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

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What is an incoherent state?

I am reading through a recent paper which speaks frequently of "incoherent states" without ever defining what such a state is. I gather from the context of the paper that it has something to do with ...
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4answers
3k views

Space-like and time-like: where do the names come from?

Space-like separated events are events that, in a well-chosen reference frame, can take place at the same time but never happen at the same location. On the other hand for time-like events, one can ...
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1answer
62 views

Why can´t we call the energy released after the annihilation of a particle and its antiparticle `pure` energy? [closed]

As a particle and its antiparticle annihilate each other a huge amount of energy is released, and no mass is left. This energy always comes in the form of force mediating particles (photons, gluons). ...
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0answers
30 views

Are general coordinate transformations and diffeomorphisms the same? [duplicate]

Infinitesimal diffeomorphisms $x{}^\mu \rightarrow x{}^\mu + \xi{}^\mu$ (with $\xi{}^\mu \ll 1$) change geometric objects by means of the Lie derivative, that is, $X \rightarrow X + \mathcal{L}_\xi \, ...
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25 views

What is the name of basis states of bulk k.p Hamiltonian?

A k.p Hamiltonian for a bulk material can be represented by 8x8 matrix in basis of $|S\uparrow\rangle$, $|S\downarrow\rangle$, $|X\uparrow\rangle$, $|Y\uparrow\rangle$, $|Z\uparrow\rangle$, $|X\...
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1answer
36 views

Do we mean with 'pure energy' the force-carrying particles? [closed]

I often read, hear and talk about pure energy. What is meant by this? Does pure energy consists of the forces between matter, or the force mediating particles, like the massless photons and gluon? I ...
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1answer
40 views

What kind of damping is this $F = -ax|x'|$?

From Applied Mathematics by Logan: A mass hanging on a spring is <...> governed by $$mx'' = -ax|x'| - kx$$ where $-ax|x'|$ is a nonlinear damping force. I looked up "nonlinear damping" ...
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1answer
299 views

What is meant by the term “value” of a scalar quantum field?

During the slow roll of a scalar field, the scalar field is changing its value over time. But what is meant by the term "value" of a scalar field? Since the scalar field is quantized, I don't ...
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28 views

What does 'fully excited' actually mean?

In statistical mechanics you often hear the phrases such as 'when the degrees of freedom are fully excited then....'. An example would be the validity of the equipartition theorem. But what is the ...
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2answers
97 views

Is electromotive force really a force? [duplicate]

As far the definition goes emf of electromotive force is basically potential difference. It even has dimensions of potential. Then why is it called a force?
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422 views

Why is it called “annihilation”?

The term "annihilate" literally means "turn into nothing". However, when a particle and antiparticle collide, they clearly do not turn into nothing; they simply transform into different particles. ...
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44 views

Gravitation and gravity

Are gravity and gravitation the same thing? Actually I have 2 teachers at my school. One of the said that gravitation is the force of attraction between any two bodies in the universe due to their ...
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1answer
64 views

Is there a difference between the adjoint and conjugate?

Is there a difference between the adjoint and conjugate? I have recently started some work for a quantum field theory module and I'm wondering if there is a difference between the adjoint or conjugate ...
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0answers
53 views

Found a weird piece of lab equipment?

My physics teacher found a weird piece of equipment in his classroom that was dated to the 70's. The item in question has no identifying marker except for "Carolina Biological". He has contacted the ...
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1answer
104 views

What's the difference between frequency, spectral and cepstral domains?

I have a hard time teasing apart the conceptual difference between these three domains, and constantly mix them up in my head. I've been reading up on it, but I can't wrap my head around it. a time-...
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2answers
94 views

What S means in S-duality?

As I know, there are many dualities related to S-duality. For example, Montonen-Olive duality, Seiberg duality. and so on. so, I wonder that what "S" means in the term "S-duality". If this is a stupid ...
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1answer
49 views

What is the difference between habitable and Goldilocks zone?

If I am right, Habitable Zone means that a planet is on such a distance from its Star which makes it good candidate for supporting some sort of life. But then what is Goldilocks zone and how is it ...
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3answers
55 views

EMF or terminal voltage?

I have a doubt that is: What does this statement mean: "a 6 V battery". Does this mean that the EMF of the battery is 6 V or the terminal voltage of the battery is 6 V? If the battery has internal ...
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2answers
975 views

How to understand whether potential energy increases or decreases?

I am confused by how to deal with the negative sign in the equation $U=-GMm/r^2$ in the following problem: If the distance between two masses is tripled, then the magnitude of the gravitational ...
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3answers
51 views

What does the “moment” in the moment of force or the moment of inertia refer to? [duplicate]

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary: Moment - a very short period of time Does the word "moment" in quantities like the moment of force or moment of inertia refer to this colloquial ...
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0answers
18 views

Slowly Varying Functions for Adiabatic Invariants - The Same as Karamata's?

In section 49 (and 50) of Landau and Lifschitz's "Classical Mechanics", adiabatic invariants are discussed, which are related to functions which vary adiabatically or "slowly" with time. Admittedly ...
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0answers
15 views

Equivalent of the word “Attitude” for the other three DoFs [closed]

When discussing the physical state of a thing (e.g. a satellite), you can refer to its attitude state (which, to me, consists of its attitude and its derivatives/rates) and its.... non-attitude state (...
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0answers
22 views

Position, velocity, acceleration, jolt, and [duplicate]

I am familiar with the fact that $\displaystyle{\frac{dx}{dt}}=v$, $\displaystyle{\frac{dv}{dt} =a}$, and $\displaystyle{\frac{da}{dt}=J}$ where $J$ denotes the 'jolt', or jerk. Are further ...
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1answer
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4answers
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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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1answer
317 views

What is the meaning of “moment”?

What is the meaning of moment? I'm little confused about the word as there are some terms like moment of momentum, moment of mass, moment of force, etc. I want to know what exactly is meant by the ...
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1answer
960 views

Meaning of the word “Moment”?

This question is more of a question about the origin of a physical term moment used in many contexts. My question is about the linguistic or historical meaning of the word "moment". Please don't ...
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2answers
300 views

What is meant by the term “completeness relation”

From my humble (physicist) mathematics training, I have a vague notion of what a Hilbert space actually is mathematically, i.e. an inner product space that is complete, with completeness in this sense ...
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1answer
19 views

Semiconductor nanostructure and heterostructure

What is the difference between compositional superlattice and doping superlattice?
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1answer
32 views

What is the word describing the pairs: temperature and energy, chemical potential and particle number?

I keep forgetting the word describing the pairs of coupled quantities in stat. mech. e.g. inverse temperature $\beta$ and internal energy $E$ or chemical potential $\mu$ and particle number $N$. I ...
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14 views

Inertial force of fluids [duplicate]

Reynold's number is the ratio of inertial force to viscous force.I also know the definition of inertial force.but where does a fluid get this force from?what are the factors responsible for this force?...
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1answer
70 views

What is gate symmetry?

I just read this interesting interview with Frank Wilczek and he talks a couple of times about gate symmetry, without ever defining the term. This isn't a term I've come across, and google throws up ...
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1answer
46 views

Difference between sudden force and impulsive force? [duplicate]

What is the difference between a sudden force which continues to act on the body, and an impulsive force? What would be respective speeds of the body just after time= 0?
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What is the general definition of a quench?

I've seen the term "quench" used in many different contexts. It's easy to understand the meaning when the context has a simple physical analogue, such as lowering the temperature of a system to cause ...
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2answers
198 views

Is it better to call the doppler effect a change in wavelength or frequency?

Why is it preferable to say that the doppler effect causes a shift in frequency rather than a shift in wavelength? I often read on websites that they define the doppler effect as a change in frequency....
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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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1answer
41 views

What is $bfr$ in this expression?

I am reading 'Fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics' by Sakir Erokoc and came across this expression in relation to transition probabilities: $$\vec p=e \langle \psi_b |bfr|\psi_a \rangle$$ Which can be ...
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28 views

Why are photonics fibers called band gap fiber?

Why are photonics fibers called band gap fibers? Do the photonic fibers guide light inside the band gap or outside? What creates the band structure?
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1answer
13k views

What is Convective acceleration of flow velocity?

I know that $\frac {dv}{dt}=a$ is acceleration, but: What is convective acceleration of a flow velocity? What is difference between $(v\cdot \nabla) v$ and $v\cdot (\nabla v)$?
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What exactly is the difference between radiation, conduction, and convection?

Okay, so everywhere I've read, I hear the main difference is the requirement of a medium. But for example, if you take the case of heat 'radiating' from a red-hot iron, isn't that actually convection ...
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1answer
35 views

Symbol $p^{0}$ of particle [closed]

This is a very trivial question, but I cannot seem to find the answer anywhere in a textbook or the internet. My question is, what particle is represented by this symbol? $$p^{0}$$
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2answers
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Holonomic constraints and degrees of freedom?

Can we see that a constraint can decrease the degrees of freedom of a system if and only if it is holonomic. Either way please can you explain why?
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2answers
55 views

Definition of a ray?

The typical definition of a ray and the one that I was initially taught was that a ray was a line perpendicular to the wave front. However, when reading up on birefringence it seems as though there ...
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1answer
213 views

Regular solution vs irregular solution

My Quantum Mechanics textbook (John S. Townsend's A Modern Approach to Quantum Mechanics) mentions regular solutions and irregular solutions. It claims that regular solutions (at the origin) to the ...
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1answer
33 views

Bifundamental representations [closed]

Can someone give me explicit examples (in matrix form) of bifundamental representations? Illustrative would be for instance: a) SU(3) x SU(2) b) SO(4) x U(1) c) E6 x U(1) but other you may have ready ...
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37 views

Terminology for 'inferring the current state of a quantum system as it evolves and gets measured out of your control'

Suppose I hand you a quantum computer in an unknown state, but running a known program. You know the program and which part of the program is currently being executed. The program tells the computer ...
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1answer
40 views

Spectroscopy, interferometry and …?

Consider the case of a Michelson 'Interferometer', from what I have read: If you measure the output as a function of mirror separation that's interferometry. If you measure the output as a function ...
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2answers
408 views

Does “normal torque” exist?

Is there any force called normal torque? If a ruler is spinning, and it hits the floor, obviously it will stop. The floor must be exerting a "normal torque" on the ruler. If this exists, please tell ...
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173 views

“Randomness” versus “uncertainty”

Highly rated PhysicsSE contributor @CuriousOne regularly makes the following claim about quantum mechanics (e.g. here): There is no randomness in quantum mechanics, there is only uncertainty. I ...
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38 views

Ampere right hand screw rule or Maxwell screw rule is the more correct name of the right hand grip rule?

Wikipedia states ampere right hand screw rule Some textbooks state maxwell screw rule Which one is the more correct name in representing the (colloquial) Right hand grip rule?