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

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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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2answers
213 views

Representations of Lie algebras in physics

Why is an invariant vector subspace sometimes called a representation? For example in Lie algebras, say su(3), the subspace characterized by the highest weight (1,0) is an irreducible representation ...
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3answers
697 views

Opposite of Cryogenics

Cryogenics is related to very low temperatures, so, what is the term when referring to very high temperatures?
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827 views

What the difference between “orbital” and “orbit”?

What's the difference between "ortibal" and "orbit"? Which one should be used in physics? In quantum mechanics, is "atomic orbital" or "atomic orbit" used? And what about in classical mechanics? A ...
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3answers
963 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 ...
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2answers
145 views

May molecules of ideal gases have an inner structure?

The following question is probably very elementary: whether molecules of ideal gases may have optic properties? As far as I understand, when one discusses optic properties, one assumes that molecules ...
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4answers
782 views

what is it called: box potential with one infinite wall

The finite square well and the infinite square well problem are well known, however is there a reason that there is almost no reference to the one sided infinite square well? Consider a particle ...
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2answers
62 views

Where does the term “boost” come from for rotation-free transformations?

I had never seen rotation free transformations called "boosts" (I think I have it right) before reading some questions here. I'm too old perhaps. I have not found the etymology after some searching, ...
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2answers
103 views

Terminology for opposite null lines

Is there a name for two null lines that lie on the opposite sides of the null cone? Each line can be obtained from the other by reflection in the axis of the null cone (the time-axis). In terms of ...
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1answer
408 views

Why are the quarks so named?

Quarks have a variety of names (or flavours): Up Down Strange Charm Bottom or Beauty Top or Truth Why do they have such odd names?
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110 views

Configuration manifolds and constraints

In Classical Mechanics there's this notion of configuration manifold. Although I've heard about that a lot and although I often use that concept, I'm not sure I really understand them well because ...
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2answers
136 views

Why is the Faraday Tensor derived from the Lorentz force?

If we start from the Lorentz force, $$\textbf{F}=q\textbf{E} +q\textbf{v}\times\textbf{B}$$ and use the four velocity u$^{\mu}$ and the four momentum p$^{\nu}$, then we get to ...
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1answer
116 views

Since when the term 'mass' is being used in physics?

I was wondering who used the term 'mass' in physics and in what context? The Online Etymology Dictionary says it is in use since 1704. According to the Wiki article the year is contemporary to the ...
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1answer
173 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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2answers
205 views

Curved space or curved spacetime?

As I understand it, you can have time + flat space = curved spacetime. So, when one is trying to emphasise that there is a curvature to the space, is it more technically correct to say curved space ...
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3answers
6k views

What is the difference between Raman scattering and fluorescence?

What is the difference between Raman scattering and fluorescence? Both phenomena involve the emission of photons shifted in frequency relative to the incident light, because of some energetic ...
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3answers
450 views

What does physics study? [closed]

Wikipedia definition: Physics (from Ancient Greek: φύσις physis "nature") is a natural science that involves the study of matter[1] and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such ...
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1answer
250 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 ...
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1answer
2k views

What is “Quantum Levitation”?

I just found this video Controlled Quantum Levitation on a WipeOut Track and I'm having a hard time finding the term "Quantum Levitation" used except in reference to the video. What is the proper ...
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1answer
84 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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3answers
107 views

What is the work done against a force?

Suppose a particle travels a path $\gamma : I\subset \mathbb{R}\to \mathbb{R}^3$ subject to a force $\mathbf{F}: \mathbb{R}^3\to T\mathbb{R}^3$, then we know that we define the work done by the force ...
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124 views

Why “Dark Energy” is called energy instead of force?

The overly simplified explanation I'm giving myself right now is dark energy causes the opposite of what gravity does, that's why the universe is expanding. Now where gravity is a force, why dark ...
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1answer
138 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
183 views

Question about physical principles [duplicate]

How are principles created i.e. how is it decided that something qualifies as principle? What is the difference between a principle, a law and a theory? Were there any principles that were proved to ...
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3answers
322 views

Weightlessness by a parabolic flight

Do you actually achieve weightlessness during a parabolic flight? Because I believe I heard somewhere did you achieve 'near-weightlessness' and not 'weightlessness' (if this is true, why is this?) ...
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2answers
1k views

What is the difference between parallel universe and multiverse?

What is the difference between parallel universe and multiverse? Is it parallel universe or universes?
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388 views

Should the term Watt's Law be used?

I'm revising some electrical curriculum for a technical training program. In the curriculum students have to calculate values using Ohm's law and the equation Power = Current * Voltage (or P = IV). ...
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71 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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2answers
24 views

Meaning of SIS in accelerators

With reference to accelerator facilities, the term "SIS" is often used. e.g. SIS-100, SIS-300 etc. What does SIS stand for, in this context? (The last S is probably for Synchrotron) Google appears ...
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1answer
299 views

Is the 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 ...
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95 views

Conservation laws and continuity equations

I'm a bit messed up with conservation laws and continuity equations. This is my understanding: A conservation law describes that a physical quantity $G$ is conserved with time. It does not prevent ...
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2answers
76 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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1answer
88 views

What does it mean for a metric to be regular?

A problem in Carroll (a general relativity textbook) asks if a certain metric is regular. What does it mean for a metric to be regular?
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1answer
93 views

Ramsey Interactions

What are Ramsey interactions? I am researching atomic clocks and am not sure why the atoms need to be exposed twice to an electromagnetic field in order to cause excitation.
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3answers
1k 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
2k views

What is the difference between Quantum Physics, Quantum Theory, Quantum Mechanics, and Quantum Field Theory?

What is the difference between Quantum Physics, Quantum Theory, Quantum Mechanics, and Quantum Field Theory? Are they the same subject? I believe that they are not the same subject! Maybe there is not ...
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1answer
100 views

Term for “atmospheric ricochet” due to wrong “angle-of-attack”

I watched "Apollo 13" yesterday, and they had the "angle-of-attack" problem that had to be manually solved, to prevent the ship from "ricochet[ing] off the atmosphere like a rock skipping off a pond". ...
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1answer
259 views

How does one pronounce this particle's name?

How would you read the following particles' names in a conversation in English? I am looking for some "proper" way of doing it. Say, imagine you are reading a technical description in a semi-formal ...
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3answers
590 views

Definition of Fluctuations and Perturbations

The terms fluctuations and perturbations are frequently used in physics with different meanings. But they are confusing. Both terms seems to be same. Is there any one who can explain lucidly these ...
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1answer
250 views

Why is a gaussian fixed point called gaussian?

I know what a gaussian fixed point is, and I did read the wikipedia entry, but it wasn't helpful. It says because the probability distribution is gaussian, but what probability distribution?
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2answers
241 views

What is deep Fresnel region?

If I understand correctly, it has something to do with autocorrelation function, but can someone give me a definition or exact explanation? In case of scattering, if you wish to analyze pattern with ...
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1answer
148 views

What does “single inclusive” mean exactly?

I thought I knew what single inclusive scattering was, but today when I went to look up a definition to check my memory, I couldn't find one. A Google search yielded no shortage of papers that use the ...
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1answer
52 views

Are there more distinctive names of “null curves” with certain additional properties (absence of “chord curves”)?

In this answer (to the question "In general relativity, are light-like curves light-like geodesics?", PSE/q/76170) a particular example of a curve is discussed whose "tangent is everywhere null" and ...
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60 views

In terms of physics, does the phrase “time slows down” mean the same thing as “things happen more slowly?”

The common definition of "time" is a type of measurement, like size. But the sentence "size gets bigger" doesn't make any sense. Is "time slows down" an odd phrasing of "events occur more slowly" or ...
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1answer
60 views

What is a 'height field'?

I encountered a few times the expression of 'height fields' in statistical physics, without ever reading a proper definition. My textbooks don't seem to talk about that, and googling it hasn't been ...
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2answers
150 views

Quantum Philosophy a la John Bell

I recently discovered this website http://www.quantumphil.org/ and wondering whether Quantum Philosophy is an actual field, or just an aspect of QM? Apologies if this is in the wrong place.
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1answer
115 views

Name for thermodynamic derivative $dP/dT|_V$?

While trying to express the isoentropic sound speed as partial derivatives of $V$ and $T$ only I end up, as part of the longer expression with $dP/dT|_V$ (which according to a Maxwell relation is the ...
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2answers
703 views

What does it mean to be stationary?

I'm looking for a simple answer. What do we regard a stationary. Do we mean an object that is not moving noticeable from the viewers perspective because then a parked car would be considered ...
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1answer
105 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
163 views

Is shear elasticity the same as shear modulus?

I've encountered both the terms "shear elasticity" and "shear modulus". Are these the same?