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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

6
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the specific meaning of “Fourier frequency” (as opposed to simply “frequency”)?

I've noticed that many journal articles (in optics) use the phrase "Fourier frequency" to describe, well, the frequency of something. Google scholar search for "Fourier frequency". Example: ...
6
votes
1answer
394 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
132 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, Peyrat,...
6
votes
0answers
226 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 \...
5
votes
2answers
395 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?
5
votes
1answer
268 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
votes
3answers
2k views

What is a mode?

Admittedly, this seems like a very simple question. The word mode pops up in every field of physics, yet I can't remember ever having read what I felt was a precise and sensible definition. After ...
5
votes
2answers
216 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 $\Delta (1232)$ ...
5
votes
4answers
10k views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
199 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

What is phenomenological equation and phenomenological model?

I come across these terms in some papers. My understanding is that it is an equation or model describing a phenomenon. Usually, the equations are given and claimed to be true with only some ...
5
votes
3answers
646 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: ...
5
votes
1answer
276 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 (\rho)=\frac{\cos{\...
5
votes
2answers
579 views

What is the difference between Chiral anomaly, ABJ anomaly, and Axial anomaly?

I get confuse with these three terms: Chiral anomaly, ABJ anomaly, and Axial anomaly. I can not find standard definition of these three. Is there anyone can describe precisely?
5
votes
3answers
1k views

What are the differences between indistinguishable and identical?

What is the difference between indistinguishable particles and identical particles?
5
votes
1answer
87 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
votes
2answers
379 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
11k 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?
5
votes
4answers
3k views

Space-like and time-like: where do the names come from?

Space-like separated events are events that, in a well-chosen reference frame, can take place at the same time but never happen at the same location. On the other hand for time-like events, one can ...
5
votes
2answers
306 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
164 views

“Randomness” versus “uncertainty”

Highly rated PhysicsSE contributor @CuriousOne regularly makes the following claim about quantum mechanics (e.g. here): There is no randomness in quantum mechanics, there is only uncertainty. I ...
5
votes
2answers
469 views

$p\ dq$ is the “tautological” one-form?

The one-form $$\theta=\sum_i p_i\, \text dq^i$$ is a central object in hamiltonian mechanics. It has a bunch of applications: $\omega=\text d\theta$ is the symplectic structure on phase space, $S=\int\...
5
votes
2answers
144 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
135 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
votes
1answer
99 views

What is meant by a preliminary run at the LHC?

I am a bit confused over the meaning of "Preliminary run" when referring to the LHC experiments CMS and ATLAS. For example in this summary, Figure 2 refers to both the CMS $19.7\ \mathrm{fb^{-1}}$ ...
5
votes
1answer
146 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
227 views

What is a full cycle in damped oscillation?

Maybe it seems a dumb question, but I can't understand what the cycle in a damped oscillation is? Let's take an example: In harmonic motion, one cycle is the smallest distinguishable part of wave ...
5
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
849 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
votes
2answers
760 views

In interferometry, what is the origin of the name “Airy function”?

In interferometry (specifically, in the domain of Fabry-Perot cavities), the function $$f(\phi) = \frac{1}{1 + F \sin^2 \phi},$$ which describes the shape of the resonant structure of the cavity, is ...
5
votes
1answer
63 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
votes
1answer
99 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
votes
1answer
529 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
votes
1answer
111 views

What do we exactly mean by a “topological object” in physics?

I have been working on topological defects like monopoles, etc. for some time. One think that I have not been able to understand is the physical meaning of the phrase "topological object". I have ...
5
votes
1answer
213 views

Is there a specific name for the highest energy state in quantum mechanics?

In quantum mechanics, the lowest energy state is called the ground state. I am wondering if there is a name for the highest energy state? Should I call it the top state, or the ceiling state, or the ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Difference between inorganic and organic semiconductors: electronic structure or configuration, or?

Organic semiconductors differ from inorganic semiconductors. In organic semiconductors the molecules are held together by weak van der Waals interactions and in inorganic semiconductors by covalent ...
4
votes
3answers
807 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 https://www.google.com/...
4
votes
2answers
727 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
616 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
822 views

QFT Dyson series: why are we solving the Schrodinger equation?

In quantum field theory, the solution of the time evolution operator of the Schrodinger equation (in the interaction picture) is given by Dyson's series, which is used to calculate the S-matrix. Why ...
4
votes
3answers
380 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?
4
votes
2answers
584 views

What is the meaning of “CW” in LASER?

I am reading a user's manual, and the word appears here. At first, I think "CW" means "center wave". But later, I find that the meaning of "CW" is "continuous wave". It makes me confused. ...
4
votes
2answers
7k views

What's the difference between constitutive laws and governing equations?

I'm studying about the finite element method in a class but I don't come from a civil engineering background. Anyways, it hasn't been made clear to me what the difference between constitutive laws and ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

If an atom is fully ionized by removing all electrons, is it still an atom?

This is a question about terminology. To me, it's clear that the nucleus of an atom is still an atom. But a comment by Willie Wong at Is nature symmetric between particles and antiparticles? raises ...
4
votes
1answer
280 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
325 views

Defining left and right independent of a human body?

Is it possible to define right and left independent of the asymmetric human body? I am unable to think of such a definition without circular reasoning. Example: If you are facing east, your left ...
4
votes
4answers
3k views

Long/short-range interaction

A potential of the form $r^{-n}$ is often considered long-range, while one that decays exponentially is considered short-range. Is this characterization simply relative/conventional, or is there a ...
4
votes
2answers
615 views

Difference between locality and causality?

I ask this question as the two seem to be very closely related and are sometimes taken to be one and the same (in the notion of microcausality in QFT), which has left me confused as to what meaning of ...
4
votes
3answers
564 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 ...