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

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Is energy only an idea? [duplicate]

Physicists say that energy is the ability to do work, and work is moving something against a force, like gravity. But what is energy? Is it something real? I know I will be criticised for using that ...
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0answers
29 views

What is the definition of governing equation? [closed]

What is the exact definition of the governing equation? What is its purpose? What makes it different than other equations of physics? Why they are necessary?
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2answers
39 views

SHM with acceleration at mean position

Suppose we have an equation of motion as $$\frac{d^2x}{dt^2} = -kx + c,$$ then can it be called a SHM? Since acceleration is still proportional to displacement. But then, how will we define the mean ...
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2answers
79 views

Why is it called “escape velocity” and not “escape acceleration”?

As we know, velocity to escape from an orbit is in proportional with the orbital velocity: $$v_\mathrm{escape}=\sqrt{2}v_\mathrm{orbit}$$ Since, orbital velocity decreases as we move away so should ...
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2answers
72 views

What exactly is duality?

I came across the notion of duality recently to explain a physical concept. What is duality? Why does it occur? How do I know if two things are dual?
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1answer
48 views

Why are we mentioning weight of the product in kg? Why not Newton? [closed]

I am confused using this units. Why this changes happened?
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2answers
45 views

What is the difference between the meaning of “state space” and “configuration space”?

What is the difference between the meaning of "state space" and "configuration space"? I'm only familiar with the first, and when I look up the second I can't tell the difference.
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1answer
51 views

What does it mean to say that something is “relativistic for an electron”?

I want to understand a concept better. I did a homework problem where I solved it all the way, then checked my answer with a solution set. My answer was different, so I followed the solution set from ...
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1answer
62 views

In GR what is a “source-frame mass”?

In the recent LIGO paper, "GW150914: First results from the search for binary black hole coalescence with Advanced LIGO, (LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration)", they refer to the ...
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1answer
41 views

Energy method to solving equations of motion? Why does this method work and what is it called?

Given the stated system in the photo we are suppose to prove simple harmonic motion when given an initial displacement $x$ I first considered the total energy of the system which we will call $H$ ...
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1answer
40 views

Vectors finding direction include the difference between “north of east” and “east of north”

In what direction is your friend from the starting point after skiing 3 km east and then 1.5 km north? so far I know that angle= tan-1(opp/adj)=(1.5/3.0) angle= ...
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36 views

Name of the fourth entropy potential

Wikipedia's "Free Entropy" page lists three entropy potentials: Entropy, $S$, with natural variables $U$ and $V$ Massieu Potential / Helmholtz Free Entropy, $\Phi$, with natural variables $1/T$ and ...
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31 views

Why is Bohr's explanation called Bohr's model and not Bohr's theory?

I have seen an answer which tells the difference between model (specific) and a theory (general). And it makes sense 'coz Bohr explained it for the hydrogen atom only. But did he not make a set of ...
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2answers
62 views

Is standing wave realy a wave [closed]

We know that at least the waves inside a flute or laser make resonance waves,and simply we know that a standing wave is superposition of two waves that are propagating in oposit direction,for example ...
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0answers
67 views

What is a Witten diagram?

Recently I heard the terminology of Witten diagram. Studying QFT, I frequently see Feynman diagrams and use them to compute scattering amplitudes, one-loop corrections and so on. In string theory ...
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1answer
73 views

How is father of physics appointed? [closed]

I've tried Google, but couldn't figured out exactly whether its Newton, Einstein or Galileo. What is the criteria for appointment of father for a particular subject?
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1answer
116 views

What does $L^2(S^1,\mu_H)$ mean?

It's a Hilbert space, $\mu_H$ stands for the Haar measure on $U(1)$, but what does $S^1$ mean? I found it in one of my quantum mechanics books which approaches from a very 'mathematical' way.
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1answer
33 views

How do we call in English scientific terms the Fermat's principle about back and forth light traversal?

We know that the path followed by the light from point A to point B is independent of the direction of propagation of light. This is what is called in French "le principe de retour inverse de la ...
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4answers
56 views

Same equation, different meanings

I went into a physics classroom today and saw this equation written on the board: $$ E = \frac \sigma \epsilon $$ At first I thought it referred to the electric field $ E $ between 2 parallel plates ...
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4answers
105 views

What is meant by an excited atom?

I want to know how an atom is when it is excited. If an atom, due to collision of another fast moving atom, becomes fast moving as well, is that also an "excited state"?
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91 views

Which scientist is this?

Okay so I was watching discovery channel, in that i saw a man cleaning live electric wires of 10k volts in the air, he was not touching the ground. They said he was able to do this because of the ...
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1answer
56 views

Doesn't linear motion include curvilinear and rectilinear motion?

From some Portuguese language textbooks, I learned the following definitions: linear motion (movimento linear): motion along a line; rectilinear motion (movimento retilíneo): motion along a straight ...
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51 views

Terminology - optical (visual) properties of a structure

I am trying to understand few terminological problems that I encounter. Without knowing keywords it is hard to perform search for literature or publications in the area. The area relates to the ...
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3answers
58 views

What is the difference between accelerating and boosting?

My professor claimed in class that there was a difference between an acceleration and a boost. I don't really understand the distinction. If you want to go to a different inertial frame of reference, ...
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41 views

What is $\mathrm{U(1)}$ vector and axial?

In hadron physics we talked about $\mathrm{U(1)_V}$ (vector) and $\mathrm{U(1)_A}$ (axial) as well as $\mathrm{SU(3)_L}$ (left) and $\mathrm{SU(3)_R}$ (right). There are certain relations between them ...
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1answer
24 views

Prompt gamma emission vs gamma decay

I understand prompt gamma emission to mean gamma emission in a time period shorter than a second. I understand gamma decay to be the relaxion of a nucleus into a lower energy level by emission of a ...
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1answer
152 views

Repeated index in covariant derivative using abstract index notation

The same index showing up twice in the charge conservation law $\nabla_a j^a = 0$, as stated using abstract index notation, highly confuses me. If we chose a coordinate basis ...
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4answers
37 views

What is the distinction between a “ray” and a “wave” in optics?

What is the distinction between a ray and a wave in optics? From what I can gather, the only discernible difference is in nomenclature, where a ray simply refers to an EM wave with short wavelengths. ...
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2answers
66 views

Distinguishing real forces and fictitious/pseudo forces in Newtonian mechanics

In understanding the law of inertia I had to consider the motion of bodies screened from the so called "real forces". What characterises these real forces? What makes us call them real? Or what is ...
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3answers
78 views

What does “fidelity” mean?

In particular I am interested in whether it is more closely related to "precision" or "accuracy". So a somewhat mathematical description might be appropriate. For example the word "fidelity" occurs ...
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29 views

Physical intuition on bivector in fluid dynamics

Reading the M. S. Howe's Theory of Vortex Sound I've ran into this exoression and equation: Let $v_A$ denote the fluid velocity at a point A at $x$. The velocity $v_B$ at a neighbouring point B at ...
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2answers
425 views

What is polytropic index?

What is polytropic index? What is the connection between it and work of an adiabatic system? I tried surfing but didn't able to find a proper answer for that.
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1answer
53 views

Difference between escape velocity and speed [duplicate]

What is the difference between escape velocity and escape speed , is their any error if we use them interchangeably?
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37 views

Names for various color indices in QCD

In Quantum Chromodynamics with $\mathrm{SU}(3)$ there are at least two types of color indices: Indices $a$, $b$, … that index the eight generators of the group $\mathrm{SU}(3)$. In some sense they ...
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1answer
179 views

What is difference between polarization and polarizability and how do we define it? [closed]

The book of physics that I have, uses the word "polarization" sometimes and sometimes uses the term "polarizability" and I am getting confused. And I even checked the dictionary for the term ...
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1answer
38 views

What is the different between Poisson Nernst–Planck and Poisson Navier–Stokes in the Electrolyte?

I am now studying about electroosmosis flow phenomena which is governing by the Navier-Stokes equation and Poisson equation. By combine these two equation we can describe the electrolyte flow velocity ...
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37 views

Radiative corrections and stability

What is meant by the terms radiatively stable and radiatively unstable? I know that when calculating physical observables in quantum field theory, such as the mass of the electron, to obtain a more ...
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4answers
105 views

Why the word “measurement” all the time?

I'm trying to learn more about the properties of light. In all the youtube videos and related to the two-slit experiment, the explanations always say that "measuring" can change the outcome. Why do ...
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1answer
44 views

Is there a name for leptons that are not neutrinos?

Is there a name for leptons that are not neutrinos? Not sure if its exists, its not particularly easy to search for. Is there a name for the set of charged leptons (or leptons that are not neutrinos)? ...
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1answer
91 views

Does 'focal length' mean something different with lenses and pinhole cameras?

Sometimes different but related things have the same name by some tradition or accident, causing a lot of headache to newcomers to a field. I would like to come to clear terms with this: does the ...
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95 views

Mean Field Theory vs. Effective Field Theory

I am reading my many-body quantum physics textbook, and specifically the section on Mean field theory. It seems that the Mean field approximation in the Hamiltonian formalism must be equivalent to ...
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5answers
2k views

What is a state in physics?

What is a state in physics? While reading physics, I have heard many a times a "___" system is in "____" state but the definition of a state was never provided (and googling brings me totally ...
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2answers
83 views

What exactly is an arbitrary parameter?

I was reading the article Turning Points: A meeting with Enrico Fermi by Freeman Dyson (available e.g. here), and I had a question about Dyson's use of the term 'arbitrary parameter'. More ...
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3answers
191 views

What does “the fabric of space and time” actually mean? [closed]

I've heard the term "the fabric of space and time" in both physics and science fiction, and although I know it has something to do with general relativity, I don't understand what, specifically, ...
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2answers
74 views

Heuristic explanation of the difference between vectors and scalars in physics

I'm trying to give a student a (physically) intuitive, heuristic explanation as to why certain quantities are vectors and others are scalars. Here is what I have come up with: Scalars are quantities ...
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1answer
76 views

What is the difference between Fermi level and Fermi edge?

Just as in title: What is the difference between Fermi level and Fermi edge? My friend makes some research about XPS and he encountered this term. He knows what is Fermi level, but never heard about ...
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1answer
178 views

Why do astronomers call all elements heavier than helium “metals”?

I understand that a scientific term need not be constrained by its etymology. But is there some significant reason why astronomers choose to call all elements heavier than helium "metals"? Are ...
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3answers
119 views

What is the difference between toy models and normal models? [closed]

Here is the short description of scientific model: an imperfect or idealized representation of a physical system And the definition of toy model: a simplified set of objects and equations ...
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0answers
49 views

Difference between the propagators and vertex function [closed]

I am confused between Green's function and vertex function in field theory. Can someone please explain the difference between the two in context ${\lambda} {\phi}^4$ theory?
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Escape speed or Escape Velocity? [duplicate]

Which one should be the correct term escape speed or escape velocity? In one book it is given Speed whereas in another its velocity.