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

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How do the terms comet, asteroid, meteoroid, meteor and meteorite differ?

These terms are frequently used interchangeably by the uninitiated to mean approximately “space rock”. In practical terms, how do their meanings differ?
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5answers
2k views

Is speed an intensive property?

I remember being taught in elementary physics that while it makes sense to add volumes, masses, or heat, it makes no sense to add temperatures. As I wanted to use that to illustate some other issue, ...
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4answers
7k views

Are quantum mechanics and quantum physics the same field?

What is the difference between quantum mechanics and quantum physics?
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3answers
626 views

Is a “shift in the meaning” of Accuracy and Precision occurring?

Accuracy and precision are among the most fundamental concepts in experimental physics, and, I always believed, completely unambiguous. Recently I found that the Wikipedia article on Accuracy and ...
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4answers
425 views

What does “carry a representation” mean (in SUSY algebra)?

I come from a maths background and am struggling with some of the more physical texts on SUSY. In particular they claim that the fermionic generators $Q_A^i$ carry a representation of the Lorentz ...
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3answers
32k views

What is difference between homogeneous vs isotropic material?

When we say a material is isotropic? When properties such as density, Young's modulus etc. are same in all directions. If these properties are direction dependent, then we can say that the material is ...
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1answer
422 views

Does a ball resting on the ground have acceleration?

Does a ball resting on the Earth's ground have acceleration caused by gravity?
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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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What is “pure energy” in matter-antimatter annihilation made of?

I used to read the term "pure energy" in the context of matter-antimatter annihilation. Is the "pure energy" spoken of photons? Is it some form of heat? Some kind of particles with mass? ...
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3answers
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What sets a “Law” apart from a “Rule” or a “Principle”? [duplicate]

Basically, I understand the difference between a "Theory" and a "Theorem" but I am quite confused when it comes to "Law", "Rule" and "Principle". Can you make the differences clear to me?
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105 views

Do days and months on the Moon have names?

On Earth we have various calendars, for example, Days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc., etc. Months: January, February, March Does the Moon have names for its "daily" rotations, etc.? It sounds ...
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2answers
421 views

What is the difference between “additive” quantum numbers and “multiplicative” quantum numbers?

What is the difference between "additive" quantum numbers and "multiplicative" quantum numbers? I think that this may have something to do with P and C Symmetry groups, but I may be mistaken. I’m ...
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3answers
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How is a bound state defined in quantum mechanics?

How is a bound state defined in quantum mechanics for states which are not eigenstates of the Hamiltonian i.e. which do not have definite energies? Can a superposition state like ...
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2answers
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What is a non linear $\sigma$ model?

What exactly is a non linear $\sigma$ model? In many books one can view many different types of non linear $\sigma$ models but I don't understand what is the link between all of them and why it is ...
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3answers
19k views

What is the official difference between a planet and a dwarf planet?

I'm trying to understand how objects are classified as planets, moons, or dwarf planets. Can someone please explain the differences between them? I'm really curious about why Pluto is a dwarf planet, ...
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2answers
829 views

What is a gauge in a gauge theory?

As I study Jackson, I am getting really confused with some of its key definitions. Here is what I am getting confused at. When we substituted the electric field and magnetic field in terms of the ...
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2answers
10k 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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1answer
936 views

Constructive vs Algebraic Quantum Field Theory

I am interested to know how the (non)existence theorems of constructive QFT and algebraic QFT are related (or not). I have only a weak grasp of either, so I'm looking for something like a quick ...
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3answers
675 views

Fiducial volume in collider/detector physics

I'm trying to make some sense of ATLAS measurements for a personal project to learn how to use Pythia, and part of my work requires me to recreate the distribution for Z boson decay. I encountered the ...
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1answer
792 views

What does “tagging” mean in experimental high energy physics?

Could someone explain in details the meaning of the terminology "tagging" in experimental high energy physics and how is it used in the analysis?
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1answer
584 views

Numerical schemes, time integration algorithms and energy conservation

What does it mean when someone says a numerical scheme or a time integration algorithm is "energy conserving". How can a numerical scheme "gain" or "lose" or "conserve" energy apart from the numerical ...
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1answer
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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
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In layman's terms, what is a quantum fluctuation?

What causes it and how does it occur? If you do post some mathematics, please explain what each term means too please.
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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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2answers
846 views

History of the names “Feynman-gauge” & “Landau-gauge”. How arised & how settled?

Warning: Students, stay away from antiquities. The aim to learn is to survive. Hi. Today the nomenclatures Feynman gauge and Landau gauge seem established, but could you explain the history? It's ...
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1answer
155 views

Has the Nobel committee mixed up this years prizes for Physics and Chemistry? [closed]

The title of the question is tongue-in-cheek but the question remains: How does the Nobel committee delineate the fields when awarding work which is of such an inter-disciplinary nature. The chemistry ...
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1answer
911 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
202 views

The role of anharmonic oscillator(s) in Heisenberg's 1925 paper

I am talking about the most famous paper of Heisenberg, which I know from the translation of van der Waerden (Sources in Quantum mechanics, North Holland, 1967). After introducing matrix mechanics ...
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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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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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5answers
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Why are electromagnetic waves called waves even though they don't travel through a medium?

If waves are defined as the oscillation of a medium, why are electromagnetic waves called waves as they do not need a medium to travel through?
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3answers
834 views

What is meant by a “c-number”?

In Chapter 2 of David Tong's QFT notes, he uses the term "c-number" without ever defining it. Here is the first place. However, it's easy to check by direct substitution that the left-hand side ...
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4answers
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What is a peryton?

It is a bit hard to find an accessible explanation online. I find the word "peryton" in some papers about radio astronomy, here's one example: http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.05245 I don't think they refer ...
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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 ...
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1answer
4k views

Eigenfunctions v.s. eigenstates

Is there a difference between "eigenfunction" and "eigenstate"? They seem to be used interchangeably in texts, which is confusing. My guess is that an "eigenfunction" has an explicit ...
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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
298 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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2answers
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Amplitude of Probability amplitude. Which one is it?

QM begins with a Born's rule which states that probability $P$ is equal to a modulus square of probability amplitude $\psi$: $$P = \left|\psi\right|^2.$$ If I write down a wave function like this ...
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1answer
140 views

Why are “quadratures” called this way?

In quantum optics (and hence also cv quantum information), given the annihilation and creation operators of the electromagnetic fields $a$ and $a^{\dagger}$, the "position" and "momentum" operators ...
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2answers
177 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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3answers
1k views

What are the differences between indistinguishable and identical?

What is the difference between indistinguishable particles and identical particles?
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3answers
3k views

What's the difference between “boundary value problems” and “initial value problems”?

Mathematically speaking, is there any essential difference between initial value problems and boundary value problems? The specification of the values of a function $f$ and the "velocities" ...
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1answer
76 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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2answers
1k views

What's the difference between work in thermodynamics and mechanics?

What is the difference between work in thermodynamics and work in mechanics?
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Convective and Diffusive terms in Navier Stokes Equations

My question has 2 parts: I just followed the derivation of Navier Stokes (for Control Volume CFD analysis) and was able to understand most parts. However, the book I use (by Versteeg) does not ...
6
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1answer
353 views

What does “P-wave” mean when referring to a particle?

In scattering theory, P wave means $l=1$, where $l$ is the azimuthal quantum number. However, what does P wave mean when referring to particle states? For example, in this paper (arXiv link), the ...
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1answer
127 views

What is “kinematic inversion” (from geophysics) in mathematical terms?

I am a mathematician working on a seismic imaging problem, and am currently (attempting to) read some geophysics papers (this one (Ruiz, Madariaga 2011) and this one (Di Carli, Francois-Holden, ...
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445 views

Is Parity really violated? (Even though neutrinos are massive)

The weak force couples only to left-chiral fields, which is expressed mathematically by a chiral projection operator $P_L = \frac{1-\gamma_5}{2}$ in the corresponding coupling terms in the Lagrangian. ...
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0answers
225 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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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?