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

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1answer
67 views

Why is the specific notation used for term symbols useful?

This has bugged me for a long time. Term symbols describe electronic states of atoms which have well-defined total electronic angular momentum $J$ as well as total spin and orbital angular momenta ...
4
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2answers
167 views

Rigorous distinction between quasiparticles and collective excitations

I would like to hear your opinion on the question whether there is an accepted distinction between both concepts in condensed matter physics. I would tend to use the word quasiparticle for dressed ...
4
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1answer
427 views

What do you call the period after sunrise when the sky is bright?

At sunrise, the sky isn't actually up in the sky yet. Twilight occurs before sunrise, then at sunrise the leading part of the sun crosses the horizon. But, the sky isn't bright yet. It takes some time ...
4
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1answer
140 views

Is symplectic form in Hamiltonian mechanics a physical quantity?

Is symplectic form $dp_i \wedge dq_i$ in Hamiltonian mechanics a physical quantity? It feels to me to be something different than say energy, momentum or mass. Like just certain structure. The real ...
4
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1answer
2k views

What phrases describe collisions with coefficients of restitution less than zero or greater than one?

The coefficient of restitution describes the elasticity of a collision: 1 = perfectly elastic, kinetic energy is conserved 0 = perfectly inelastic, the objects move at the same speed post impact ...
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0answers
39 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 ...
4
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0answers
108 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 ...
4
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1answer
926 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 ...
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4answers
1k views

Is there a difference between Hertz and 'frames per second'?

It's not uncommon that the term 'frames per second' (sometimes abbreviated as fps or FPS) is associated with, or even equated to, the unit Hertz (Hz). I'm not exactly sure how these two concepts ...
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3answers
8k views

What is a virtual ground?

What is a virtual ground? I would like to know what it is.
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2answers
495 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 ...
3
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2answers
749 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 ...
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4answers
10k views

What is the difference between air pressure and atmospheric pressure?

I know that air pressure and temperature are inversely proportional. Now I saw in a book that "Atmospheric pressure decreases as we go higher and higher." But at greater heights the temperature ...
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3answers
295 views

What is a “Center Of Mass” issue of a Gorillapod?

I read somewhere that a Gorillapod may have "Center Of Mass" issues when used with the long lenses. So, I wish to understand what is a "Center Of Mass" issue? I have to clarify that I am NOT a ...
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4answers
19k views

What is the difference between a moment and a couple?

In mechanical engineering, the torque due to a couple is given by $\tau = P\times d$, where $\tau$ is the resulting couple, $P~$ is one of the force vectors in the couple and $d$ is the arm of the ...
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3answers
226 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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3answers
910 views

What's the difference between “numerical methods” & “mathematical analysis” as said by Feynman in his lectures?

While reading his lectures, I came to these lines: On the basis of Newton's second law of motion,which gives the relation between the acceleration of any body & the force acting on it,any ...
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2answers
904 views

Is Hubble's constant really constant? [duplicate]

How does Hubble's constant resembles age of universe? Isn't universe getting old each day? How can a constant be a reciprocal of age of universe? Hubble's value must be variable, isn't it?
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3answers
812 views

What does “nearly infinite mass” mean?

I am sure this is a silly question, but I was reading something that described the pre big-bang universe as having "nearly infinite mass." How can something be "nearly" infinite? The term seems to ...
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4answers
2k views

What is pure energy?

Inside the core of a star thermonuclear fusion reaction fuses hydrogen atom into helium releasing massive heat/light and energy.When a black hole eats up enough stars and gases it devours itself by ...
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1answer
271 views

Why have $n$, $\ell$, $m_\ell$, $m_s$ been picked as quantum number symbols $\mathbf{\text{in this order}}$?

I’m learning about electron configurations and don’t quite understand why $n$, $\ell$, $m_\ell$, $m_s$ have been picked as symbols for the quantum numbers. As far as I understand it, the principal ...
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4answers
101 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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4answers
92 views

Measurement in reciprocal metres

I'm trying to name a measurement that is measured in reciprocal length, which is in a draft document for vehicle risk management. It currently says: ...
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3answers
912 views

What is the difference between manifest Lorentz invariance and canonical Lorentz invariance?

I often read that the Lorentz symmetry is manifest in the path integral formulation but is not in the canonical quantization - what does this really mean?
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2answers
17k views

Are all metals good conductor of electricity?

I am writing an article for kids, which is on conductors and insulators of electricity. If I make a statement that "All metals are electrical conductors and all non-metals are electrical insulators" ...
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1answer
107 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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1answer
136 views

The spin and weight of a primary field in CFT

A primary field in Conformal Field Theory transforms as $$\phi (z,\bar{z}) =\left(\frac{dz}{dz'} \right)^h \left(\frac{d\bar{z}}{d\bar{z}'} \right)^\bar{h}\phi (z',\bar{z}') $$ under a conformal ...
3
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1answer
77 views

What is a Nyquist edge?

I've come to this sentence and I don't understand the term Nyquist edge. Because observing in the FM band is not feasible, a sampling frequency of 200 MHz has been chosen for most of the receiver ...
3
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1answer
292 views

Does effective theory have the same meaning in particle and condensed matter physics

I have a naive question about the meaning of effective theory in particle physics and condensed matter physics. In particle physics, from what I know, the effective theory comes from the Wilsonian ...
3
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1answer
213 views

What the name of the evacuated glass gadget with black and white vanes that turn when a light is applied?

I remember a glass device my physics teacher had at high school which Contained some vanes mounted somehow on a vertical axis, which were all black on one side and white on the other Was in a ...
3
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1answer
639 views

What is “charge discreteness”?

I assume it is some kind of quantity. Google only made things more confusing. I get that it has something to do with circuits. I also get what a discrete charge is. In fact, I thought charges ...
3
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1answer
9k views

Is there a name for the derivative of current with respect to time, or the second derivative of charge with respect to time?

This measurement comes up a lot in my E&M class, in regards to inductance and inductors. Is there really no conventional term for this? If not, is there some historical reason for this omission? ...
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1answer
129 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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2answers
248 views

Covariant derivative applied to a vector vs. applied to a matrix?

I know there are (say) two different definitions/representations of the covariant derivative: one is the covariant derivative applied to a vector $F$, which reads as $$DF=\partial F+iAF$$ ...
3
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2answers
892 views

What is an “Interaction Hamiltonian”

I'm an undergraduate reading up on some quantum physics so that I can help out more in the lab that I'm working in this summer. In the book I'm reading (Shankar's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics") I ...
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4answers
11k views

What is the difference between a pulse and a wave?

I wanted to ask what is the difference between a pulse and a wave? According to the definitions of them, they are almost the same. In the websites I looked at, the difference between them was ...
3
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1answer
83 views

A (mundane) CS analogy for quantum teleportation

From my limited understanding of quantum entanglement, it seems like qubits act the same way as pseudo-random-number-generators (except as far as we can tell, these ones really are random). When you ...
3
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1answer
219 views

How did neodymium magnets get their name?

Like in the question. Why neodymium magnets (Nd2Fe14B) are called "neodymium magnets"? Why not boron magnets? Or iron magnets?
3
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1answer
158 views

Is it better to call the doppler effect a change in wavelength or frequency?

Why is it preferable to say that the doppler effect causes a shift in frequency rather than a shift in wavelength? I often read on websites that they define the doppler effect as a change in ...
3
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1answer
111 views

Neutral current: terminology

In particle physics, where does the term 'neutral current' originate? An example would be an electron exchanging a Z boson with another electron. I understand that the Z boson itself is neutral, but ...
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4answers
3k views

Is 'restoring force' a particular type of force?

I have a question about the restoring force in elastic band or rope which confusing me for a long time. As I was told in high school physics, for an elastic band (or spring), if Hooke's law holds, we ...
3
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1answer
620 views

What is the origin of the naming convention for position functions?

In physics, position as a function of time is generally called d(t) or s(t). Using "d" is pretty intuitive, however I haven't ...
3
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1answer
70 views

What is the difference between a quasar and an Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN)?

In answering another Phys.SE question about quasars - Why no new quasars? - an issue arose about which object is the nearest quasar. That got me puzzled. To what is the label "quasar" attached, as ...
3
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1answer
363 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 ...
3
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1answer
119 views

What does 'channel' mean?

I see many plots like the following that graph counts per channel, I know what a 'count' is, but I don't know what a 'channel' is. Could somebody please explain to me? My guess is that it is that ...
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2answers
6k views

Differences between astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology? [closed]

What is the main difference between Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Cosmology? I have the impression that astronomy is a subject that runs parallel to physics but it is outside the physics field. This ...
3
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1answer
198 views

Is there a scientific term for star formation?

It might be my stupidity to think that many laymen terms that most people use to describe some physics phenomena usually have a scientifically accepted term or name? The process of star formation, ...
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2answers
724 views

What's the difference between hopping and tunneling?

My professor made a distinction between electron hopping (the closest wikipedia had an article on) and tunneling, saying that one (he didn't say which, but I assume hopping) was temperature dependent ...
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1answer
158 views

Use of the term first order dependency

In a question I am doing it says: Show explicitly that the function $$y(t)=\frac{-gt^2}{2}+\epsilon t(t-1)$$ yields an action that has no first order dependency on $\epsilon$. Also my textbook ...
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2answers
93 views

The word 'sector' in Particle Physics

What exactly is meant when one uses the word sector in Particle Physics? As in, the Hidden Sector or the Electroweak Sector. Does it refer to a specific part of the Lagrangian? Or does it refer to ...