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

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51 views

Origin of the word Permittivity

Who coined the word "permittivity"? It appears that first usage was in 1887. Please cite your source.
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1answer
66 views

Why is a dipole moment called a dipole moment

The General Formula for a moment is the following one: $$ \vec{M} = \vec{r} \times \vec{F} $$ However the formula for a dipole moment is this one: $$ \vec{p} = Q \vec{d} $$ How comes this is still ...
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1answer
82 views

Meaning of “Simple” in Simple Pendulum and Simple Harmonic Motion?

I have gone through the Phys.SE question Why is simple harmonic motion called so?. From the 1st answer of this Question it seems to me that another type of "Harmonic motion" is "Damped Harmonic ...
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1answer
218 views

Why have $n$, $\ell$, $m_\ell$, $m_s$ been picked as quantum number symbols $\mathbf{\text{in this order}}$?

I’m learning about electron configurations and don’t quite understand why $n$, $\ell$, $m_\ell$, $m_s$ have been picked as symbols for the quantum numbers. As far as I understand it, the principal ...
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0answers
28 views

What is Jacobian about the “Jacobian Edge” in $E_\mathrm{T}$ distributions?

Particle physicists often talk of a "Jacobian Edge" in distributions, i.e. when looking at the $E_\mathrm{T}$ distribution of $W \to e \nu$ decays at rest. How is this related to the Jacobian ...
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0answers
29 views

Archimedes' principle: innacurate terminology? [duplicate]

All around I read that buoyancy is numerically equal to the weight of fluid displaced by a submerged object, the volume of displaced fluid being equal to that of the submerged portion (Wikipedia). ...
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2answers
143 views

Quantum Philosophy a la John Bell

I recently discovered this website http://www.quantumphil.org/ and wondering whether Quantum Philosophy is an actual field, or just an aspect of QM? Apologies if this is in the wrong place.
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1answer
99 views

How to pronounce $\textrm{eV}\!/c^2$

It seems that $\textrm{eV}\!/c^2$ (and its multiples) is commonly used as the unit of mass in particle physics. For example, David Griffiths uses it quite naturally in Introduction to Elementary ...
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2answers
794 views

Mnemonics for remembering physical data [closed]

Anyone have good mnemonics for remembering standard packets of data in physics? Any field within physics would be welcomed. Examples of such "packets": data in the standard model of particle ...
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1answer
55 views

Phase space appellation

Does anyone know why they called the momentum-position space the phase space in the first place? To clarify what I mean a bit more, I'll give you an example: The name configuration space for the ...
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1answer
26 views

Differentiating between mass number (A) and activity (A) in a nomenclature/glossary [closed]

I'm not sure if this is the best place to ask this question, but as it's related to the terminology of nuclear physics I thought it would probably be a logical place to start. I'm currently writing ...
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2answers
99 views

What are threshold corrections?

As the title goes, what are threshold corrections in quantum field theory? In particular, I would be glad if a good reference is provided. Standard QFT books such as Peskin, Weinberg, etc seem to ...
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1answer
60 views

What does this notation mean? [duplicate]

Terminology question. Reading this, in the middle of the second page, when it says Left-handed quarks form 3 (3; 2; + 1 6 ) multiplets Qn (n = 1; 2; 3); What does this (3;2;+1/6) mean?
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11answers
34k views

What is the difference between “kinematics” and “dynamics”?

I have noticed that authors in the literature sometimes divide characteristics of some phenomenon into "kinematics" and "dynamics". I first encountered this in Jackson's E&M book, where, in ...
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4answers
2k views

What is a correct and simple definition of quantum physics?

Is it correct to define Quantum Physics as the study of Physics in sub-atomic scale? Does Quantum Physics studies something else other than sub-atomic phenomena? This may be a very stupid question ...
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2answers
152 views

Does the term “dark matter” apply to nonluminescent bodies which still interact electromagnetically?

On the new Astronomy.SE site, I was having a short discussion on one of my answers. The basic discrepancy was; can MACHOs like black holes/brown dwarfs/neutron stars be termed "dark matter"? My ...
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1answer
82 views

Is there a technical term for “meaningfulness” of mathematical operations?

Is there a technical term for "meaningfulness" of mathematical operations? For example, adding vectors that represent forces has a meaning regardless of the coordinate frame, but an elementwise ...
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1answer
53 views

If the axis of rotation is fixed, is it ok to say clockwise torque?

I know that the direction of torque is along the axis of rotation, but would it be acceptable to say, for example considering a vertical thin rod in the x-y plane with a force acting on the bottom end ...
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2answers
302 views

Where does this term “shell” with prefix “on-/off-” come from?

Is there some historical reasons or is there a specific reason behind it? This question is connected to: Why on-shell vs. off-shell matters?
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2answers
75 views

What is the principle of equivalence in thermodynamics?

I've been searching for this for a while. There is a principle of equivalence in general relativity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivalence_principle But I need the principle of equivalence in ...
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1answer
45 views

Gravity force and dark energy [duplicate]

If gravity is a fundamental force which bends spacetime and dark energy is energy which stretches spacetime, what is the difference between the terms force and energy?
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1answer
76 views

Single-channel vs multi-channel scattering

I am studying quantum scattering and stumbled upon the "scattering channel" and "single- and multi-channel scattering" terms. However, I didn't manage to find any sufficiently formal definitions of ...
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2answers
115 views

Why “Dark Energy” is called energy instead of force?

The overly simplified explanation I'm giving myself right now is dark energy causes the opposite of what gravity does, that's why the universe is expanding. Now where gravity is a force, why dark ...
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2answers
115 views

Why is the Faraday Tensor derived from the Lorentz force?

If we start from the Lorentz force, $$\textbf{F}=q\textbf{E} +q\textbf{v}\times\textbf{B}$$ and use the four velocity u$^{\mu}$ and the four momentum p$^{\nu}$, then we get to ...
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3answers
71 views

Commutator summation notation

I have the relation $ e^L M e^{-L}=\sum_{n=0}^\infty \frac 1{n!} [L,M]_{(n)}$ where $L$ and $M$ are operators. What does the subscript $n$ after the commutator bracket denote?
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1answer
137 views

Which transformations are canonical?

Which transformations are canonical? Why do canonical transformations preserve the measure of integration in phase space?
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0answers
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What is Fermi energy and Fermi level? [duplicate]

What is meant by Fermi level and Fermi energy? And what is the difference between the two?
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0answers
52 views

Actions at a distance vs. contact interaction

The ancestors could not imagine an action at a distance (in German: "Fernwirkung"). Today physicists don't take serious its opposite anymore (in German: "Kontaktwechselwirkung"). So my first question ...
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1answer
501 views

Difference between steady state and equilibrium?

In semiconductor physics, what is the difference between steady state and equilibrium. How analysis of devices varies in these processes?
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2answers
67 views

Should theory be the appropriate term? [duplicate]

Should theory be the appropriate term? I mean, for example, because of the quantum field theory we have been able to find the subatomic particles that it theorized and make the Standard Model. Why ...
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2answers
5k views

Is time a Scalar or a Vector?

In Wikipedia it's said that time is a scalar quantity. But its hard to understand that how? As stated that we consider only the magnitude of time then its a scalar. But on basis of time we define ...
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1answer
311 views

Transparence of an infinite square well? [closed]

What does it mean by an infinite square well being transparent? I have been doing the calculation of the infinite square well and I came up with an answer $T = 1$ where $T$ for Transmission ...
4
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1answer
280 views

“Hard wall”/ “soft wall”

I have encountered those terms in various places. As I understand it, "soft wall" can correspond to a smooth cutoff of some spacetime, while "hard wall" can be a sharp one, which can be described in ...
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2answers
70 views

How is the set of displacement operators best called?

Displacement operators $\hat D(x,p), \ \ x,p\in\mathbb{R},$ follow a composition rule $$D(x,p) D(x',p') = \exp\frac{i(px'-xp')}2 D(x+x',p+p').$$ Because of the extraneous phase factor, the set of all ...
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1answer
54 views

Valley meaning explanation for foreigner

English is not my native language and I have some hard time translating this word. I was searching in couple dictionaries(both paper and online) and could not find it. Could anyone provide me ...
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2answers
90 views

Terminology for line integral of magnetic field

One of the quantities appearing in the integral form of Maxwell's Equations is the line integral of the magnetic field around a closed loop. (The relevant equation states that this is equal to the ...
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1answer
50 views

The exact definition of conjugate momentum density

After checking various websites, I've seen the conjugate momentum density defined as either: \begin{align*} P_r ~=~ \frac{\partial \mathcal{L}}{\partial \dot{A}_r} \end{align*} or \begin{align*} P_r ...
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0answers
49 views

Difference between RPA and generalized RPA

The random phase approximation (RPA) is an approximation method in condensed matter physics and in nuclear physics. What is the difference between RPA and generalized RPA?
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3answers
488 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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0answers
22 views

What is “thermal undulation” in the context of lipid bilayers?

What is thermal undulation in the context of lipid bilayers? Is it another word for "thermal fluctuation"?
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1answer
90 views

Ramsey Interactions

What are Ramsey interactions? I am researching atomic clocks and am not sure why the atoms need to be exposed twice to an electromagnetic field in order to cause excitation.
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2answers
66 views

Definition of quantum anharmonicity

I have been reading research papers in mathematical physics for some months now, and I've seen the the term "anharmonic oscillator" quite frequently. At first I assumed that given a Schrodinger ...
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1answer
26 views

Equivalent temperature: laser and cell containing Rb

What's the meaning of "equivalent temperature" related to a cell containing rubidium and crossed by laser?
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1answer
54 views

What is a phrase for testing for a certain result? [closed]

Is there a word or phrase for when someone is testing for a certain result thereby skewing his findings?
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156 views

Morphisms between chiral CFTs

This is a question about terminology. Given two vertex algebras $V_1$ and $V_2$ (= chiral CFTs), there are two kinds of maps $V_1\to V_2$ that one might want to consider. 1) Morphisms of VOAs that ...
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1answer
169 views

Why the speed of light is represented by $c$? [closed]

In almost every textbook, I've found that the speed of light is $c \approx 3 \times 10^8\: \mathrm{m/s}$. I wonder why it's just $c$ ?
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3answers
12k views

What is the difference between phase difference and path difference?

I have learnt that path difference is the difference between the distance travelled by two waves meeting at a point. If that is path difference,then how will one know what is phase difference and how ...
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0answers
25 views

Is there a generic term for orbital groups such as $e_g$ and $t_{2g}$?

I am looking for a generic term for sets of atomic orbitals (viz. spherical harmonics) which are grouped by crystal symmetry. The most familiar examples would be $e_g$ and $t_{2g}$ (in cubic ...
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4answers
2k views

Are quantum mechanics and quantum physics the same field?

What is the difference between quantum mechanics and quantum physics?
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2answers
462 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 ...