \to e^+ + e^- + \gamma$ decay, $w \to \pi^0 + e^+ + e^-$ decay, may be more. But is there a rule to say which decay is Dalitz and which is not? ...
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1answer
2k views

What does the concept of phase space mean in particle physics?

I came across the concept of phase space in statistical mechanics. How does this concept come about in particle physics? Why was it introduced and how is it used? What does it mean when ...
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2answers
336 views

Why equivalence principle is principle and not law?

We can prove that the inertial mass and the gravitational mass should be the same (equivalence principle) from the $f=mg=ma$ then $g=a$, so we have equivalence law! But why we said equivalence ...
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2answers
1k views

A basic confusion about what is an atom

Wikipedia defines atom as The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. and defines electron as: The ...
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0answers
1k views

What is the relationship between Luminosity, Intensity, and Flux?

I am always confused by the terminology: In high energy particle scattering, and in particular, in the context of collider physics, what is the relationship between luminosity, intensity and flux? ...
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2answers
5k views

Magnitude refers to number or number with units?

This question is about terminology for physical quantities. When we talk about magnitude (while talking about scalars and vectors) do we refer to just number or Number along with units? example: If ...
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1answer
2k views

What's the relation between perturbative and nonperturbative QFT?

In case of any miscommunication let me describe my understanding of the meaning of "perturbative" and "non-perturbative", and correct me if something is wrong: In a perturbatively defined QFT the ...
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3answers
637 views

Should the term Watt's Law be used for $P = IV$?

I'm revising some electrical curriculum for a technical training program. In the curriculum students have to calculate values using Ohm's law and the equation $$\text{Power = Current * Voltage}$$ ...
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3answers
756 views

Probability vs. degree of belief in facts of nature (“Plausibility”)

I just came across a line in a paper: "Assume the probability that a Lagrangian parameter lies between $a$ and $a + da$ is $dP(a) = $ [...]." This reminded me again of my single biggest qualm I have ...
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2answers
141 views

What should I call an n>4 dimensional Minkowski metric?

I am manipulating an $nxn$ metric where $n$ is often $> 4$, depending on the model. The $00$ component is always tau*constant, as in the Minkowski metric, but the signs on all components might be +...
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1answer
347 views

What does anthropic mean as in Anthropic principle? [closed]

I'm reading a book about string theory, and it describes anthropic principle. Idea is clear to me, I understand this principle describes certain constants in modern physics that are so fine tuned as ...
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2answers
771 views

Where do the terms microcanonical, canonical and grand canonical (ensemble) come from?

Where do the terms microcanonical, canonical and grand canonical (ensemble) come from? When were they coined and by whom? Is there any reason for the names or are they historical accidents?
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2answers
1k views

What does a non-perturbative theory mean?

I'm a science writer and I'm having difficulty understanding what a non-perturbative approach means. I thought I understood what perturbative meant, but in looking for explanations of non-perturbative,...
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3answers
2k views

Why is Higgs Boson given the name “The God Particle”?

Higgs Boson (messenger particle of Higgs field) accounts for inertial mass, not gravitational mass. So, how could it account for formation of universe as we know it today? I think, gravity accounts ...
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0answers
805 views

de Sitter and anti de Sitter metric

Is the following correct for the distance $d$ from the origin $(0,0)$ to point $(t,x)$ in the 2-dimensional de-Sitter and anti de-Sitter spaces? Here, $t$ is time and the distance may be called the ...
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2answers
175 views

May molecules of ideal gases have an inner structure?

The following question is probably very elementary: whether molecules of ideal gases may have optic properties? As far as I understand, when one discusses optic properties, one assumes that molecules ...
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0answers
226 views

Physical interpretation: weighted eigenvalues of the Laplacian with a potential

I'm a mathematician with only the basic knowledge of Physics, so my question may be trivial: in this case, mercy me. :-) Let $\Omega \subseteq \mathbb{R}^N$ be a domain and let $V,m:\Omega \to \...
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5answers
34k views

What's the difference between Fermi Energy and Fermi Level?

I'm a bit confused about the difference between these two concepts. According to Wikipedia the Fermi energy and Fermi level are closely related concepts. From my understanding, the Fermi energy is the ...
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4answers
297 views

Isotropy and Noise

If you have a field which value is just Gaussian noise plus a constant do you call it isotropic? there is no preferred direction however it is not "the same" in all directions if "the same" means "...
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1answer
864 views

Name of the process that causes ice to melt under pressure and refreeze after

I remember a physics experiment from school where a wire with weights on each end was placed over a block of ice. The pressure of the wire caused the ice to melt underneath and refreeze once the ...
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3answers
861 views

What does “nearly infinite mass” mean?

I am sure this is a silly question, but I was reading something that described the pre big-bang universe as having "nearly infinite mass." How can something be "nearly" infinite? The term seems to ...
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1answer
758 views

What is the difference between observer, frame of reference, and gauge?

It seems to me that there is considerable relationship between the three concepts: frame of reference, observer, and gauge. How do they overlap? My current understanding is that an observer with a ...
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0answers
312 views

Gauge invariant but not gauge covariant regularization

I'm not sure if someone's already asked this before, but I was wondering, in field theory, when we say that a certain field is gauge invariant but not gauge covariant, what does this mean? In ...
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2answers
2k views

What is “code” in “toric code”?

When I first heard people talking about using Kitaev's toric code to do topological quantum computation, I was thinking how many lines does the toric code have. Then I was told that the "code" really ...