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

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35 views

What does 'easily reversed' mean in the NIST spectral database? [closed]

Cross posted to http://engineering.stackexchange.com/q/3303/ I'm trying to do some processing of optical emission spectra from sputtering plasmas, and am confused by what NIST means by 'easily ...
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23 views

Measurement of drag (?) tension between two surfaces

I want to know if there are (reasonably inexpensive) devices to measure the tension between two surfaces. Beware of my terminology: the first help I need is to actually formulate my question ...
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1answer
40 views

What is “forward peaking”?

In "Research and Development for a Gadolinium Doped Water Cherenkov Detector" the phrase "forward peaking" is used to describe a signal. This comes up in lots of other contexts too, but I still can't ...
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3answers
447 views

In the double slit experiment what, exactly, is a slit?

I have seen and read several times about the double slit experiment, that an electron (or even a molecule (!) as I found out later) behaves like a wave that swaps over those slits. However I wonder ...
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0answers
86 views

Why does Wikipedia equate hidden symmetry with broken symmetry for the standard model?

I have recently started studying the basic ideas of symmetry and group representation in order to understand the basic principles behind the standard model. I do follow the difference between a global ...
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2answers
216 views

What is meant by “unique direction” in most of the arguments in application of Gauss' Law?

This term is really bothering me a lot. While explaining the radial direction of electric field of a uniformly charged sphere, my book writes: Notice the use of argument of symmetry. There is no ...
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1answer
54 views

What is meant by 'a perfect dipole'?

Question What is meant by a perfect (electric) dipole? Additional information I came across the term in this question Force from point charge on perfect dipole and also in a textbook (which does ...
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2answers
46 views

Difference between a reversible change and a reversible process?

Question In thermodynamics what is the difference between a reversible change and a reversible process? Additional information I am new to the topic of thermodynamics and getting confused about ...
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0answers
17 views

Radial excitation and orbital-angular momentum excitation

Sorry. Just want to make sure, but what does radial excitation and orbital-angular excitation mean in the context of bound states? Just higher $n$ and $\ell$ quantum number?
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5answers
6k views

Why and how does negative velocity exist?

Why and how does negative velocity exist? I have read on the internet about negative velocity but I still don't understand how it can even exist since time is positive and so is length. By doing some ...
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2answers
38 views

Is net work and total work same?

According to my text book Total Work = Delta Kinetic Energy = KEf - KEi But then work is defined to be dot product of Force (vector) and Displacement (vector). Also to my knowledge work is ...
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1answer
80 views

Is there a scientific term for the right-hand-(grip-)rule?

To illustrate and remember the direction of rotation around an axis defined by a vector as it happens to be in some fields of physics, one can employ the right-hand-rule: (image from here) Is ...
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1answer
41 views

Superscript on density matrix

I have been asked in homework to solve the optical bloch equation for the initial condition of $\rho_{22}=0,\rho_{12}=0$. Professor gave a hint of the general equation and let us carry it from here. ...
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0answers
48 views

What is primitive divergence?

As in the title, what is primitive divergence? How is it distinguished from normal divergence? As a followup, what is a primitive divergent graph in a theory? Some simple examples?
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1answer
93 views

What is a weak solution of the MHD equations?

Many papers concerning solutions to the magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) equations (eg. Osher, 1984) say that one is generally interested in finding weak solutions. Sometimes they are even called global ...
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3answers
87 views

Gravitational acceleration

'What is difference between free fall acceleration g and gravitational acceleration a?***a is with subscript g.In my textbook it is written that "free fall acceleration = gravitational acceleration - ...
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2answers
270 views

What is the essential difference between a resonance and a particle?

Let me start by explaining my particle physics background is very patchy, so this question may not be as coherent as I would like it to be. In general terms, what is the difference between a ...
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2answers
781 views

What is the difference between a “model” and a “theory”?

In my past questions I have used the terms "model" and "theory" interchangeably. So we have statements along the lines of The Standard Model is our best theory of particle physics but I have also ...
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3answers
111 views

“Complete” confusion

The word "complete" seems to be used in several distinct ways. Perhaps my confusion is as much linguistic as mathematical? A basis, by definition, spans the space; some books call this "complete" -- ...
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1answer
51 views

What is meant by “the superpotential is not renormalized”?

Reading about supersymmetry I often read the phrase because of the non-renormalization theorems the superpotential is not renormalized. I would like someone to be more explicit on what is ...
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0answers
17 views

Is there a name for the squared refractive index?

In studying wave propagation through multilayers, the squared refractive index $n^2$ is a more pertinent parameter than $n$ itself. Is there a received name for $n^2$? Of course, as long as there is ...
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1answer
66 views

What are “correlations”?

When working with realistic two-body hamiltonians, a direct diagonalization is almost always imposible. Thus one usually takes a procedure which yields an approximate solution. A well known approach ...
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2answers
100 views

Why can't we precisely define physics? [closed]

While reading a textbook, I came across this statement: "A precise definition of physics is neither possible nor necessary." I was curious why it is not possible but the textbook never ...
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1answer
52 views

Is there a name for the linear quantity corresponding to the (quadratic) “interval $\Delta s^2$”?

Recently it has been affirmed here (again) that the quantity called "interval (also 'spacetime interval' or 'invariant interval')" is referring to two (in general distinct) events as arguments, such ...
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1answer
23 views

Motion in oscillating field: expanding in powers of $\xi$ [closed]

I'm reading an excerpt from Landau/Lifschitz's Mechanics book about motion in oscillating fields. Two equations for the motion of a particle with mass $m$ are set out: \begin{equation} m\ddot{x} = ...
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1answer
90 views

Is 'Boltzon' an accepted name for particles following Maxwell-Boltzmann (MB) statistics?

In my curriculum during one of my statistical mechanics visiting lecture classes, our teacher was referring comparatively macro particles following MB statistics as "Boltzon". But I have searched ...
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1answer
402 views

Does “finite” include zero?

Infinity, is clearly not finite. But there is some dissent on whether or not zero is finite. I have seen authors use "finite" to indicate the value of $0$ is excluded as well as infinity. Is there ...
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0answers
33 views

What do physicists mean with “classical critical behaviour”?

What do physicists mean with "classical critical behaviour"? As far as I am concerned it should be "power law behaviour" of some quantity close to the critical point but I ask here to be sure.
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1answer
64 views

Can someone explain what's the difference between all these terms in “Simple Words” with their “applications”? [closed]

I'm very confused between all these terms. Can someone explain what's the difference between Classical Mechanics, Relativistic Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Field Theory, ...
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1answer
57 views

What does “Standard Model” really refer to?

I am reading the arXiv published paper by Frank Wilczek called "Physics in 100 Years". Apparently, this paper is the printed form of a talk given at Brown University earlier this year (2015). Right ...
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1answer
24 views

Object moving with 2 linear accelerations

Say I have an object moving with an acceleration of 5 m/s$^2$. At a certain point X, due to some forces, the acceleration of the object changes from 5 m/s$^2$ to 2 m/s$^2$. Would this change in ...
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2answers
316 views

What is the difference between configuration space and phase space?

What is the difference between configuration space and phase space? In particular, I notices that Lagrangians are defined over configuration space and Hamiltonians over phase space. Liouville's ...
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0answers
49 views

Can anybody explain about phase shift and phase spectrum terms in case of multidimensional signal?

I know about phase of a 1D signal, but when I move into higher dimensions like 2D or 3D etc, it becomes headache to grasp the concept. What do the terms "phase shift" and "phase spectrum" mean in ...
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1answer
107 views

Laplace-Beltrami vs d'Alembert operators in flat vs curved space-time

I am confused with the difference between Laplace-Beltrami (LB) and d'Alembert operators in flat/curved space-time. d'Alembert operator in flat space-time (Minkowski) is defined as $$\Box= ...
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1answer
121 views

What is the precise definition of “cadence” in astronomy?

I'm finding it difficult to find a precise definition of "cadence" in astronomy. This term is commonly used to describe the data of astronomical surveys. For instance, one of the data products for the ...
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3answers
90 views

Does lithium-6 “decay” when hit by a neutron?

I am talking about the nuclear reaction $$ ^6\text{Li} + n \rightarrow\ ^4\text{He} +\ ^3\text{H} + 4.78\text{MeV} $$ A neutron hits a lithium-6 nucleus and together they form an alpha and triton ...
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3answers
102 views

What is nuclide notation referring to? Only the nucleus or the whole atom?

sorry that this is an easy question but I am just a bit confused about nuclide notation. When you say e.g. $^{240}_{94}\text{Pu}$, are you referring to the atom of $\text{Pu}$ or only its nucleus? It ...
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2answers
55 views

What does excitation in an atom mean?

This is not regarding the definition of excitation itself. What I'm having trouble with is the difference between "electron excitation" and "atom excitation". When I electron inside the atom gets ...
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1answer
40 views

How to compute phases of the signals?

Let us take 4 signals which are sinusoidal and periodic. Suppose you are given a phase spectrum or (/and) equation of the (main) signal only and you are said that the given (main) signal is formed of ...
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1answer
38 views

What does “interact via strong force” mean?

I was just wondering if the words "strong force" and "strong interaction" are interchangeable? Also, these are referring to "strong nuclear force", correct? Then what does it mean for particles to ...
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1answer
74 views

What is space charge and how to calculate it?

I want to clarify the meaning of space charge. What I know is that the space charge is the total charge in a small region in space. I really confuse this in the ion beam context. Many text book says ...
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2answers
48 views

Why does one call $B$ the magnetic induction?

When one studies electrostatics we have the electric field $\mathbf{E}$. This object usually is introduced as a field produced by a configuration of charges such that the force on another charge $Q$ ...
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0answers
34 views

What is the correct terminology for a “symplectic covariant” equation?

A Lorentz covariant equation is one that takes the same form even when a Lorentz transformation is applied to each variable. Lorentz covariance is generally made manifest by writing the equation with ...
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2answers
151 views

What are global and local gauge invariance defined as they are?

I'm sorry for the triviality of my questions. Why is $\bar{\psi} = e^{i \theta}\bar{\psi}$, where $\theta$ is a real number, used as the global gauge transformation? Why $e^{i \theta}$; what's the ...
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1answer
94 views

What's the difference between “Ohmic dissipation”, “Joule heating”, “ion drag” and “resistive heating”?

The following terms are sometimes used to refer to ... more or less ... the same thing by different people and in different contexts (electronic circuits vs. plasma physics, etc.): Ohmic ...
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2answers
233 views

What is third cosmic velocity?

I have been studying Gravitation chapter and there I found one term : Third cosmic velocity which is also known as interstellar speed. So what is it ? What it really tells about? I tried to gather ...
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2answers
101 views

Making sense out of covariance and contravariance

I just read about co- and contravariant vectors and I am not sure that I got it right: If we imagine that we have a n-dimensional manifold $M$ then a tangent space is spanned by the vectors ...
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1answer
426 views

Is there a difference between Electric and Electrostatic Field?

Is there a difference between Electric and Electrostatic Field? All I know is that they both represented with same law suppose we have a Charge placed at the Origin: ...
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1answer
90 views

Second law of thermodynamics (in terms of entropy)

Is the second law of thermodynamics (in terms of entropy) for closed systems or isolated systems? I thought it must be valid for isolated systems, such as the Universe. But the book Fundamentals of ...
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1answer
113 views

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?