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

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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
164 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 ...
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3answers
3k views

Direction of motion

What does the term direction of motion actually mean? Is it a direction where a particle is moving or the direction of its velocity? For example, what is the direction of motion of a projectile in ...
3
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1answer
84 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 ...
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1answer
313 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 ...
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1answer
215 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 ...
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1answer
737 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 were,...
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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
10k 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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3answers
88 views

What is “normal” about normal frequencies and normal modes in coupled oscillations?

So, my question is what does the "normal" part mean when one talks about normal frequencies and normal modes in coupled oscillations. Does it have to do with the normal coordinates that one uses when ...
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1answer
36 views

Can anyone please explain the meaning of vector resonances in the scenario of particle physics?

I was reading some material on Particle physics and I came across the sentence: pseudoscalar D and B meson states and the corresponding vector resonances D* and B*. What are vector resonances? ...
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358 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 $$DF=\partial F+iAF$$ (...
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1k 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
15k 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 ...
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1answer
86 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 ...
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1answer
231 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?
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2answers
193 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 frequency....
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116 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
4k 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 ...
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1answer
746 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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106 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 ...
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1answer
586 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 ...
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1answer
497 views

What is meant by a “stiff” or “soft” equation of state (wrt neutron stars)?

I am currently trying to understand the history of the development of the equations of state and structure of neutron stars. In my textbook, I frequently encounter phrases such as "The ...
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1answer
177 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
9k 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 ...
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1answer
267 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
1k 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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187 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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1answer
265 views

Why is the projective symmetry group (PSG) called projective?

As discussed by Prof.Wen in the context of the quantum orders of spin liquids, PSG is defined as all the transformations that leave the mean-field ansatz invariant, IGG is the so-called invariant ...
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2answers
102 views

How is the set of displacement operators best called?

Displacement operators $\hat D(x,p), \ \ x,p\in\mathbb{R},$ follow a composition rule $$D(x,p) D(x',p') = \exp\frac{i(px'-xp')}2 D(x+x',p+p').$$ Because of the extraneous phase factor, the set of all ...
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1answer
1k views

What is a bilateral constraint?

In the realm of mechanics/rigid body dynamics, can anyone tell me what a bilateral constraint is? Can't seem to find any information on the exact definition, just uses of it such as "considering only ...
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1answer
246 views

What's a pseudo-rotation?

I'm sorry for this lexical, probably extremely elementary, question. But what is a pseudo-rotation? I just read this term for the first time, in the beginning of the 4th chapter book of CFT by Di ...
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2answers
92 views

The meaning of 'coupling'?

In quantum mechanics if two quantities $A$ and $B$ are said to be coupled what does this actually mean? I would guess that it means we have a term like $A\cdot B$ in the Hamiltonian but this is only ...
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2answers
85 views

What exactly is an arbitrary parameter?

I was reading the article Turning Points: A meeting with Enrico Fermi by Freeman Dyson (available e.g. here), and I had a question about Dyson's use of the term 'arbitrary parameter'. More ...
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2answers
84 views

Heuristic explanation of the difference between vectors and scalars in physics

I'm trying to give a student a (physically) intuitive, heuristic explanation as to why certain quantities are vectors and others are scalars. Here is what I have come up with: Scalars are quantities ...
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2answers
381 views

What is a self adjusting force?

What is a self adjusting force? I searched it everywhere on internet but not got my answer and I have no other source to get its answer except this site so please help me.
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3answers
519 views

Is it time or duration? [closed]

Taking this post: "Is there a proof of existence of time?", as a starting point. Therein was mentioned that there is confusion between: "time" and "flow of time". There was a comment (of mine) that ...
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1answer
117 views

Is there a technical term for “meaningfulness” of mathematical operations?

Is there a technical term for "meaningfulness" of mathematical operations? For example, adding vectors that represent forces has a meaning regardless of the coordinate frame, but an elementwise ...
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2answers
185 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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143 views

What is the space between galactic arms called?

Is there a term referring to space that is inside the plane of a galaxy, but not part of the center/bar/arms/spurs, etc? What's the filler called? The space between two spiral arms (if it isn't a ...
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1answer
85 views

What does “sites” mean in the lattice language?

I acknowledge that this question is quite trivial. But in the lattice jargon, what does a $N$-sites lattice mean? it's a lattice $N\times N$ or it's a lattice with $N$ vertices? another option ...
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9k 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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2answers
2k views

What is Dalitz decay?

What is Dalitz decay? I know there are Dalitz $\pi^0 \to e^+ + e^- + \gamma$ decay, $w \to \pi^0 + e^+ + e^-$ decay, may be more. But is there a rule to say which decay is Dalitz and which is not? ...
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172 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
185 views

Quadrature in quantum optics

I am reading a chapter about Squeezed state, and came across this word, quadrature, which I have never seen before in the book. Here is the quote from that chapter. " A general class of minumum-...
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1answer
474 views

What's the difference between “Ohmic dissipation”, “Joule heating”, “ion drag” and “resistive heating”?

The following terms are sometimes used to refer to ... more or less ... the same thing by different people and in different contexts (electronic circuits vs. plasma physics, etc.): Ohmic ...
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1answer
402 views

What is the difference between a magnon and a spinon?

For a long time, I thought the terms "magnon" and "spinon" were equivalent, describing the collective spin excitation in a system. Lately, I have seen remarks in the literature that they indeed do ...
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170 views

What is a point transformation?

This problem comes from Goldstein. What does $s=e^{\gamma t}q$ mean? Do I just put $q=e^{-\gamma t}s$ into the Lagrangian? But I don't know what that means. I think the point transformation may ...
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115 views

Supersymmetry definition

Can someone outline the difference between supersymmetry and supersymmetric quantum mechanics? I often hear the two used interchangeably but I'm almost certain they are not the same.
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483 views

What is meant by Proton Structure Function?

I am going to embark on a project involving deep-inelastic scattering but first I am trying to do some really basic background reading to get me up to task. My only background in particle physics is ...