Questions tagged [conventions]

A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted norms. It typically helps common efficiency or understanding but is not required, as opposed to a strict standard or protocol.

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9
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4answers
1k views

Is the number 1 a unit?

In dimensionless analysis, coefficients of quantities which have the same unit for numerator and denominator are said to be dimensionless. I feel the word dimensionless is actually wrong and should be ...
-1
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1answer
948 views

Why Counterclockwise starts from East?

In vector lessons, we have counterclockwise angle of rotation of the vector starts from East. "The direction of a vector is often expressed as a counterclockwise angle of rotation of the vector about ...
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3answers
345 views

In which direction should flow of electric current be taken while solving problems?

Consider a simple circuit with a battery of $\theta\ \text V$s, and two resistors of $R_1 \ \Omega$s and $R_2\ \Omega$s connected in series. Let us assume that $R_1$ is connected nearer to the ...
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2answers
1k views

Should we necessarily express the dimensions of a physical quantity within square brackets? [duplicate]

For example, should we write the dimension of mass, e.g. $\mathrm{kg}$ as $[M]$ or is it enough to write it as $M$?
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3answers
181k views

What is the sign of the work done on the system and by the system?

What is the sign of the work done on the system and by the system? My chemistry book says when work is done on the system, it is positive. When work is done by the system, it is negative. My physics ...
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3answers
22k views

What does “clockwise” mean, exactly? [closed]

I am in the middle of a discussion with a friend about the meaning of the term "clockwise". Wikipedia indicates that a clockwise rotation goes as top-right-down-left. However, my friend argues that "...
4
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5answers
14k views

Sign convention in optics

Why is the sign convention used in the derivation of the lens formula and yet used again when it is applied in numerical problems? Won't the whole idea of sign convention be eliminated if it is used ...
3
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1answer
4k views

Thermodynamic cycles, when is the work negative/positive?

ever since I begun calculating thermodynamical cycles, I've had problems with determining the sign of the work along a particular bit of the cycle. Of course, I guess that an arbitrary cycle is 'bendy'...
11
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1answer
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Who (and Why) started the “electrons are negative, protons are positive” convention? [duplicate]

For some reason everyone labels electrons using a minus sign and protons using a positive sign, even though the opposite seems more intuitive: Who started the convention that electrons should be "...
0
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2answers
74 views

Is it incorrect to explain the direction of a coded vector quantity?

For example, let's say that in a linear physics problem, all the data are given to a certain direction, and coded positively for direction to the right. So +5m/s would be a velocity of 5m/s to the ...
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2answers
734 views

What is wrong with this form of the Maxwell-Faraday equation?

What is wrong with this form of the Maxwell-Faraday equation? $$\oint \vec{E}\ \partial \vec l= \bigcirc \hspace{-1.4em} \int \hspace{-.6em} \int \frac{\partial \vec B}{\partial t}$$ "Line integral ...
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2answers
879 views

How to reconcile the two definitions of work? (mechanical and thermodynamical)

When studying classical mechanics, work is defined as: $W_M=\int F_{tot} \hspace{2 mm} dx$. However, for thermodynamics, work is defined as: $W_T=\int -F_{ext} \hspace{2 mm} dx$. I'm having trouble ...
5
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1answer
286 views

Explicit form of $\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu$ in the Dirac equation

I'm in an introductory particle physics class, and in performing manipulations on the Dirac equation, my instructor expands the $\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu$ term as: $$\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu = \gamma^0 ...
41
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2answers
46k views

Difference between $\Delta$, $d$ and $\delta$

I have read the thread regarding 'the difference between the operators $\delta$ and $d$', but it does not answer my question. I am confused about the notation for change in Physics. In Mathematics, $\...
3
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4answers
5k views

Potential energy sign conventions

Almost every book on physics that I read have some weird and non-clear explanations regarding the potential energy. Ok, I do understand that if we integrate a force over some path, we'll get a ...
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6answers
14k views

Why is potential energy negative when orbiting in a gravitational field?

I had to do a problem, and part of it was to find the mechanical energy of satellite orbiting around mars, and I had all of the information I needed. I thought the total mechanical energy would be the ...
3
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1answer
445 views

Plane waves in QFT

Suppose we work in the metric $(-1,+1)$. How do we describe an incoming particle with a plane wave; $\exp(-\mathrm ikx)$ or $\exp(+\mathrm ikx)$? What's the difference? Does it change if we work in ...
6
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1answer
787 views

Sign crazyness on the stress energy tensor?

I would like to know on what depends the sign of the stress energy tensor in the following formula : $T_{\mu\nu}=\pm(\rho c^2+P)u_{\mu}u_{\nu} \pm P g_{\mu\nu}$ In my case the metric is equal to $g_{...
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2answers
1k views

What is the most natural value of Heaviside step function at zero argument?

In many physical applications, the Heaviside step fuction is defined as $$H(x) = \left\{\begin{eqnarray} 1, \quad x>0 \\ 0, \quad x<0 \end{eqnarray}\right.$$ The value $H(0)$ is left undefined. ...
12
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4answers
59k views

Why does the direction of a dipole moment go from negative to positive charge?

An electric dipole moment is defined as $p = q\times d$ (for two point charges $\pm q$ separated by a distance $d$). What is the physical meaning of this quantity? Why does the direction of the ...
5
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2answers
892 views

Inner Product Spaces

I am trying to reconcile the definition of Inner Product Spaces that I encountered in Mathematics with the one I recently came across in Physics. In particular, if $(,)$ denotes an inner product in ...
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2answers
624 views

Sign convention for basic Dirac equation

The dirac equation;$$(i\gamma^\mu\partial_{\mu} - m)\psi=0 $$ is just; $$(i\gamma^{0}\partial_{0} - i\gamma^{i}\partial_{i} - m)\psi=0 $$ in a (+,---) metric right?
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1answer
250 views

Sign Conventions for Dirac equation

Is it possible to have the Dirac sign convention, (-,+,+,+) and at the same time use the metric $$dt^2-dx^2-dy^2-dz^2$$ i.e have opposing Dirac and metric tensor conventions?
0
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1answer
458 views

Sign and Four-Acceleration Special Relativity

If I use $(+,-,-,-)$ sign convention then four position, four velocity become positive but four acceleration becomes negative! $$x_{\mu}x^{\mu}=\tau^2c^2,$$ $$U_{\mu}U^{\mu}=c^2,$$ $$a_{\mu}a^{\...
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4answers
48k views

How can you have a negative voltage?

How can you have a negative voltage? I don't really understand the concept of negative voltage, how can it exist?
6
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1answer
603 views

Can the overall sign of the Minkowski metric be changed?

If we take the Minkowski metric, $\eta_{\mu\nu}=(1,-1,-1,-1)$, instead of the usual $(-1,1,1,1)$, does this change the form of the Lorentz Transform? I think the standard Lorentz Transform looks like: ...
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1answer
134 views

When are leap seconds added in various time zones?

I understand that technically when a leap second is added, it is added after midnight UTC, but I'm unclear how the addition is handled in other timezones. For precise reckoning of course (e.g. ...
3
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1answer
3k views

Levi Civita Symbol and contravariance vs covariance

I have a question regarding the Levi-Civita symbol and contravariance vs covariance. Some of this was asked in a previous post, but I think I need more clarification. Consider the magnetic field: \...
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3answers
7k views

What is the difference between UT0, UT1 and GMT time?

Every reference I find says that they are "essentially" the same, which we all know really means that they are not the same, but different only by a some small amount that someone else other than me ...
2
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2answers
5k views

Why are different frequency bands used in different countries?

Why are different frequency bands used in different countries despite ITU's effort for a common frequency band use? There's got to be a reason behind this. For instance, U.S.-based Verizon Wireless ...
2
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1answer
4k views

Mutual Inductance and the Dot Convention

Can anyone please explain me, the dot convention in coil systems (Mutual and self inductance) with some related images to understand..?
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1answer
1k views

Dirac action and conventions

I have a (possibly) fundamental question, which is driving me crazy. Notation When considering the Dirac action (say reading Peskin's book), one have $\int dV\;\bar{\psi}\left(\imath\not\partial-m\...
3
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1answer
16k views

Direction of Potential Gradient & Electric field

Potential gradient is the negative of the electric field: $dV=-\vec{E}\cdot \operatorname{d}\!\vec{r}$ Does the negative sign mean that the direction of potential gradient $\operatorname{d}\!V\!/\!...
2
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3answers
6k views

Which one true in First law of thermodynamics: $Q = \Delta U \pm W = \Delta U \pm p\Delta V$ or $\Delta U= \Delta Q + \Delta W $?

Which one true in First law of thermodynamics: $Q = \Delta U \pm W = \Delta U \pm p\Delta V$? (where $\Delta U$ is change of internal energy, $W$ work made by system and $Q=cm\Delta T $ heat made by ...
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1answer
706 views

What's the common consensus on the meaning of “physical change”?

I'm doing a textbook problem that shows a "molecular level" view of some matter, little colored balls, before and after, and there are, among the four questions, two that say: 1) Did a physical change ...
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1answer
85 views

Is this phase right?

Hello at physics lectures we wrote a phase of a sine wave like this: $$\phi = kx - \omega t$$ Is this right? As I recall the phase of a wave should be written like this: $$\phi = \omega t - kx$$ ...
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4answers
12k views

When an object moves downward, is its height negative? [closed]

The question is: A ball is thrown directly downward with an initial speed of 8.00m/s from a height of 30.0m. After what time interval does it strike the ground. So I went through the problem and ...
11
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3answers
103k views

Thermodynamics - Sign convention

I use the sign convention: Heat absorbed by the system = $q+$ (positive) Heat evolved by the system = $q-$ (negative) Work done on the system = $w +$ (positive) Work done by the system = $w -$ (...
41
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1answer
4k views

Why is the partition function called ''partition function''?

The partition function plays a central role in statistical mechanics. But why is it called ''partition function''?
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1answer
1k views

Levi-Civita symbol in Euclidean space

Suppose a component of tensor field is described by $B^k=\varepsilon^{kij} \phi_{ij}$. If we define $B^k$ in an Euclidean space then does the rising or lowering of the indices of the Levi-Civita ...
3
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2answers
4k views

Euler angle: space-fixed vs body-fixed axes

I am sooo confused!! Between active and passive, intrinsic and extrinsic, vectors and basis .... Stipulate that we stick to active rotations only. Then Standard derivation of $R(\alpha, \beta,\...
0
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1answer
103 views

What does the latin letter mean in Bayer name of a star such as “$\Upsilon$ Andromedae $b$”?

What does the latin letter mean in Bayer name of a star such as the "$b$" in "$\Upsilon$ Andromedae $b$"? I tried in vain to look it up in Wikipedia or elsewhere on the Web.
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1answer
3k views

Is 4-volume element a scalar or a pseudoscalar in special relativity?

In general relativity 4-volume element $\mathrm{d}^4 x = \mathrm{d} x^0\mathrm{d} x^1 \mathrm{d} x^2\mathrm{d} x^3$ is clearly a pseudoscalar (or scalar density) of weight 1 since it transforms as $\...
9
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2answers
2k views

Why do we still not have an exact (constants-based) definition for a kilogram?

I read that there is an effort to define a kilogram in terms that can exactly be reproduced in a lab. Why has it taken so long to get this done? It would seem this should be fairly important. Edit: ...
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1answer
2k views

Conversion of the units BeV (US) and GeV (UN)

What is the difference in the definition of a billion electron volts in United states (US) and United Nations (UN)? When the US people say billion, do they mean $10^{12}$ or $10^9$?
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3answers
2k views

Why is 'the period' marked as letter T?

I'm not a native English speaker and I was wondering, why 'the period' got the letter $T$. I've asked myself the question when I was thinking about stuff related to the frequency. I.e.: $f$ - ...
5
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1answer
4k 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 been able to figure out why "s" is used as well. Is it possibly based ...
4
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3answers
2k views

How is Planck's law defined?

Now, I found three different definitions of Planck's law: $$ P_1(\nu,T) = \frac{8 \pi}{c}\frac{h \nu^{3}}{c^2} \frac{1}{e^{h\nu/kT}-1} $$ $$ P_2(\nu,T) = 2\frac{h \nu^{3}}{c^2} \frac{1}{e^{h\nu/kT}-1}...
2
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1answer
717 views

Is reflection just a particular case of scattering?

I was talking to a colleague about optical scattering from a metallic nanoparticle, and we had a very simple doubt. If you have a particle that's small compared to the illuminated area, you can use ...
2
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2answers
654 views

Point charge potential (sign problem)

I'm a bit embarrassed, but I'm not able to compute the electric potential at point $P$ (at a distance $R$ from the origin) generated by a positive unitary point charge in the origin with the right ...