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

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5
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1answer
676 views

Is there a difference between a postulate and a principle in physics?

Is there a difference between a postulate and a principle in physics? Both seem unproved statements taken as true. If thats correct, why the different names?
11
votes
8answers
7k views

What is the difference between electric potential, voltage and electromotive force?

This is a confused part ever since I started learning electricity. What is the difference between voltage and electromotive force (emf)? Both of them have the same SI unit, right? I would appreciate ...
5
votes
3answers
703 views

What sets a “Law” apart from a “Rule” or a “Principle”? [duplicate]

Basically, I understand the difference between a "Theory" and a "Theorem" but I am quite confused when it comes to "Law", "Rule" and "Principle". Can you make the differences clear to me?
8
votes
2answers
408 views

What does “the ${\bf N}$ of a group” mean?

In the context of group theory (in my case, applications to physics), I frequently come across the phrase "the ${\bf N}$ of a group", for example "a ${\bf 24}$ of $SU(5)$" or "the ${\bf 1}$ of ...
9
votes
4answers
376 views

Is the Lagrangian of a quantum field really a 'functional'?

Weinberg says, page 299, The quantum theory of fields, Vol 1, that The Lagrangian is, in general, a functional $L[\Psi(t),\dot{\Psi}(t)$], of a set of generic fields $\Psi[x,t]$ and their time ...
4
votes
3answers
541 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). ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

Differentiating Propagator, Greens function, Correlation function, etc

For the following quantities respectively, could someone write down the common definitions, their meaning, the field of study in which one would typically find these under their actual name, and most ...
17
votes
4answers
4k views

Are matrices and second rank tensors the same thing?

Tensors are mathematical objects that are needed in physics to define certain quantities. I have a couple of questions regarding them that need to be clarified: 1-Are matrices and second rank tensors ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Definitions: 'locality' vs 'causality'

I'm having trouble unambiguously interpreting many answers here due to the fact that the terms locality and causality are sometimes used interchangeably, while other times seem to mean very different ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

What came first, Rice Crispy or “Snap,” “Crackle,” and “Pop”? [closed]

The fourth, fifth, and sixth derivatives of position are called "Snap" "Crackle" and "Pop". What came first, the rice crispy characters, or the physics units?
16
votes
3answers
720 views

“Slightly off-shell”?

I'm not new to QFT, yet there are some matters which are quite puzzling to me. I often come across the statement that real particles (the ones we actually measure in experiments, not virtual ones) are ...
8
votes
2answers
343 views

Should it be obvious that independent quantum states are composed by taking the tensor product?

My text introduces multi-quibt quantum states with the example of a state that can be "factored" into two (non-entangled) substates. It then goes on to suggest that it should be obvious1 that the ...
3
votes
1answer
324 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
110 views

Where can I find the equations for “quasi” elastic collisions?

Yes, you all talk about neutrinos and spins, but I came out with this basic s**t :D All of us learnt the basic equations of collisions, elastic (everything bounces and energy remains the same), or ...
10
votes
8answers
1k views

What is the name of the principle saying it is meaningless to talk/ask questions that can not be measured/tested?

Watching quantum mechanics lectures and it was mentioned that it is pointless/meaningless to try to talk/question things that can not be tested/measured. Is this a principle? And if so what is it's ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

What's the difference between inclusive and exclusive decays?

For example, why is the semileptonic $B$ decay $B \to X\ell\nu$ inclusive? I can't find any definition of these frequently used terms, strange.
8
votes
3answers
15k views

What exactly is the difference between radiation and convection?

Okay, so everywhere I've read, I hear the main difference is the requirement of a medium. But for example, if you take the case of heat 'radiating' from a red-hot iron, isn't that actually convection ...
4
votes
2answers
384 views

What does a non-perturbative theory mean?

I'm a science writer and I'm having difficulty understanding what a non-perturbative approach means. I thought I understood what perturbative meant, but in looking for explanations of ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Differences between classical, analytical, rational and theoretical mechanics

Can you explain me what are the differences between the four following subjects? analytical mechanics rational mechanics classical mechanics theoretical mechanics
4
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3answers
526 views

Nomenclature: Yang-Mills theory vs Gauge theory

If you're writing about a theory with Yang-Mills/Gauge fields for an arbitrary reductive gauge group coupled to arbitrary matter fields in some representation, is it best to call it a Yang-Mills ...
3
votes
2answers
236 views

What are the differences between indistinguishable and identical?

What is the difference between indistinguishable particles and identical particles?
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3answers
2k views

Why is Higgs Boson given the name “The God Particle”?

Higgs Boson (messenger particle of Higgs field) accounts for inertial mass, not gravitational mass. So, how could it account for formation of universe as we know it today? I think, gravity accounts ...
2
votes
2answers
86 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
860 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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vote
2answers
271 views

Are the intersections of past and future light cones spacelike?

Given a timelike reference worldline (not necessarily geodesic), we can define light-cone coordinates $\tau^+$ and $\tau^-$ so that the 3-D hypersurfaces of constant $\tau^+$ are past light cones of ...
1
vote
1answer
691 views

What do physicists mean when they say “speed of light”?

Does it make sense to say, "The speed of light varies?" Some may say right off the bat "Yes, it changes as a wave passes through a different medium." However, I'd like to say no, because when I hear ...
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votes
2answers
727 views

What is “code” in “toric code”?

When I first heard people talking about using Kitaev's toric code to do topological quantum computation, I was thinking how many lines does the toric code have. Then I was told that the "code" really ...
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votes
2answers
993 views

Is Pauli-repulsion a “force” that is completely separate from the 4 fundamental forces?

You can have two electrons that experience each other's force by the exchange of photons (i.e. the electromagnetic force). Yet if you compress them really strongly, the electromagnetic interaction ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the difference between “boundary value problems” and “initial value problems”?

Mathematically speaking, is there any essential difference between initial value problems and boundary value problems? The specification of the values of a function $f$ and the "velocities" ...
2
votes
2answers
178 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
99 views

How to determine the order of indications of a clock?

Given the description of a clock $\mathcal A$, as (1) a set $A$ of all (more than 2) distinct indications of this clock, in no particular order (where the individual indications contained in set ...
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votes
5answers
11k views

What's the difference between Fermi Energy and Fermi Level?

I'm a bit confused about the difference between these two concepts. According to Wikipedia the Fermi energy and Fermi level are closely related concepts. From my understanding, the Fermi energy is the ...
5
votes
1answer
68 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
107 views

Which transformations are canonical?

Which transformations are canonical? Why do canonical transformations preserve the measure of integration in phase space?
1
vote
1answer
119 views

A terminological question about work and energy

Work is force applied over distance. Is it also reasonable to say that work is (the same thing as) the transfer of energy? When work is done, the equivalent energy is transferred. But if energy is ...
5
votes
1answer
658 views

What does the concept of phase space mean in particle physics?

I came across the concept of phase space in statistical mechanics. How does this concept come about in particle physics? Why was it introduced and how is it used? What does it mean when ...
3
votes
2answers
355 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?
2
votes
2answers
92 views

What distinguishes the particles we chose as matter from their antimatter equivalent? [duplicate]

Back before we knew about antimatter we just called everything matter. Ignoring CP-violation for a moment, there is nothing special about matter versus antimatter. Once we knew about antimatter it ...
2
votes
1answer
153 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
735 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
198 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
9k 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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2answers
240 views

Why are diffraction gratings not called interference gratings?

It seems to me that diffraction gratings are completely described by the double slit experiment-why then is it called a diffraction grating?
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1answer
45 views

What are “packets”?

Paraphrased from Wikipedia: Infrared sensing in snakes depends on a kind of natural thermography, by which tiny packets of cellular water are raised in temperature by the infrared radiation. ...
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3answers
763 views

Meaning of dimension

I was wondering what dimension can mean in physics? I know it can mean the dimension of the space and time. But there is dimensional analysis. How is this dimension related to and different from the ...
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votes
3answers
8k views

What is the difference between phase difference and path difference?

I have learnt that path difference is the difference between the distance travelled by two waves meeting at a point. If that is path difference,then how will one know what is phase difference and how ...