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

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Why is it called “annihilation”?

The term "annihilate" literally means "turn into nothing". However, when a particle and antiparticle collide, they clearly do not turn into nothing; they simply transform into different particles. ...
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4answers
9k views

What is a correct and simple definition of quantum physics?

Is it correct to define Quantum Physics as the study of Physics in sub-atomic scale? Does Quantum Physics studies something else other than sub-atomic phenomena? This may be a very stupid question ...
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1answer
475 views

Definition of mean free time in the Drude model

In the Drude model they derive a formule for the conductivity of a conductor. I wonder though how the main free time $\tau$ is defined in this formula. Wikipedia says that it is "the average time ...
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1answer
323 views

Moose Models (Purpose, Examples)

A problem set for my QFT class is titled "Moose Models" and deals with the moose model for a gauge symmetry of $U(1)\times U(1)$. I was wondering if I could get an explanation of what a Moose Model ...
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4answers
745 views

What is the term for hose fluctuating movements during flow?

What do we call it when water flowing through a flexible hose causes it to act like snake movements if the hose were disturbed? Can this movement be explained by the Coriolis force?
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1answer
210 views

Regular solution vs irregular solution

My Quantum Mechanics textbook (John S. Townsend's A Modern Approach to Quantum Mechanics) mentions regular solutions and irregular solutions. It claims that regular solutions (at the origin) to the ...
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1answer
254 views

Why do astronomers call all elements heavier than helium “metals”?

I understand that a scientific term need not be constrained by its etymology. But is there some significant reason why astronomers choose to call all elements heavier than helium "metals"? Are ...
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1answer
492 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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2answers
472 views

What are threshold corrections?

As the title goes, what are threshold corrections in quantum field theory? In particular, I would be glad if a good reference is provided. Standard QFT books such as Peskin, Weinberg, etc seem to ...
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1answer
8k views

What is the difference between Radiation and Electromagnetic Radiation

Are the two equivalent or is Electromagnetic Radiation a subset of Radiation. I am further confused by the fact that electromagnetic radiation includes both ionizing and non ionizing types of ...
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1answer
69 views

In GR what is a “source-frame mass”?

In the recent LIGO paper, "GW150914: First results from the search for binary black hole coalescence with Advanced LIGO, (LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration)", they refer to the ...
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2answers
129 views

Definition of Duality (opposed to Symmetry)

I'm learning basic string theory right now and we came across T-duality which was presented as a symmetry of the formula for the mass of a string in the context of compactification. There was a remark ...
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4answers
8k views

Catapult vs. Trebuchet

I have been looking at trebuchet designs lately, and I have noticed that most, if not all, have a sling attached to them. Without such a sling, the machine would be a catapult. In terms of the speed ...
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1answer
13k views

What is Convective acceleration of flow velocity?

I know that $\frac {dv}{dt}=a$ is acceleration, but: What is convective acceleration of a flow velocity? What is difference between $(v\cdot \nabla) v$ and $v\cdot (\nabla v)$?
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3answers
4k views

What is the meaning of the word “Principle” in Physics?

What is the meaning of the word principle in Physics? For example in the "action principle". Is it an action law, an action equation, or an unproved assumption? (I have an idea what an action is). ...
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2answers
771 views

Where do the terms microcanonical, canonical and grand canonical (ensemble) come from?

Where do the terms microcanonical, canonical and grand canonical (ensemble) come from? When were they coined and by whom? Is there any reason for the names or are they historical accidents?
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1answer
307 views

What's the difference between the diffeomorphism invariance and reparametrization invariance?

Can somebody tell me what's the difference between the diffeomorphism invariance and reparametrization invariance?
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1answer
170 views

Why “colours” of light are given in wavelength not frequency?

If I understand correctly, when a beam of (monochromatic) light passes through media of different refractive indices, its wavelength changes but frequency remains constant. Why, then, are colours of ...
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2answers
106 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 ...
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2answers
230 views

Definition of quantum anharmonicity

I have been reading research papers in mathematical physics for some months now, and I've seen the the term "anharmonic oscillator" quite frequently. At first I assumed that given a Schrodinger ...
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2answers
204 views

Why is it tension in surface tension?

Why is it called surface tension not surface compression?
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4answers
3k views

Work done by the Magnetic Force

The magnetic part of the Lorentz force acts perpendicular to the charge's velocity, and consequently does zero work on it. Can we extrapolate this statement to say that such a nature of the force ...
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1answer
69 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 $...
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2answers
197 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 ...
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1answer
124 views

Hot Big Bang vs. Big Bang

This should hopefully be a quick one. Is there any difference between the Big Bang Theory and the Hot Big Bang Theory? Around Cambridge I hear everyone using "Hot Big Bang Theory", for example ther ...
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2answers
92 views

What S means in S-duality?

As I know, there are many dualities related to S-duality. For example, Montonen-Olive duality, Seiberg duality. and so on. so, I wonder that what "S" means in the term "S-duality". If this is a stupid ...
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1answer
541 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 ...
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1answer
143 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 ...
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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
95 views

Is the phrase “coupling constant” interchangable with “ strength of interactions”?

Can I use the terms coupling constant and strength of interactions, interchangeably, or are there more subtleties to the term coupling constant that I am not aware of? Coupling Constants from ...
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4answers
2k views

What is the Difference between a Lepton and a Fermion?

As the Title Says: I am Wondering what the Difference between a Lepton and A Fermion is. I know they both have an ½ integer spin number e.g. a electron, an atom with an odd mass number such as Helium-...
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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
9k views

What is a virtual ground?

What is a virtual ground? I would like to know what it is.
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4answers
12k 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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4answers
2k views

Newton's first law: is his concept of (force of ) inertia still useful and used?

The force of inertia is the property common to all bodies that remain in their state, either at rest or in motion, unless some external cause is introduced to make them alter this state. That is ...
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299 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
21k 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
261 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
1k 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
1k 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
861 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
277 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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1answer
310 views

What is the meaning of “moment”?

What is the meaning of moment? I'm little confused about the word as there are some terms like moment of momentum, moment of mass, moment of force, etc. I want to know what exactly is meant by the ...
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1answer
82 views

Uses of effective action and effective potential

Effective potential allows us to answer the question that whether there will be spontaneous symmetry breaking induced by quantum corrections. Is there any other information that can be extracted from ...
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4answers
106 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
99 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
1k 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
19k 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
166 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 $\{\partial_\rho\}_{\...