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

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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 ...
7
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1answer
127 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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3answers
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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2answers
897 views

Do generators belong to the Lie group or the Lie algebra?

In Physics papers, would it be correct to say that when there is mention of generators, they really mean the generators of the Lie algebra rather than generators of the Lie group? For example I've ...
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1answer
2k 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
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Differences between symmetric, Hermitian, self-adjoint, and essentially self-adjoint operators

I am a physicist. I always heard physicists used the terminology "symmetric", "Hermitian", "self-adjoint", and "essentially self-adjoint" operators interchangeably. Actually what is the difference ...
6
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3answers
277 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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2answers
933 views

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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2answers
162 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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2answers
413 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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520 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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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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1answer
150 views

Group representations as vectors and isomorphism between weights and matrix generators

This might be something basic, but it is unclear to me. So I am used to work with representations of groups as matrices. These matrices represent the structure of the Lie algebra by satisfying the ...
6
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1answer
97 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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0answers
215 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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2answers
335 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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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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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 ...
5
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1answer
199 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 $c$ ?
5
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2answers
670 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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4answers
3k 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
207 views

Nomenclature of hadronic resonances

I have the Particles Physics Booklet and I noticed that the resonances that decay into a nucleon and pion are indicated by an abbreviation. For example $P_{33}$ is associated to the $\Delta (1232)$ ...
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2answers
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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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104 views

What does memorylessness mean as a postulate of special relativity?

I was reading the wiki page on special relativity postulates. And wiki says, The two-postulate basis for special relativity is the one historically used by Einstein, and it remains the starting ...
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2answers
434 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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3answers
462 views

What is a “measure equation” as mentioned by this TeX Users Group guide?

In this TeX Users Group (TUG) document, Typesetting mathematics for science and technology according to ISO 31/XI by Claudio Beccari, the author makes various typesetting recommendations including: ...
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4answers
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Torque vs Moment

I was wondering, why in Newtonian physics torque is called "torque" while in static mechanics they call it "moment"? I prefer by far the term "torque", for not only it sounds strong, but also ...
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1answer
263 views

Nomenclature of radial solutions to the Schrodinger Equation

For the free particle with quantum number $l=0$, the regular solution to the radial Schrodinger equation is $R_0 (\rho)=\frac{\sin{\rho}}{\rho}$ while the irregular solution is $R_0 ...
5
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1answer
74 views

Is there an established standard for naming exoplanets?

I understand that exoplanets are named by adding a lowercase letter to the a designation of the planet's parent star or stellar system, beginning with 'b' (the star itself is 'a') in order of ...
5
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1answer
110 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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1answer
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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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151 views

Showing that Coulomb and Lorenz Gauges are indeed valid Gauge Transformations?

I'm working my way through Griffith's Introduction to Electrodynamics. In Ch. 10, gauge transformations are introduced. The author shows that, given any magnetic potential $\textbf{A}_0$ and electric ...
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1answer
59 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
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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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284 views

What's the difference between “evidence of a new particle” and “discovery of a new particle”?

Today’s exciting press release from Tevatron on the Higgs boson keeps its head cool and say that physicists saw a “hint” of the Higgs boson because the signal is barely above the two-sigma level. In ...
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3answers
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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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2answers
125 views

Is the “dimension” in dimensional analysis the same as the “dimension” in “three spatial dimensions”?

When we talk about the dimension of a quantity (e.g. the dimension of acceleration is$[ L \ T ^ {-2}]$) are we talking about the same "dimension" as when we talk about three dimensional space? Are ...
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2answers
9k views

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 ...
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2answers
121 views

What is it called when a fluid will “jump” to grab onto an object that comes very close?

I'm doing an experiment where I bring a probe very close to a well full of fluid and then very slowly lower it to obtain some force deformation values. The material behaves very much like a fluid and ...
5
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1answer
527 views

What is the name of the temperature limit beyond which an explosion will form a mushroom cloud?

Many months ago I saw a picture that was taken many years ago of an explosion, possibly in the Atlanta area. If I recall the explosion was caused by fuel in railroad cars. However, the explosion ...
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2answers
637 views

The definition of “frequency” in different contexts

I have been doing some research on all kinds of sound-related topics lately and have been a bit confused by the different uses of the term "frequency". Of course, the most general meaning of frequency ...
5
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1answer
55 views

Vacuums and free space

Do physicists use the terms "vacuum," "quantum vacuum," and "free space" synonymously? For example, I have read that based on conservation arguments, the spontaneous splitting of a photon into an ...
5
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1answer
76 views

Meaning of the 'deep lattice limit' and 'shallow lattice limit'?

In condensed matter literature, at many places, the phrase 'deep lattice limit' is used. Please tell what is the deep lattice limit and the shallow lattice limit?
5
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1answer
367 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 ...
5
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0answers
118 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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3answers
735 views

Definition of a year

Is there an acceptable definition of a year (in number of days)? Google Calculator: https://www.google.com/search?q=seconds+in+1+year returns 3.15569e7 seconds and then ...
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2answers
532 views

What is a single word that describes the idea of the second time derivative of energy?

I think about position, its time derivative speed, and its second time derivative, acceleration. I would like to identify a single word that can be used as a handle for the second time derivative of ...
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3answers
278 views

What is “A” in AGeV?

AGeV means GeV per nucleon. But why A letter is used for such a short cut? Why not NGeV, for example?
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585 views

Nomenclature: Yang-Mills theory vs Gauge theory

If you're writing about a theory with Yang-Mills/Gauge fields for an arbitrary reductive gauge group coupled to arbitrary matter fields in some representation, is it best to call it a Yang-Mills ...