Physics Topics

101325 Pa
Standard atmospheric pressure.
24 hour satellite
A synchronous satellite of the earth.
Abbe Number
The ratio of refractivity to dispersion in an optical medium.
Ablate
To carry away.
Ablating Material
A material designed to provide thermal protection to a body in a fluid stream through loss of mass.
Absorb
To transform radiant energy into a different form, with a resultant rise in temperature.
Absorber
Material in a nuclear reactor that absorbs neutrons without reproducing them.
Absorption
Transformation of radiant energy to a different form of energy by the interaction of matter, depending on temperature and wavelength.
Absorption Band
A dark band in the absorption spectrum of a substance, corresponding to a range of wavelengths for which the substance absorbs more strongly than at adjacent wavelengths.
Absorption Lines
Dark lines in a spectrum that are produced when light or other electromagnetic radiation passes through a gas cloud or similar object closer to the observer.
Absorption Spectroscopy
A technique for determining the concentration and structure of a substance by measuring the amount of electromagnetic radiation the sample absorbs at various wavelengths.
Absorption Spectrum
The collection of wavelengths missing from a continuous distribution of wavelengths.
Acausal
If a system is acausal it means the output begins before the input.
Accelerating Electrode
An electrode in an electron tube which is maintained at a positive potential with respect to the cathode and any other electrodes situated between the cathode and the accelerating electrode, thus imparting acceleration to electrons in the direction away from the cathode.
Accelerating Grid
An accelerating electrode in the form of a grid.
Accelerator
A machine used to accelerate particles to high speeds.
Accelerator Valve
A thermionic valve employed as a particle accelerator.
Acceptor
An atom which is likely to take on one or more electrons when placed in a crystal.
Accretion
The process by which the terrestrial planets grew.
Accretion Disc
An accretion disc is a disc-shaped rotating mass formed by gravitational attraction.
Accuracy
Accuracy is the correctness of a single measurement.
Acoustic Microscopy
A general term referring to the use of high resolution, high frequency ultrasonic techniques to produce images of surface or near surface features.
Acoustics
From the Greek akouein ( "to hear") a term sometimes used for the science of sound in general.
Acquisition
The process of locating the orbit of a satellite or trajectory of a space probe so that tracking or telemetry data can be gathered.
Actinic
Pertaining to electromagnetic radiation capable of initiating photochemical reactions.
Actinic Ray
A ray of light of short wavelengths, as ultraviolet or violet, that produces photochemical effects.
Actinometer
An actinometer is an instrument for measuring heat radiation.
Actinometry
The science of measurement of radiant energy.
Action
Refers to an effective motion or mechanism as for example the breech action of a gun.
Active Satellite
A satellite which transmits a signal, in contrast to passive satellite.
Active Sun
The Sun during its 11-year cycle of activity when spots, flares, prominences, and variations in radio frequency radiation are at a maximum.
Activity
The rate at which a collection of radioactive nuclei decay.
Additive Colour System
An additive colour system is a colour reproduction system in which an image is displayed by mixing appropriate amounts of red, green and blue light, as for example in a cathode-ray tube.
Additive Primaries
Red, green, and blue are the primary colours of light from which all other colours can be made.
Adhesive Force
The attractive force exerted on a liquid molecule by the molecules in the surface of the solid.
Adiabat
A line on an indicator diagram that represents an adiabatic process.
Adiabatic Ionization Energy
The lowest energy required to remove an electron from an atom, ion, or molecule in the gas phase.
Adiabatic Plasma
Part of plasma confinement system which involves particles where the orbit radius and orbit period are small compared to the characteristic scales of length and time.
Adsorption
The adhesion of a thin film of liquid or gas to the surface of a solid substance.
Aeolipile
A round vessel caused to rotate by the force of tangentially escaping steam: an early example of jet propulsion.
Aeolotropy
Aeolotropy is the antithesis of isotropy.
Aerodynamics
Lists all Aerodynamics topics in the Encyclopaedia
Aerolite
A stony meteorite, composed primarily of silicates.
Aerolithology
The science of aerolites - stony meteorites.
Aeronomy
The study of the upper regions of the atmosphere where ionization, dissociation, and chemical reactions take place.
Aether
An invisible medium that was thought to suffuse all space.
After Image
An image seen after the eye′s retina has been exposed for a time to an intense or stationary light source.
Afterheat
The heat generated in a reactor core after shutdown by continuing radioactive decay of fission products.
Agonic Line
A line joining points at which the magnetic variation is zero.
Agravic
Or pertaining to a condition of no gravitation.
Air Capacitor
A capacitor, which uses air as the dielectric between the plates.
Air Equivalent
A measure of the effectiveness of a material in absorbing nuclear radiation, expressed as the thickness of an air layer (at 0°C and 1 atmosphere) causing the same absorption.
Air Pressure
The force exerted by the weight of the atmosphere of the Earth.
Air Spring
A simple mass on an air spring.
Airflow
A flow or stream of air.
Airflow Resistance
The quotient of the air pressure difference across a specimen divided by the volume velocity of airflow through the specimen. The pressure difference and the volume velocity may be either steady or alternating.
Airfoil
A structure designed to obtain a useful reaction on itself in its motion through the air.
Airy Disc
A pattern of illumination caused by diffraction at the edge of a circular aperture.
Albedometer
An instrument used for the measurement of the reflecting power, the albedo, of a surface.
Alfven, Hannes
Swedish plasma physicist who won the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work developing the theory of magnetohydrodynamics.
Alfven Waves
Waves moving perpendicularly through a magnetic field.
Aliasing
The erroneous interpretation of high-frequency signals as lower-frequency signals.
Alidade
That part of an optical measuring instrument comprising the optical system, indicator, vernier, etc.
Allobar
A form of an element that has isotopic abundances that are different from the naturally occuring form.
Allomer
Substances with different chemical composition but the same crystalline form.
Allotropy
The reversible phenomenon by which certain metals may exist in more than one crystal structure.
Alloy
A metal produced by mixing other metals.
Alpha
The first letter of the Greek alphabet.
Alpha Particle
The nucleus of helium consisting of two protons and two neutrons.
Alpha Radiation
A stream of alpha particles. Alpha rays rapidly dissipate their energy as they pass through materials, and are far less penetrating than beta particles and gamma rays.
Alternating Current
An electric current whose direction changes direction with a frequency independent of circuit components.
Altitude
Height in space of an object or point relative to sea level or ground level.
Alvarez, Luis Walter
American physicist who produced free protons with a particle accelerator.
Ambient Environment
The conditions characterizing the air or other medium that surrounds materiel.
Ambient Temperature
The average temperature of the surroundings.
Ammeter
Instrument for measuring the current in amps, milliamps or microamps.
Amor Asteroids
Have orbits that cross the orbit of Mars and approach Earth′s orbit.
Amorphography
The branch of science concerned with the determination of amorphous solid structures and their systemmatic classification.
Amorphous
Non-crystalline, without long-range order.
Ampere-Turn
The magnetomotive force developed by 1 ampere of current flowing through a coil of one turn.
Amplitude
The maximum distance from the equilibrium position that occurs in periodic motion.
Analogue
Any representation of a physical quantity in terms of a continuous variation of a second physical quantity.
Analyser
An Analyser is another name for a secondary polariser in an optical system.
Anemometer
A sensor that measures wind speed.
Aneroid Barometer
An instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure consisting of an evacuated container with a flexible wall.
Angle of Incidence
Angle between direction of motion of waves and a line perpendicular to the surface the waves are striking.
Angle of Reflection
Angle between direction of motion of waves and a line perpendicular to surface the waves are reflected from.
Angle of Refraction
The angle at which a refracted ray of energy leaves the interface at which the refraction occurred.
Angstrom
It is an old unit used for measuring the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation including visible light and X-rays.
Angular Displacement
The amount of rotation of a point, line, or body in a specified direction about an axis.
Angular Momentum Quantum Number
A quantum number that labels the subshells of an atom.
Anisotropic
Unequal physical properties along different axes.
Annihilation
A process in which a particle meets its corresponding antiparticle and both disappear.
Annual Aberration
The component of stellar aberration resulting from the motion of the Earth about the Sun.
Anode
The electrode where electrons are lost (oxidized) in redox reactions.
Anomalous Dispersion
A sudden change in the refractive index of a material for wavelengths in the vicinity of absorption bands in the spectrum of the material.
Anthropic Principle
Principles describing what conditions are necessary for the development of intelligent life.
Antibonding Molecular Orbital
Also known as Antibonding Orbital.
Antistatic
Of or pertaining to the ability to either prevent the accumulation of or to enable the dissipation of static charge.
Aphelion
The point in a planet's orbit furthest from the Sun.
Apocentre
The point on a spacecraft′s orbit at which it is furthest away from the body it is orbiting.
Apogee
Maximum altitude of a rocket above a reference plane, typically mean sea level.
Apollo Asteroids
Have orbits that cross the Earth′s orbit.
Apostilb
A unit of surface luminance used when defining diffusing surfaces equal to 1 lumenm-2
Apparent Horizon
Where the shy appears to meet the Earth.
Apparent Power
That power apparently available for use in an ac circuit containing a reactive element. It is the product of effective voltage times effective current expressed in volt-amperes. It must be multiplied by the power factor to obtain true power available.
Arago Spot
A bright spot that appears in the shadow of a uniform disc being backlit by monochromatic light emanating from a point source.
Archimedes
Forever to be known for the Archimedean principle: "a body plunged in a fluid loses as much weight as... "
Archimedes′ Principle
The buoyant force is equal to the weight of the displaced fluid.
Aristotle
A Greek philosopher who stressed the importance of direct observations in securing facts and data.
Arjuna Asteroids
Asteroids that orbit the Sun in a near circular path and are no more than 100m in diameter.
Armature
In a relay, the movable portion of the relay. The windings in which the output voltage is generated in a generator or in which input current creates a magnetic field that interacts with the main field in a motor.
Armature Losses
Copper losses, eddy current losses, and hysteresis losses that act to decrease the efficiency of armatures.
Armature Reaction
The effect in a dc generator of current in the armature creating a magnetic field that distorts the main field and causes a shift in the neutral plane.
Artificial Gravity
Gravity established within a space vehicle by rotation or acceleration.
Artificial Satellite
A man made satellite.
Artificial Transmission Line
An LC network that is designed to simulate characteristics of a transmission line.
Astable
A circuit that has no stable state and thus oscillates at a frequency dependent on component values.
Asterism
A group of stars which are traditionally imagined to represent a pattern.
Asteroids
These are rocky bodies, the vast majority of which orbit the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.
Astigmatism
An aberration, or defect, in a mirror or lens that causes the image of a point to spread out into a line.
Astrolabe
An instrument that was used to determine the altitude of objects in the sky.
Astronomical Unit
Defined as the mean distance of the Earth from the Sun.
Astronomy
The generic name for the study of the universe around us.
Astrophysics
The physics of astronomical objects such as stars and galaxies.
Asynchronous Orbit
One where the satellite does not rotate or move at the same speed as the earth.
Aten Asteroids
Have orbits that lie inside the Earth′s orbit.
Atmometry
The science of measuring the rate at which water evaporates.
Atmosphere
The gases around a planet or star.
Atmospheric Pressure
Atmospheric pressure is the force exerted by the weight of the atmosphere of the Earth at ground level.
Attenuation
The reduction of a physical quantity.
Attenuation of Sound in Air
The attenuation of sound in air at 20°C due to viscous, thermal and rotational loss mechanisms is 1.6E-10f²dB/m.
Atto
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-18
Attraction
The force that tends to make two objects approach each other.
Atwood′s Machine
A weight-and-pulley system devised to measure the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth′s surface
AU
Defined as the mean distance of the Earth from the Sun.
Aufbau Principle
An approximate procedure for writing the ground state electronic configuration of atoms.
Aurora
A faint visual phenomenon associated with geomagnetic activity, which occurs mainly in the high-latitude night sky.
Aurora Borealis
Latin for Northern Dawn, an old name for the Aurora.
Auroral Kilometric Radiation
Intense radio waves whose wavelength is of the order of a kilometre, emitted from regions above the ionosphere where the aurora is accelerated.
Avalanche
A cumulative ionization process.
Average Speed
The distance traveled divided by the time taken.
Averaging
In any process it is often necessary to average a number of measurements to gain any confidence in the measured value.
Avogadro′s Law
Equal volumes of an ideal gas contain equal numbers of molecules, if both volumes are at the same temperature and pressure.
Avogadros Number
N = 6.022045x1023 mol-1
Axial Load
A load applied along or parallel to and concentric with the primary axis.
Axis
The line, real or imaginary, passing through the centre of an object about which it could rotate; a point of reference.
Azimuth
In land navigation it is defined as a horizontal angle measured clockwise from a north base line or meridian.
Azimuthal Quantum Number
Also known as Angular Momentum Quantum Number.
Backscattering
Primary radiation deflected or secondary radiation emitted in the general direction of the incident radiation beam.
Balmer Series
A series of lines in the emission spectrum of hydrogen that involve transitions to the n=2 state from states with n>2.
Band Spectrum
An emission spectrum that contains groups of sharp peaks that are so close together that they are not distinguishable separately.
Bandwidth
The bandwidth of a filter is the separation between the lower and upper frequencies at which the amplitude of a sinusoidal signal is attenuated by a factor of 2.
Barometer
A device for measuring atmospheric pressure.
Barometric Pressure
The total pressure exerted by the atmosphere.
Baromil
The unit of length used in graduating a mercury barometer in the centimetre-gram-second system.
Barretter
A type of bolometer characterized by an increase in resistance as the dissipated power rises.
Bartels Rotation Number
The serial number assigned to 27-day recurrence periods of solar and geophysical parameters.
Barycentre
This is the centre of gravity of 2 or more masses.
Base Terminal
That electrode of a transistor which compares generally to the grid of a vacuum tube.
Battery
A device for converting chemical energy into electrical energy.
Battery Capacity
The amount of energy available from a battery. Battery capacity is expressed in ampere-hours.
bcc
Abbreviation of body centred cubic. About 15% of all the elements crystallize into this structure.
Beam Steering
The method of steering the main lobe of a transducer to a certain direction.
Beam Width
The width of the main beam lobe, in degrees, of the transducer. It is usually defined as the width between the "half power point" or "-3dB" point.
Bearing Resolution
Ability of a radar to distinguish between targets that are close together in bearing.
Beats
Periodic fluctuations that are heard when sounds of slightly different frequencies are superimposed.
Bells′ Inequality
A quantum mechanical theorem which demonstrates that quantum mechanics must have nonlocal properties.
Bhabda Scattering
Scattering of positrons by electrons.
Big Bang Theory
A theory that suggests that the universe started with a giant explosion.
Bimetallic Strip
Two metals with different thermal expansion coefficients are bonded together and wound into a spiral.
Binary
Pertaining to a characteristic that involves the selection, choice, or condition in which there are only two possibilities.
Binding Energy
The amount of energy required to take a nucleus apart.
Biot-Savart Law
A law describing the magnetic flux density at a distance r away from an electrical conductor.
Black Box
A unit whose output is a specified function of the input, but for which the method of converting input to output is not necessarily specified.
Black Hole
A massive star that has collapsed to such a small size that its gravitational force is so strong that not even light can escape from its 'surface'.
Blackbody
A hypothetical body that absorbs without reflection all of the electromagnetic radiation incident on its surface.
Blackbody Radiation
The electromagnetic radiation emitted by an ideal black body.
Blackett, Patrick Maynard Stuart
English chemist who developed the cloud chamber.
Blanking Distance
Minimum sensing range in an ultrasonic proximity sensor.
Blue Shift
The apparant (Doppler) shift of the wavelength towards the higher frequency region of radiation emitted by an approaching object.
Blue Supergiant
A supergiant star with spectral type O or B.
B-meson
One of the heaviest mesons, containing a bottom quark.
Body Centred Cubic
About 15% of elements crystallize with a body centred cubic structure.
Bohr Magneton
b = 9.27x10-24 Am2
Bohr, Niels
While at Copenhagen University, Bohr, in 1922, won the Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services in the investigation of the structure of atoms and of the radiation emanating from them."
Bohr Radius
a0 = 5.291772x10-11 m
Boiling
The rapid vapourization of a liquid, which occurs when a liquid is heated to its boiling point, the temperature at which the vapour pressure of the liquid is equal to the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding environmental pressure.
Boiling Point
The temperature at which the vapour pressure of a liquid is equal to the external pressure on the liquid.
Boiling Point Elevation
The boiling point of a solution is higher than the boiling point of the pure solvent.
Bolide
A brilliant meteor, especially one which explodes, a detonating fireball.
Bolometer
A device for measuring minute amounts of radiant energy.
Boltzmann′s Constant
Constant named after Stefan Boltzmann. Used in the determination of energy radiation from bodies.
Bond Order
In Lewis structures, the number of electron pairs shared by two atoms.
Bonding Energy
The energy required to separate two atoms that are chemically bonded to each other.
Born, Max
Won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his fundamental research in quantum mechanics.
Bottom
The flavor of the fifth quark.
Bottoming
A transistor in the fully conducting state.
Bow Shock
The shock wave caused by the edge our Solar System travelling through deep space.
Boyle, Robert
Known for that scientific law named after him.
Boyles Gas Law
For a fixed mass of gas at constant temperature the product of pressure and volume is constant.
bp
Abbreviation of boiling point, the temperature at which the vapour pressure of a liquid is equal to the external pressure on the liquid.
Brackett Series
The series which describes the emission spectrum of hydrogen when the electron is jumping to the fourth orbital.
Bragg′s Law
A relationship that stipulates the condition for diffraction by a set of crystallographic planes.
Breaking Stress
Also known as the ultimate tensile strength. This is the maximum stress that can be applied to a material.
Bremsstrahlung
X-rays emitted when a charged particle (such as an electron) is decelerated by passing through matter.
Bremsstrahlung Effect
The emission of electromagnetic radiation as a consequence of the acceleration of charged elementary particles.
Brewsters Law
Unpolarised light can be polarised by reflection. When unpolarised light is reflected from the surface of an optical material (glass, say) then preferential reflection occurs for the electric-field vector that is perpendicular to plane of incidence.
Bright Field Imaging
A imaging mode in a TEM that uses only Unscattered Electrons to form the image.
Broadside Array
An array in which the direction of maximum radiation is perpendicular to the plane containing the elements.
Broglie, Louis-Victor de
He demonstrated mathematically that electrons and other subatomic particles exhibit wavelike properties.
Brown Dwarf
These straddle the domain between stars and giant planets.
Brown, Robert
Discovered the brownian movement of minute particles.
Brownian Motion
Small particles suspended in liquid move spontaneously in a random fashion.
Bubble Chamber
A chamber filled with liquid at low pressure chosen so that small bubbles form along the path of any charged particle.
Bulk Modulus
The bulk modulus of a gas is a measure of its compressibility (elastic property).
Buoyant Force
The upward force exerted by a fluid on a submerged or floating object.
Burgers Vector
A vector that denotes the magnitude and direction of lattice distortion associated with a dislocation.
Bushel
A dry or liquid measure equal to eight gallons.
c
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-2
Caloric
A postulated elastic fluid associated with heat.
Calorimeter
An insulated vessel for measuring the amount of heat absorbed or released by a chemical or physical change.
Calorimetry
The science of measuring heat flow.
Calutron
A device that separates isotopes by ionizing the sample.
Camera Obscura
A room with a small hole in one wall used by artists to produce images.
Capacitance
The capacitance is defined as the total electric charge on a body divided by its potential.
Capacitive Reactance
The opposition, expressed in ohms, offered to the flow of an alternating current by capacitance.
Capacitor
An electrical component that passes alternating currents but blocks direct currents.
Capillary Action
A phenomenon whereby the narrower the tube the higher the liquid will climb above it's normal bulk level in the container.
Carat Gold
Measure of parts of gold per 24 parts of an alloy and equal to 41.667 milligrams of gold per gram of alloy.
Carat Precious Stones
A standard measure of weight for precious stones.
Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen Cycle
In stars more massive than the sun this cycle is the primary process which converts hydrogen into helium.
Carrington Longitude
A system of fixed longitudes rotating with the sun.
Casimir Effect
A quantum mechanical effect, where two very large plates placed close to each other will experience an attractive force, in the absence of other forces.
Cathode
Electrode where electrons are gained (reduction) in redox reactions.
Cathode Ray
An electron emitted from the negative electrode in an evacuated tube.
Cathode Ray Tube
An evacuated tube containing an anode and a cathode that generates cathode rays when operated at a high voltage.
Causality Principle
The principle that cause must always preceed effect. More formally, if an event A ("the cause") somehow influences an event B ("the effect") which occurs later in time, then event B cannot in turn have an influence on event A.
Cavendish, Henry
English physicist and chemist, discovered hydrogen.
Cavitation
A condition which can occur in liquid handling machinery where a system pressure decrease in the suction line and pump inlet lowers fluid pressure and vaporization occurs.
Cavity Resonator
A space totally enclosed by a metallic conductor and supplied with energy in such a way that it becomes a source of electromagnetic oscillations.
Cavity Wavemeter
An instrument used to measure microwave frequencies.
centi
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-2
Centre
A point or axis around which anything revolves or rotates.
Centre European pour Rechearche Nucleaire
The major European International Accelerator Laboratory located near Geneva, Switzerland.
Centre Feed Method
Connecting the center of an antenna to a transmission line which is then connected to the output stage of the transmitter.
Centre Frequency
Frequency to which an amplifier is tuned. The frequency half way between the cut-off frequencies of a tuned circuit.
Centre of Mass
The balance point of an object. The location in an object that has the same translational motion as the object if it were shrunk to a point.
Centrifugal Force
A fictitious force arising in a rotating reference system.
Centripetal
An adjective meaning 'centre-fleeing.'
Cepheid Variable
A type of variable star which exhibits a regular pattern of changing brightness as a function of time.
Cerenkov Radiation
A charged particle emits Cerenkov radiation in a cone around its direction of travel when it travels through any medium faster than the speed of light through that medium.
CERN
The major European International Accelerator Laboratory located near Geneva, Switzerland.
CGS Units
Abbreviation for centimetre-gramme-second.
Chadwick, James
English physicist who discovered the neutron.
Chain
The chain is a unit of length.
Chain Reaction
A process in which the fissioning of one nucleus initiates the fissioning of others.
Chandrasekhar Limit
A limit which mandates that no white dwarf can be more massive than about 1.4 solar masses.
Chandrasekhar, Subrahmanyan
Indian astrophysicist reknowned for creating theoretical models of white dwarf stars, among other achievements.
Characteristic X-ray
An X-ray having a unique energy that is emitted by an atom during its de-energization after ionization of one of its electrons.
Charge
The excess or deficiency of electrons resulting in the body having negative or positive charge.
Charge Conjugation
The technical term for mathematical operations which interchange particles and antiparticles.
Charged
Possessing a net negative or positive charge.
Charles Gas Law
For a fixed mass of gas at constant pressure the volume is directly proportional to the temperature.
Charm
The flavor of the fourth quark.
Charmed
Having a nonzero value of charm.
Charmonium
Any meson composed of a charmed quark and a charmed antiquark.
Charon
Pluto′s double.
Chemical Differentiation
The separation of different elements, often heavier elements from lighter elements, as a consequence of different chemical reactions.
Chemical Energy
Energy stored in the bonds of atoms and molecules eg coal, petrol, biomass.
chi
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
Chirality
Handedness, the quality of having non-superimposable mirror images.
Choke Joint
A joint between two sections of waveguide that provides a good electrical connection without power losses or reflections.
Chromatic Aberration
A defect in lenses that causes different colors (wavelengths) of light to have different focal lengths.
Chromophore
A group or substructure on a molecule that is responsible for the absorption of light.
Chromosphere
The layer of the solar atmosphere above the photosphere and beneath the transition region and the corona.
Chronology Protection Conjecture
The concept that the formation of any closed timelike curve will automatically be destroyed by quantum fluctuations as soon as it is formed.
Ci
Abbreviation of curie, a unit of radioactivity.
Circuit
Interconnection of components to provide an electrical path between two or more components.
Clark Cell
A voltaic cell that is used as a reference emf.
Classical Mechanics
Lists all Classical Mechanics topics in the Encyclopaedia
Classical Physics
Physics prior to the introduction of the quantum principle. Classical physics incorporates Newtonian mechanics, views energy as a continuum, and is strictly causal.
Clerk-Maxwell, James
Clerk-Maxwell′s greatest work was his initial contribution to electromagnetic radiation.
Clock
A device that generates periodic, accurately spaced signals used for timing applications.
Closed System
A system that exchanges neither matter nor energy with the surroundings.
CNO Cycle
Abbreviation for Carbon-Oxygen-Nitrogen Cycle. In stars more massive than the sun this cycle is the primary process which converts hydrogen into helium.
Coanda Effect
The effect that indicates that a fluid tends to flow along a surface, rather than flow through free space.
Coaxial Line
A type of transmission line that contains two concentric conductors.
Coefficient
A coefficient is a constant multiplicative factor of a certain object.
Coefficient of Coupling
An expression of the extent to which two inductors are coupled by magnetic lines of force.
Coercive Force
Magnetizing force needed to reduce residual magnetism in a material to zero.
Cohesive Force
The attractive force exerted on a liquid molecule by the neighbouring liquid molecules.
Cold Junction
The reference junction of a thermocouple which is kept at a constant temperature.
Cold Plasma Model
A model of a plasma in which the temperature is neglected.
Colebrook Equation
Used to calculate the friction coefficients in different kinds of fluid flows - air ventilation ducts, pipes and tubes with water or oil, compressed air and much more.
Collector
One terminal of a transistor.
Collider
An accelerator in which two beams traveling in opposite directions are steered together
Colligative Properties
Properties of a solution that depend only on the number of particles dissolved in it, not the properties of the particles themselves.
Collimation
The alignment of the direction of the photons, so the beam of radiation can be directed at a well-defined part of a target material.
Collimator
A mechanical device installed along the trajectory of a beam to reduce the size of the beam.
Colloid
A heterogeneous mixture composed of tiny particles suspended in another material.
Colour
A quality of light, depending on its wavelength. Spectral colour of an emission of light is its place in the rainbow spectrum.
Colour
Property of quarks associated with their binding with gluons.
Columbium
A name sometimes given to Niobium, a platinum-gray, ductile metal with brilliant luster that is used in alloys, especially stainless steels.
Coma
A spherical cloud of material surrounding the head of a comet.
Comet
A chunk of frozen gasses, ice, and rocky debris that orbits the Sun.
Common Base Connection
Same as ground base connection. A mode of operation of a transistor in which the base is common to both the input and output circuits and is usually earthed.
Common Collector Connection
A mode of operation of a transistor in which the collector is common to both the input and the output circuits and is usually connected to one of the power rails.
Common Emitter Connection
A mode of operation for a transistor in which the emitter is common to the input and output circuits. The base is the input terminal and the collector is the output terminal.
Commutator
An electrical switch that periodically reverses the current direction in an electric motor or electrical generator.
Compass
The earliest-known compass dates from China, during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BC - 2nd century AD).
Compensation Windings
Windings embedded in slots in pole pieces, connected in series with the armature, whose magnetic field opposes the armature field and cancels armature reaction.
Complementarity Principle
The principle that a given system cannot exhibit both wave-like behavior and particle-like behavior at the same time.
Complementary Colours
For lights, two colours that combine to form white.
Complementary Transistor
A PNP and NPN pair used in a push-pull circuit.
Compressibility
The change in volume of a unit volume of a fluid when subjected to a unit change of pressure.
Compressible Fluids
Compressible flow requires the integration of the equations of conservation of mass and momentum with that of energy conservation.
Compression
A pressing force that squeezes a material together.
Compressional Wave
Wave in an elastic medium which causes an element of the medium to change its volume without undergoing rotation.
Compton Effect
An effect that demonstrates that photons have momentum.
Compton Electron
An orbital electron of an atom which has been ejected from its orbit as a result or an impact by a high-energy quantum of radiation.
Compton Wavelength
The Compton Wavelength is the wavelength associated with the mass of any particle.
Conductance
The electrical conductance of a conductor is the reciprocal of the resistance of the conductor.
Conductivity
The ease with which a substance transmits electricity.
Conductor
A material that allows the passage of electric charge or the easy transfer of thermal energy.
Confinement
The containment of plasma particles and energy within a container for some extended period of time.
Conical Pendulum
The motion of the wire from which the bob hangs describes the surface of a cone.
Conjecture
A statement that may seem to be true, but has yet to be proven.
Conservation Laws
A law which states that, in a closed system, the total quantity of something will not increase or decrease, but remain exactly the same; that is, its rate of change is zero.
Conservation of Charge
In an isolated system the total charge is conserved.
Conservation of Energy
The total energy of an isolated system does not change.
Conservation of Mass
The total mass in a closed system does not change even when physical and chemical changes occur.
Conserved
This term is used in physics to mean that a number associated with a physical property does not change; it is invariant.
Constancy Principle
One of the postulates of Einstein′s special theory of relativity, which puts forth that the speed of light in vacuum is measured as the same speed to all observers, regardless of their relative motion.
Constellation
A named grouping of fixed stars.
Constructive Interference
When the peaks and troughs of two interfering waves match, the amplitudes add to give the resultant wave a higher amplitude.
Contact EMF
Electromotive force which arises at the contact of dissimilar metals at the same temperature, or the same metal at different temperatures.
Contact Potential
The voltage generated by the contact of two dissimilar metals or materials.
Continuity Equation
An equation which states that a fluid flowing through a pipe flows at a rate which is inversely proportional to the cross-sectional area of the pipe.
Continuous Spectrum
A plot of the relative absorbance or intensity of emitted light vs. wavelength or frequency that shows a smooth variation, rather than a series of sharp peaks or bands.
Control Rod
A neutron-absorbing material.
Conversion
A physical transformation from one material or state to another.
Coordinated Universal Time
By international agreement, the local time at the prime meridian, which passes through Greenwich, England.
Copernican Principle
The idea, suggested by Copernicus, that the Sun, not the Earth, is at the centre of the Universe.
Copernican System
A theory of planetary motions, proposed by Copernicus, according to which all planets move in circular orbits around the Sun.
Copernicus, Nicolaus
Polish astronomer who advanced the theory that the Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun.
Copper Loss
The power lost because of the resistance of the conductors.
Cord
An imperial unit of volume used mainly in the timber industry.
Coriolis Force
A fictitious force that occurs in rotating reference frames.
Corona
The outermost layer of the Sun′s atmosphere.
Corona Extinction Voltage
The highest voltage at which continuous corona of specified pulse amplitude no longer occurs as the applied voltage is gradually decreased from above the corona inception value.
Corona Inception Voltage
The lowest voltage at which continuous corona of specified pulse amplitude occurs as the applied voltage is gradually increased.
Coronal Mass Ejection
A huge cloud of hot plasma, occasionally expelled from the Sun.
Corpuscular Theory
The theory that light is transmitted as a stream of particles.
Correlation
Generally speaking, a similarity between data; the extent to which data are related.
Correspondence Principle
The principle that when a new, more general theory is put forth, it must reduce to the more specialized theory under normal circumstances.
Cosmic Background Radiation
Believed to be the cosmologically redshifted radiation released by the Big Bang itself.
Cosmic Ray
An extremely energetic (relativistic) charged particle.
Cosmological Redshift
An effect where light emitted from a distant source appears redshifted because of the expansion of spacetime itself.
Cosmology
The study of the history of the universe.
Cosmos
The universe regarded as an orderly, harmonious whole.
Cosmotron
A proton accelerator.
Coulombic Force
A force between charged particles, such as ions.
Coulometer
Instrument used for the measurement of electrical charge.
Couple
Two equal forces acting on a body in opposite directions and located at a specific distance apart produce a turning effect on the body.
CP
Abbreviation for pressure coefficient, a dimensionless value which acts as a means of indicating the local pressure at some point of interest around a body, and which is independent of velocity.
CPT Theorem
The proposition that all the laws of physics are unchanged by the combined operations of charge conjugation (C), space inversion (P), and time reversal (T).
Creep
The time-dependent permanent deformation that occurs under stress.
Crest
The peak of a wave disturbance.
Crest Factor
Peak value divided by the R.M.S. value, used as a measure of the severity of a segment of data.
Critical Angle
The minimum angle of incidence for which total internal reflection occurs.
Critical Chain Reaction
A chain reaction in which an average of one neutron from each fission reaction initiates another reaction.
Critical Mass
The minimum mass of a substance that will allow a chain reaction to continue without dying out.
Crookes Dark Space
The dark space between the cathode glow and the negative glow in a vacuum tube, occurring when the pressure is low.
Crookes, William
English chemist and physicist who discovered thallium.
CRT
An evacuated tube containing an anode and a cathode that generates cathode rays when operated at a high voltage.
Cryogenic
Operating at extremely low temperatures.
Cryogenic Gas
A gas that has been liquified by lowering the temperature, usually to a temperature under about -100°C.
Cryogenic Storage
Extreme low-temperature storage.
Cryostat
Container used to isolate thermally a fluid from its environment and maintain it at low temperatures.
Crystal
A material in which the atoms are arranged in a definite geometric pattern.
Crystalline
The state of a solid material characterized by a periodic and repeating three-dimensional arrays of atoms, ions, or molecules.
Crystallization
Act or process of forming crystals or bodies by elements or compounds solidifying.
Curie
Unit of radioactivity equal to 3.7x1010Bequerels.
Curie Constant
A characteristic constant, dependent on the material in question, which indicates the proportionality between its susceptibility and its thermodynamic temperature.
Curie, Pierre & Marie
French physicists, researched radioactivity.
Curie Temperature
The temperature above which a ferromagnetic or ferrimagnetic material becomes paramagnetic.
Curie′s Law
The susceptibility of an isotropic paramagnetic substance is related to its thermodynamic temperature.
Curie-Weiss Law
More general form of Curie′s law, which states that the susceptibility of a paramagnetic substance is related to its thermodynamic temperature.
Current
Current is often used to transmit signals in noisy environments because it is much less affected by environmental noise pick-up.
Curvature
Departure from flatness of a surface. Defined as the reciprocal of the radius of curvature.
Cutoff
A transistor operating mode where very little current flows between the collector and emitter.
Cutoff Frequency
The cutoff frequency of an anechoic wedge or set of wedges is the lowest frequency above which the normal incidence sound absorption coefficient is at least .990
Cycle
One complete repetition of a periodic motion.
Cycles per Second
The rate of repetition of periodic motion measured in hertz (cycles per second).
Cyclotron
A type of particle accelerator in which an ion introduced at the centre is accelerated in an expanding spiral path by use of alternating electrical fields in the presence of a magnetic field.
Cylindrical Wave
A wave in which the surfaces of constant phase are coaxial cylinders.
d
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-1
da
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10
Dalton, John
He developed atomic theory that accounts for the law of conservation of mass, law of definite proportions and law of multiple proportions.
Damping Factor
The ratio of actual damping in a system to its critical damping.
Damping Ratio
Also known as Damping Factor, the ratio of actual damping in a system to its critical damping.
Danjon Scale
A scale measuring the darkness of lunar eclipses.
Dark Field Imaging
Using a single diffracted beam to form the image in a TEM.
Dark Matter
Matter that is in space but is not visible to us because it emits no radiation by which to observe it.
Data Transmission
The transfer of information from one place to another or from one part of a system to another.
Daughter Isotope
In a nuclear equation the compound remaining after the parent isotope (the original isotope) has undergone decay.
Davisson-Germer Experiment
An experiment that conclusively confirmed the wave nature of electrons.
de Broglie Wavelength
The wavelength associated with a particle or body.
deca
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10.
Decalescence
A decrease in temperature that occurs while heating metal through a range in which change in structure occurs.
Decay Rate
The rate at which a population of radioactive atoms decays into stable daughter atoms.
Decay Time
The time required for an exponentially decaying process to decrease to 1/e = 36.7879% of its original value.
Decaying Orbit
An unstable orbit from which the orbiting object will gradually spiral into the body it is orbiting.
Deceleration
Negative acceleration is called deceleration .
deci
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-1
Decimal Prefixes
The decimal prefixes from pico to tera.
Deduction
A conclusion derived by reasoning.
Deflection Coils
In a cathode-ray tube, coils used to bend an electron beam a desired amount.
Deflection Plates
Two pairs of parallel electrodes, one pair set forward of the other and at right angles to each other, parallel to the axis of the electron stream within an electrostatic cathode-ray tube.
Degenerate Orbital
A set of orbitals are said to be degenerate if they all have the same energy.
Deionization Potential
The potential at which ionization of the gas within a gas-filled tube ceases and conduction stops.
Deionization Time
In a spark gap, the time required for ionized gas to return to its neutral state after the spark is removed.
Delta
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
Depletion Region
The region in a semiconductor where essentially all free electrons and holes have been swept out by the electrostatic field which exists there.
Derived SI Units
These are multiplications and divisions of the basic units to form derived units.
Derived Units
Derived units are units constructed from a base system of units.
Destructive Interference
When the peaks of one wave match the troughs of another, the waves interfere destructively.
Determinism Principle
The principle that if one knows the state to an infinite accuracy of a system at one point in time, one would be able to predict the state of that system with infinite accuracy at any other time, past or future.
Deuteron
Nucleus of a deuterium atom.
Dextrorotatory
A chiral molecule which rotates plane-polarized light to the right.
Dielectric
An insulating material. Such as the material between the plates of a capacitor.
Dielectric Breakdown Voltage
Voltage an insulating material will withstand before flashover (arcing) or puncture.
Dielectric Constant
The ratio of the permittivity of a medium to that of a vacuum.
Dielectric Displacement
The magnitude of charge per unit area of capacitor plate.
Dielectric Heating
The phenomenon in which radiowave or microwave electromagnetic radiation heats a dielectric material, especially as caused by dipole rotation.
Dielectric Hysteresis Loss
Power loss of a capacitor because of the changes in orientation of electron orbits in the dielectric; the changes in orientation are caused by rapid reversal in polarity of line voltage.
Dielectric Losses
Power losses due to the conductance of dielectric materials.
Dielectric Strength
The magnitude of an electric field necessary to cause significant current passage through a dielectric material.
Dielectric Withold Volatge
Voltage an insulating material will withstand before flashover (arcing) or puncture.
Differential Amplifier
One whose output is proportional to the difference between two inputs.
Differential Input
Often used to reduce noise picked up by the signal leads.
Diffraction
The spreading of waves passing through an opening or around a barrier.
Diffraction Grating
Grating device that splits light into a spectrum of the component wavelengths.
Diffuse Reflection
The reflection of rays from a rough surface. The reflected rays do not leave at fixed angles.
Diffusion
The mixing of two substances caused by random molecular motions.
Diffusion Bonding
A solid-state process for joining metals by using heat and pressure to achieve atomic bonding.
Diffusion Coefficient
The constant of proportionality between diffusion flux and the concentration gradient in Fick′s first law.
Diffusion Rate
The number of randomly moving molecules that pass through a unit area per second.
Dimensions
All quantities can be expressed in terms of three basic quantities, mass M, length L and time T.
Dioptre
A measure of the focal length of a mirror or lens.
Dip Angle
The vertical angle between the true horizon and the apparent horizon.
Dip Equator
Another name for Aclinic Line or Magnetic Equator.
Dipole
A pair of equal yet opposite electrical charges that are separated by a small distance.
Dirac Delta Function
The limiting case of a pulse with unit area that is infinitely short and at the same time infinitely high.
Dirac, Paul
English physicist; published Principles of Quantum Mechanics in 1930.
Dirac′s Constant
Equal to Planck′s constant divided by 2 pi.
Direct Current
A current that does not change in direction.
Direct Measurement
A process of obtaining the measurement of some entity by reading a measuring tool, such as a ruler for length, a scale for weight, or a protractor for angle size.
Discontinuity
A break in sequence or continuity of anything.
Dislocation
A linear crystalline defect around which there is an atomic misalignment.
Dislocation Line
The line that extends along the end of the extra half-plane of atoms for an edge dislocation, and along the center of the spiral of a screw dislocation.
Dispersion
The spreading of light into a spectrum of colour. The variation in the speed of a periodic wave due to its wavelength or frequency.
Displacement
Displacement is a vector quantity that specifies the change of position of a body or particle and is usually measured from the mean position or position of rest.
Displacements per Atom
A measure of the damage to a crystalline material caused by bombarding the material with energetic particles.
Distortion
Any change in the waveform or harmonic content of an original signal as it passes through a device.
Distributed Constants
The constants of inductance, capacitance, and resistance in a transmission line.
Diurnal Aberration
The component of stellar aberration resulting from the observer′s diurnal motion about the center of the Earth.
Dobson Unit
Unit used in geophysics to measure the ozone in the atmosphere.
Doppler Effect
A change in the frequency of a periodic wave due to the motion of the observer, the source, or both.
Doppler Sonar
An acoustic instrument that measures the change in the acoustic frequency of the scattered sound or echo from that of the transmitted pulse. The magnitude and direction of the shift in frequency is related to the relative motion of the sensor and the scatterer.
Drift
Motion of carriers caused by an electric field.
Dry Air
Air without contained water vapour.
Dry Bulb Temperature
The temperature of a gas or mixture of gases indicated by an accurate thermometer after correction for radiation.
Dry Bulb Thermometer
A thermometer used to measure the ambient temperature.
Dry Cell
A electrolytic cell also known as a Leclanché cell that uses a moist paste rather than a liquid as an electrolyte.
Ductile Fracture
A mode of fracture that is attended by extensive gross plastic deformation.
Ductility
A measure of a material′s ability to undergo appreciable plastic deformation before fracture.
Dynamic Equilibrium
Equilibrium which includes inertial forces.
Dynamic Friction
Resistance to relative movement of two bodies that are already in motion.
Dynamic Range
The power range over which a component or system functions properly.
E
Prefix representing a multiplication of 1018
Earth
The basic Earth data.
Earth Current
A large-scale surge of electric charge within the earth′s crust, associated with a disturbance of the ionosphere.
Earth Shine
Another name for Earthlight.
Earthlight
The illumination of the dark part of the moon′s disk produced by sunlight reflected onto the moon from the earth′s surface and atmosphere.
Echo Location
Determining the location of a target relative to the sensor face by means of measuring the time it takes for a sound wave to travel to the target and be reflected back to the sensor
Eclipse
A chance alignment between the Sun and two other celestial objects within the solar system in which one body blocks the light of the Sun from the other.
Eddington Limit
The theoretical limit at which the photon pressure would exceed the gravitational attraction of a light-emitting body.
Eddy Currents
Circulating currents within inductor core material caused by magnetic lines of force cutting across the core in a direction which induces a voltage in the core material.
Edge Dislocation
A linear crystalline defect associated with the lattice distortion produced in the vicinity of the end of an extra half-plane of atoms within a crystal.
Edison Effect
The phenomenon wherein electrons emitted from a heated element within a vacuum tube will flow to a second element that is connected to a positive potential.
Effective Nuclear Charge
The nuclear charge experienced by an electron when other electrons are shielding the nucleus.
Effective Temperature
An arbitrary index which combines into a single value the effect of temperature, humidity, and air movement on the sensation of warmth or cold felt by the human body.
Efficiency
A measure of how well a machine changes energy into useful energy.
Effusion
Movement of gas molecules through a small opening.
E-Field
Abbreviation of Electric Field.
EHF
Abbreviation of Extremely High Frequency.
Ehrenfest Paradox
The special relativistic paradox involving a rapidly rotating disc.
Eigenvalue
Possible values for a parameter of an equation for which the solutions will be compatible with the boundary conditions.
Einstein, Albert
We may of heard of his Theory of Relativity and his Electromagnetic Theory of Light; but few of us will ever understand them.
Einstein Field Equation
The cornerstone of Einstein′s general theory of relativity.
Einstein′s Formula
One of the most famous formula, this relates mass lost (m) in a nuclear reaction to energy (E) production, where c = the speed of light.
Elapsed Time
A period of time that has passed, usually between a given starting time and ending time.
Electric Charge
A property used to explain attractions and repulsions between certain objects.
Electric Constant
e0 = 8.854187817x10-12Fm-1
Electric Dipole
An object whose centres of positive and negative charge do not coincide.
Electric Dipole Moment
A measure of the degree of polarity of a polar molecule.
Electric Discharge
The flow of electricity through a gas, resulting in the emission of radiation that is characteristic of the gas and of the intensity of the current.
Electrical Conductivity
The capacity of a material to conduct electric current.
Electrical Energy Storage
The storage of electrical energy in a device such as a capacitor.
Electrical Impedance
Impedance of a linear circuit element with two terminals is the ratio of the complex sinusoidally varying voltage applied across the terminals to the complex current that flows in response.
Electrical Insulation
A material used to prevent the leakage of electricity from a conductor and to provide mechanical spacing or support as protection against accidental contact with the conductor.
Electrochemical Energy Storage
The storage of energy in a system such as a battery.
Electrodes
Device that moves electrons into or out of a solution by conduction.
Electrolysis
Changing the chemical structure of a compound using electrical energy.
Electrolyte
A substance that dissociates fully or partially into ions when dissolved in a solvent, producing a solution that conducts electricity.
Electromagnetism
Lists all Electromagnetism topics in the Encyclopaedia
Electromechanical
Converting electrical input into mechanical action.
Electromotive Series
The electrode potential of a material according to decreasing tendency to release electrons with hydrogen as zero.
Electronics
Lists all the Electronics topics
Electrophile
A species that loves electrons.
Electroweak Interaction
In the Standard Model, electromagnetic and weak interactions are related (unified).
Element
A pure substance which cannot be broken down into simpler substances by chemical means.
Elementary Charge
The electric charge on an electron particle.
ELF
That portion of the radio frequency spectrum from 30 to 3000 hertz.
Elliptical Orbit
An orbit which describes an ellipse or oval shape.
EMF
Abbreviation of Electro Motive Force.
Emission Spectrum
The collection of discrete wavelengths emitted by atoms that have been excited by heating or by electric currents.
Emissivity
The ratio of the radiant energy emitted by a any source to that emitted by a blackbody at the same temperature.
Emittance
The rate at which emission occurs.
Emitter
One terminal of a transistor. Compares generally to the cathode of a tube.
Emitter Coupled Logic
Where transistors are held in the turned-on state to increase the speed of the gate.
Empirical Law
A law strictly based on experiment, which may lack theoretical foundation.
Energy
Energy is defined as the capacity of a body for doing work.
Energy Balance
The difference between the total incoming and total outgoing energy.
Energy Conservation
Practice of decreasing the quantity of energy used.
Energy Content
Amount of energy for a given weight of fuel.
Energy Efficiency
Ratio of energy output of a conversion process or of a system to its energy input.
Energy Source
There are a number of different energy sources.
Energy Storage
Device or physical media that store some form of energy to perform some useful operation at a later time.
Energy Use
The use of energy by a system to perform an operation or to achieve a given task. For automotive vehicles the energy use is measured in mpg, litres/100km or for electric vehicles Wh/km.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
EPSRC funds research and postgraduate training in engineering and the physical sciences at universities and other organisations throughout the UK.
Epitaxial
Of or pertaining to a layer of single crystal material grown on a crystalline substrate, with the same crystal orientation in both regions.
Epsilon
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
EPSRC
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Equations of Motion
There are four basic equations that describe the motion of a body moving with constant acceleration.
Equations of Rotational Motion
The rotational forms of the equations describing a body undergoing constant angular acceleration.
Equatorial Axis
Among the two mutually perpendicular axes of a telescope, the one that points at the celestial pole.
Equatorial Orbit
An orbit that occurs when the plane of a satellite coincides with the plane of the earth at the equator.
Equilibrium
In mechanics a body may be in one of three states of equilibrium: stable, unstable and neutral. In chemistry when the reactants and products are in a constant ratio. The forward reaction and the reverse reactions occur at the same rate when a system is in equilibrium.
Equilibrium Constant
Value that expresses how far the reaction proceeds before reaching equilibrium.
Ergosphere
The region around a rotating black hole, between the event horizon and the static limit.
Erosion
The natural wearing away of rocks.
Errors
No measurement is exact, they all contain some degree of errors.
Eta
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
E-Transformer
A special form of differential transformer employing an E-shaped core.
E-Type Thermocouple
Chromel-constantan thermocouple with a temperature range of 0 to 800°C.
Euler Codes
Computer software that is a mathematical representation of the motion of a fluid whose behavior and properties are described at fixed points in a coordinate system.
Eulers Constant
γ = 0.5772156…..
Eutectic
An isothermal reversible reaction or an alloy having a structure or composition indicated by the eutectic point.
Eutectic Alloy
An alloy that changes directly from a solid to a liquid with no plastic or semiliquid state.
EUV
Extreme Ultraviolet, a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum from approximately 100 to 1000 angstroms.
eV
Abbreviation of Electron Volt.
Evaporate
To convert a liquid into a gas.
Evaporation
The physical process by which a liquid, such as water is transformed into a gaseous state, such as water vapor.
Evaporimeter
An instrument for measuring the rate at which water evaporates, also called an atmometer.
Event Horizon
The radius that a spherical mass must be compressed to in order to transform it into a black hole.
exa
Prefix representing a multiplication of 1018
Excitation
Excitation is an external force or motion (or other input) applied to a system that causes the system to respond in some way.
Exosphere
This region is considered the very outer limits of the earth's atmosphere.
Explosion
The sudden production of a large quantity of gas, usually hot, from a much smaller amount of a gas, liquid, or solid.
Extinction
The attenuation of light as it passes through a medium.
Extinction Potential
The potential at which ionization of the gas within a gas-filled tube ceases and conduction stops.
Extragalactic
Outside the Milky Way.
Extraterrestrial
A term used to describe anything which does not originate on the Earth.
Extreme Ultraviolet
A portion of the electromagnetic spectrum from approximately 100 to 1000 angstroms.
Extremely High Frequency
The portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between 30 GHz and 300 GHz.
Extremely Low Frequency
That portion of the radio frequency spectrum from 30 to 3000 hertz.
f
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-15
Face Centred Cubic
Roughly 20% of the elements crystallize with face centred cubic structures.
Faculae
Bright granular structures on the surface of the Sun that are slightly hotter than the surrounding photosphere.
Faint Young Sun Paradox
Calculations suggest that at about the time of the formation of Earth, the Sun was roughly two-thirds the brightness that it is now. However, there is no geological evidence.
Famous Scientists & Engineers
Lists all the Famous Scientists & Engineers in the Encyclopaedia
Far Field
The distribution of sound energy at a very much greater distance from a sources than the linear dimensions of the source and in which the sound waves can be considered to be plane waves.
Fast Fourier Transform
An algorithm, or digital calculation routine, that efficiently calculates the discrete Fourier transform from the sampled time waveform.
Fathom
An old unit of length more normally used to measure the depth of water.
Fatigue
An important mode of failure of engineering components subjected to dynamic stresses.
Femto
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-15
Fermat′s Principle
The path taken by a ray of light between any two points in a system is always the path that takes the least time.
Fermi Constant
The Fermi constant shows the coupling between a nucleon and a lepton field.
Fermi Energy
The average energy per particle when adding particles to a distribution but without changing the entropy or the volume.
Fermi Enrico
He received the Nobel Prize for physics for the development of neutron-induced nuclear reactions in 1938.
Ferrite
A solid solution of one or more elements in body-centered cubic iron.
Ferrite Rod Aerial
A coil of wire wound on a ferrite material to increase the inductance of the coil. It's signal capturing capability.
Ferroelectric
A dielectric material that may exhibit polarization in the absence of an electric field.
FFT
An abbreviation of Fast Fourier Transform, an algorithm, or digital calculation routine, that efficiently calculates the discrete Fourier transform from the sampled time waveform.
Fibre
Any material that has been drawn into a cylinder with a length-to-diameter ratio greater than about ten.
Ficks Laws
Fick′s first law: The diffusion flux is proportional to the concentration gradient.
Field Excitation
The creation of a steady magnetic field within the field windings by the application of a dc voltage either from the generator itself or from an external source.
Finite Impulse Response Filter
A commonly used type of digital filter. Digitized samples of the audio signal serve as inputs, and each filtered output is computed from a weighted sum of a finite number of previous inputs.
FIR Filter
A commonly used type of digital filter. Digitized samples of the audio signal serve as inputs, and each filtered output is computed from a weighted sum of a finite number of previous inputs.
Firing Potential
The potential required to ionize the gas of a gas-filled tube.
Firmament
The celestial sphere and the collection of stars whose position is fixed on it.
First Class Lever
The fulcrum is situated between the load and the applied force.
First Ionization Energy
The energy needed to remove an electron from an isolated, neutral atom.
First Postulate of Special Relativity
The laws of physics are the same for all inertial reference systems.
Fission
The splitting of a heavy nucleus into two or more lighter nuclei.
Fizeau Method
One of the first truly relativistic experiments, intended to measure the speed of light.
Flavour
A characteristic that distinguishes different types of hadrons and leptons with different masses.
Flip Flop
An astable multivibrator.
Flow Rate
Volume per unit of time.
Fluid Dynamics
Lists all Fluid Dynamics topics in the Encyclopaedia
Fluid Friction
Friction due to the viscosity of fluids.
Fluids
Substances in which the binding forces are weaker than in solids.
Fluorescence
The property of a material whereby it emits visible light when it is illuminated by ultraviolet light.
Flux
The rate of flow of a physical quantitiy through a reference surface.
Flywheel Effect
The continuous interchange of electric energy between the capacitor and inductor of a parallel resonant circuit wherein the energy level is diminished only by circuit resistance and radiated energy.
FM
An abbreviation of Frequency Modulation where the information signal is used to vary the carrier signal frequency.
Focal Plane
A surface upon which the image of all points in the field of view of an optical instrument is created.
Focal Point
The location at which a mirror or a lens focuses rays parallel to the optic axis or from which such rays appear to diverge.
Focus
Point at which converging rays meet and at which a clearly defined image can be obtained.
Focusing Anode
An electrode of a CRT that is used to focus the electrons into a tight beam.
Force
A force is that which when acting on a body that is free to move accelerates the motion of the body.
Forced Vibration
The oscillation of a system under the action of a forcing function.
Foucault Currents
Also known as Eddy Currents.
Free Charges
Those electrons that can be moved by an externally applied voltage.
Free Energy
A thermodynamic quantity that is a function of both the internal energy and entropy of a system.
Free Field
Field in a homogeneous, isotropic medium free from boundaries.
Free Progressive Wave
Wave in a medium free from boundary effects.
Free Space Loss
The loss of energy of radio waves caused by the spreading of the wavefront as it travels from the transmitter.
Freeze
To change from a liquid to a solid by cooling.
Frequency
The rate of repetition of periodic motion measured in hertz (cycles per second).
Frequency Modulation
The information signal is used to vary the carrier signal frequency.
Frequency Spectrum
The entire range of frequencies contained in a pulse or signal.
Friction
The resistance to motion which is called into play when it is attempted to slide one surface over another, with which it is in contact.
Frisch, Otto
Advanced the theory that uranium, when bombarded by neutrons, breaks into smaller atoms.
Froude Number
A dimensionless number used in the study of fluid flow problems with models.
f-stop
The ratio of the focal length of the lens to diameter of the aperture.
Fuel
Any substance burned for heat or power.
Fulcrum
The support on which a lever turns.
Full Scale Deflection
The maximum value on the scale of an instrument.
Fully Ionized Plasma
A plasma in which all the atoms or molecules have been ionized.
Fundamental
In periodic forced vibration, the term fundamental refers to the lowest frequency component present in a harmonic train.
Fundamental Interaction
In the Standard Model the fundamental interactions are the strong, electromagnetic, weak, and gravitational interactions.
Furlong
A distance of one-eight of a mile.
Fusion
The combining of light nuclei to form a heavier nucleus. Also, the complete mixing of two materials along an edge.
g
Abbreviation often used for standard acceleration due to gravity, g = 9.80665 ms-2
G
Prefix representing a multiplication of 109
G
The constant of proportionality in Newton′s law of universal gravitation.
Galactic Corona
A huge spherical region that exists around our own and other spiral galaxies.
Galactic Disc
The plane in which the spiral arms of spiral galaxies or barred spiral galaxies exist.
Galaxy
A system of about 100 billion stars.
Galaxy Clusters
Groups of galaxies that may contain up to a few thousand galaxies.
Galilean Principle of Relativity
The laws of motion are the same in all inertial reference systems.
Galileo Galilei
Astronomer, mathematician and physicist he dwelt, not on the useless question, why do things happen? but, how do things happen?
Galvanic Cell
A cell in which chemical change is the source of electrical energy.
Galvanic Couple
A pair of dissimilar conductors, commonly metals, in electrical contact.
Galvanic Current
The electric current that flows between metals or conductive nonmetals in a galvanic couple.
Galvanometer
An instrument for detecting and measuring a small electric current by movements of a magnetic needle or of a coil in a magnetic field.
Gamma
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
Gas
Matter with no definite shape or volume.
Gas Constant
Molar Gas Constant, R = 8.31441 JK-1mol-1
Gas Diffusion
Mixing of two gases caused by random molecular motions.
Gate
One of the terminals of a Field Effect Transistor (FET).
Gauge Pressure
Zero referenced against ambient air pressure, so it is equal to absolute pressure minus atmospheric pressure.
Gauss
A unit of magnetic field strength, 10-4 tesla.
Gay-Lussac, Joseph Louis
Developed the law of volumes concerning the combination of gases and discovered boron.
Geiger, Johannes
Helped to develop first successful counter of alpha particles.
Geocentric Model
A model of the Universe with the Earth at its center.
Geocorona
The outermost layer of the Earth′s neutral atmosphere.
Geodetic Coordinates
A system of geographic position referencing. Angular measurements of latitude and longitude are projected onto a well-defined reference ellipsoid that approximates the earth′s irregular shape.
Geological Timescale
The ages of the history of planet earth from the Pleistocene to the Precambrian era.
Geometric Scattering
Acoustic scattering in which the wavelength of the sound used is much smaller than the size of object causing the scattering.
Geometrized Units
A system of units whereby certain fundamental constants are set to unity.
Geostationary
A satellite orbit traveling from west to east at speeds that allow it to remain fixed over a given place on the earth′s equator at approximately 22,300 miles in altitude. A geostationary satellite makes one revolution in 24 hours, synchronous with the earth′s rotation.
Getter
An alkali metal introduced into a vacuum tube during manufacture.
GeV
Abbreviation of Giga electron Volt.
Giant Molecular Cloud
Massive clouds of gas in interstellar space composed primarily of hydrogen molecules, though also containing other molecules observable by radio telescopes.
giga
Prefix representing a multiplication of 109
Global Positioning System
An array of satellites, deployed and maintained by the U.S. Department of Defense, which can be monitored to triangulate an accurate position on the earth′s surface.
Globular Cluster
A spherically symmetric collection of stars which shared a common origin.
Glow Discharge
Discharge of electricity through a gas in an electron tube.
Gluon
An exchange particle responsible for the force between quarks.
GMT
Abbreviation of Greenwich Mean Time, local mean time at the Greenwich meridian.
Gnomon
The part of a sundial which casts the shadow, usually a rod or fin pointed at the celestial pole.
GPS
An abbreviation of Global Positioning System.
Grade
Grade is used to define an angle, grade of sandpaper, amongst others..
Graduation Mark
The marks that define the scale intervals on a measuring instrument are known as graduation marks.
Grain
An individual crystal in a poly-crystalline metal or alloy.
Grain Size
For metals, a measure of the areas or volumes of grains in a polycrystalline material, usually expressed as an average when the individual sizes are fairly uniform.
Gravimetric Energy Density
Weight based energy density.
Gravitational Collapse
When a massive body collapses under its own weight.
Gravitational Confinement
The containment of nuclei under the influence of a gravitational field.
Gravitational Constant
G = 6.67x10-11 Nm2kg-2
Gravitational Field
The space surrounding an object where each location is assigned a value equal to the gravitational force experienced by one unit of mass placed at that location.
Gravitational Interaction
The interaction of particles due to their mass/energy.
Gravitational Mass
The property of a particle that determines the strength of its gravitational interaction with other particles.
Gravitational Potential
The worrk done in bringing a unit mass from infinity to that point. The assumption being that the gravitational potential is zero at infinity.
Gravitational Potential Energy
The work done by the force of gravity when an object falls from a particular point in space to the location assigned the value of zero.
Gravitational Redshift
The decrease in the frequency of electromagnetic waves due to a gravitational field.
Gravitational Wave
Ripple in the structure of space-time which may occur individually or as continuous radiation.
Gravitationally Bound
Objects held in orbit about each other by their gravitational attraction.
Graviton
The carrier particle of the gravitational interactions; not yet directly observed.
Graviton Decoupling
An epoch, early in the life of the universe, in which a density was reached such that gravitons no longer constantly interacted with other particles.
Gravity
One of the forces of nature. It is an attractive force exerted between two or more particles all of which have mass.
Gravity Separation
Under the influence of gravity, separation of immiscible phases allows the denser phase to settle out.
Gravity Wave
A wave disturbance caused by the acceleration of masses.
Gray
This relates to the amount of energy actually absorbed in some material, and is used for any type of radiation and any material.
Greek Alphabet
The Greek alphabet from alpha to omega.
Greenhouse Effect
The 'greenhouse effect' is caused by certain gases in the atmosphere trapping heat radiated from the Earth.
Greenwich Mean Time
Local mean time at the Greenwich meridian.
Gregorian Calendar
This calendar modifies the Julian calendar for greater precision.
Ground Loop
An alternative path in which voltage can travel.
Ground Waves
Radio waves which travel near the surface of the earth.
Grounded Base
A transistor amplifier circuit comparable to the grounded-grid (signal ground) tube circuit.
Grounded Collector
A transistor circuit comparable to the cathode-follower tube circuit. (Also called emitter follower.)
Grounding
Establishing an electric connection to the Earth in order to neutralize an object.
Group Delay
The rate of change of phase shift with respect to frequency.
Gyro
Abbreviation for Gyroscope.
Gyroscope
A disc with a heavy rim mounted in such a way that its axis of rotation can adopt any position.
H
An abbreviation of henry, the SI unit of inductance.
h
Prefix representing a multiplication of 102
Hadrons
The family of particles that participate in the strong interaction.
Half Life
The amount of time it takes for half an initial amount to disintegrate.
Hall Effect
The phenomenon whereby a force is brought to bear on a moving electron or hole by a magnetic field that is applied perpendicular to the direction of motion.
Hall Mobility
A measure of the flow of charged particles perpendicular to both a magnetic and an electric field.
Halo
A ring of light that appears around the Sun or Moon.
Haptic
Pertaining to the sense of touch, from the Greek word haptein, to grasp.
Hard X-Rays
Higher-energy part of the X-ray spectrum ranging from approximately 5 keV to 100 keV.
Hartree
The atomic unit of energy, named after the British physicist Douglas Hartree.
Hawking Radiation
A theory first proposed by British physicist Stephen Hawking, that due to a combination of properties of quantum mechanics and gravity, under certain conditions black holes can seem to emit radiation.
Hawking Temperature
The temperature inferred for a black hole based on the Hawking radiation detected from it.
h bar
Equal to Planck′s constant divided by 2 pi.
HCP
Abbreviation of Hexagonal Close Packed, a crystal structure found for some metals.
Heat Treatment
Heating and cooling a solid metal or alloy in such a way as to obtain desired conditions or properties.
hecto
Prefix representing a multiplication of 102.
Height
The vertical dimension of anything.
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
This principle states that it is not possible to know a particle's location and momentum precisely at any time.
Heisenberg Werner
Postulated the uncertainty principle in 1927 and received Nobel Prize for physics in 1932.
Heliocentric Model
A model of the Universe with the Sun at its centre.
Heliopause
The boundary between the solar wind and the interstellar wind, where the pressure of both are in balance.
Heliosheath
A vast, turbulent expanse where the solar wind piles up as it presses outward against interstellar matter.
Helium Burning
When temperature in the core of a star reaches 100 million degrees, three colliding helium nuclei fuse to form a carbon nucleus.
Helix
A path formed as a point advances uniformly around a cylinder, as the thread on a screw or the flutes on a drill.
Helmholtz Hermann
German physicist, anatomist and physiologist.
henry
The SI unit of inductance.
Henry′s Law
At a constant temperature, the amount of a given gas dissolved in a given type and volume of liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in equilibrium with that liquid.
Hermetic
Sealing of an object so it is airtight.
Hertz
The SI unit of frequency indicating the number of cycles per second (symbol Hz).
Hertzian Waves
Now generally called radio waves.
Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram
The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram relates the brightness of a star to its temperature.
Heterodyning
The process of mixing the incoming signal with the local oscillator frequency. This produces the two fundamentals and the sum and difference frequencies.
Hexagonal Close Packed
A crystal structure found for some metals.
High Tension
A comparative term used in electronics to denote high voltages.
Hohlraum
A cavity whose walls are in radiative equilibrium with the radiant energy within the cavity.
Hole
Particle associated with an empty electron level in an almost filled band.
Holocene
The current geological time period that started about 10,000 years ago.
Hologram
A three-dimensional record of visual information.
Holography
The photographic process for producing three-dimensional images.
Horizontally Polarized
Waves radiated with their E field component parallel to the surface of the earth.
Horseshoe Magnet
A permanent magnet or electromagnet bent into the shape of a horseshoe or having a U-shape to bring the two poles near each other.
Hot Carrier
A carrier, which may be either a hole or an electron, that has relatively high energy with respect to the carriers normally found in majority-carrier devices.
Hot Spot
A region of high heat flow.
Hot Wire Meter Movement
A meter movement that uses the expansion of a heated wire to move the pointer of a meter; measures DC or AC.
Humidity
Measure of the amount of water present in the air at any given time.
Humidity at Saturation
The mass per unit volume of water vapour required to saturate the air.
Hundredweight
Abbreviated as cwt, this is an imperial unit of mass.
Hunds Rule
When electrons are put into orbitals having the same energy, degenerate orbitals, one electron is put into each orbital before putting a second electron into an orbital.
Huygens′ Principle
"Every point of a wave front may be considered the source of secondary wavelets that spread out in all directions with a speed equal to the speed of propagation of the wave".
Hydrogen Burning
Hydrogen burning is the fusion of four hydrogen nuclei into a single helium nucleus.
Hydrometer
An instrument used for measuring the specific gravity of a liquid.
Hydrosphere
All the water on the surface of a planet.
Hygrometer
A tool for measuring the humidity of the air.
Hypobaric
Pertaining to low atmospheric pressure.
Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a proposed answer to a problem, or an explanation that accounts for a set of facts and that can be tested by further experimentation and observation.
Hysteresis
If the input varies from an initial point to a final point and then retraces its value back to the initial point, then the two paths of the output should be identical. If there is hysteresis in the system then the output paths will not coincide.
Hysteresis Loss
The power loss in an iron-core transformer or other alternating-current device as a result of magnetic hysteresis.
Hz
An abbreviation of hertz. The SI unit of frequency.
Ice Point
The temperature at which pure ice can exist in equilibrium with water at standard atmospheric pressure.
Ideal Gas
The particles have no internal structure, are indestructible, do not interact with each other except when they collide, and all collisions are elastic.
Ideal Gas Constant
Also known as Molar Gas Constant.
Ideal Gas Law
Gases obey the gas laws at low pressures and at temperatures above those at which they liquefy.
IIR
Abbreviation of Infinite Impulse Response filter, a commonly used type of digital filter.
Illuminance
This is defined as the luminous flux arriving at a surface that is perpendicular to it per unit area.
Impact
A collision of a mass in motion with a second mass.
Impedance
Mechanical impedance is the ratio of a force-like quantity to a velocity like quantity when the arguments of the real (or imaginary) parts of the quantities increase linearly with time.
Impedance of Free Space
Z0 = 376.7304 Ohm
Implosion
A violent inward collapse.
Impulse
The product of the force and the time during which it acts.
Impurity
A foreign atom in a crystal.
In Phase
Two periodic waves reaching peaks and going through zero at the same instant are said to be "in phase."
in
An abbreviation of inches, a secondary unit in the British system of units, now replaced by the SI system and the metre.
Incandescence
The emission of light due to heat.
Incident Wave
The wave that strikes the surface of a medium.
Inclinometer
A gravity device that measures angular position in degrees.
Inclusion
Foreign particle present as an undesirable impurity in a material.
Indicator Diagram
A plot of pressure vs. volume.
Induced Charge
An electrostatic charge produced on an object by the electric field that surrounds a nearby object.
Induced Current
Current that flows as a result of an Induced EMF.
Induced EMF
Abbreviation of Induced Electromotive Force, a voltage induced in a conductor in a varying magnetic field.
Inelastic
A collision or interaction in which kinetic energy is not conserved.
Inert Pair
Valence electrons in an s orbital penetrate to the nucleus better than electrons in p orbitals, and as a result they′re more tightly bound to the nucleus and less able to participate in bond formation.
Inertance
Inertance is the ratio of an acceleration-like quantity to a force-like quantity when the arguments of the real (or imaginary) parts of quantities increase linearly with time.
Inertia
An object's resistance to a change in its velocity.
Inertial Confinement
Methods of producing nuclear fusion by compressing a pellet of fuel using a laser, particle beam, or other external driver.
Inertial Force
A fictitious force that arises in accelerating (noninertial) reference systems.
Inertial Mass
An object′s resistance to a change in its velocity.
Inertial Reference System
Any reference system in which the law of inertia (Newton's first law of motion) is valid.
Infra-Red Radiation
The region of the electromagnetic spectrum adjacent to that of visible light
inHg
Abbreviation for inches of mercury, the old imperial measure of pressure when measured using a mercury barometer.
Instability
The tendency of some systems to leave their balanced or resting state.
Instantaneous Speed
The limiting value of the average speed as the time interval becomes infinitesimally small.
Interaction Energy
The total energy that is caused by an interaction between the objects being considered.
Interaction Space
The region in an electron tube where the electrons interact with an alternating electromagnetic field.
Interference
The combining of two or more signals results in an interaction called interference.
Interferometric
Pertaining to or measured by an interferometer.
Intermetallic
A compound of two metals that has a distinct chemical formula. The bonds in intermetallic compounds are often partly ionic.
Intermolecular Forces
Forces between molecules.
Internal Force
Forces which hold an object together when external forces or other loads are applied.
International Phonetic Alphabet
A system of words identifying the letters of the alphabet and numbers. The system was reached through international agreement, and uses words chosen for their ease of pronunciation by people of all language backgrounds.
International System of Units
The international system of units is based on the seven basic units: Mass, Length, Time, Electric current, Temperature, Amount of substance and Luminous intensity.
Intramolecular Forces
Forces within molecules. Forces caused by the attraction and repulsion of charged particles.
Intrinsic Carrier Density
The density of electrons and holes in an intrinsic semiconductor.
Invariant Point
A point on a binary phase diagram at which three phases are in equilibrium.
Ion
An atom, or group of atoms, which has either gained or lost electrons.
Ion Acoustic Wave
A longitudinal compression wave in the ion density of a plasma.
Ion Dipole Forces
Intermolecular force that exist between charged particles and partially charged molecules.
Ion Trap
A device that allows ions to be trapped for long periods of time, during which the ions can be interrogated and their state changes observed.
Ionic Bond
This describes the electrostatic attraction of two oppositely charged ions in a crystalline lattice.
Ionic Conductor
A material that conducts electricity with ions as charge carriers.
Ionic Current
Electrical current with ions as charge carriers.
Ionization
The process of producing ions.
Ionization Energy
Energy required to remove an electron from a specific atom.
Ionization Point
The potential required to ionize the gas of a gas-filled tube.
Ionize
To make an atom or molecule of an element lose an electron, as by X-ray bombardment, and thus be converted into a positive ion.
Ionizing Radiation
A particle or a photon with enough energy to knock off an electron from an atom.
Ionosphere
The region of the Earth's upper atmosphere containing a small percentage of free electrons and ions produced by photo ionization.
Ionospheric Storms
Disturbances in the earth′s magnetic field that make communications practical only at lower frequencies.
Iota
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
Irradiance
The direct, diffuse, and reflected solar radiation that strikes a surface. Usually expressed in kilowatts per square meter. Irradiance multiplied by time equals insolation.
Isobaric
Constant pressure.
Isochore
A contour line that corresponds to values measured at identical volumes.
Isochoric
Having constant volume.
Isolated System
A system which can exchange neither mass nor energy with its surroundings.
Isolation
The prevention of unwanted interaction or leakage between components.
Isotopes
Two atoms having the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons are said to be isotopes of each other.
Isotropic
Having identical values of a property in all crystallographic directions
Isotropic Radiation
The radiation of energy equally in all directions.
J
An abbreviation of Joule, the SI unit of energy.
Jerk
A vector quantity that specifies time rate of change of acceleration.
Josephson Effects
Electrical effects observed when two superconducting materials are separated by a thin layer of insulating material.
Joules Laws
Describe the heat produced when a current flows through a resistance and the internal energy of an ideal gas.
J-Type Thermocouple
Iron-constantan thermocouple with a temperature range of 0 to 750°C.
Julian Calendar
Introduced in 46 BC by the Roman ruler Julius Ceasar, this calendar assumes a year of 365.25 days, and uses a cycle in which 3 "ordinary" years of 365 days are followed by a "leap year" with 366 days.
Julian Day
Instituted by J. Julius Scaliger in 1582. The Julian date is independent of various calendars and chronological events.
Jupiter
The largest planet in our solar system.
k
k is the abbreviation of kelvin, the unit of thermodynamic temperature.
k
Prefix representing a multiplication of 103
Kaon
A meson containing a strange quark and an anti-up (or anti-down) quark, or an anti-strange quark and an up (or down) quark.
kappa
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
KE
Abbreviation of Kinetic Energy, the energy that a body possesses solely because it is moving.
Kelvin
The kelvin is the unit of thermodynamic temperature.
Kelvin Wedge
For waves in the wake of a boat (gravity waves). In this case the wedge semi-angle is independent of the speed of the body.
Keplers Laws
Kepler found three laws defining the orbit of planets.
Kerr Black Hole
A rotating black hole.
Kerr Effect
The ability of certain substances to differently refract light waves whose vibrations are in different directions when the substance is placed in an electric field.
keV
Abbreviation of kilo electron volts, one thousand electron volts.
kg
This is the abbreviation of kilogram, the SI unit of mass is the kilogram.
kgf
An abbreviation of kilogram-force, equivalent to the force exerted by 1 kilogram due to the local acceleration due to gravity.
kHz
Abbreviation of kilohertz, 1000Hz.
kilo
Prefix representing a multiplication of 103
kilopond
Another name for kilogram force.
Kinetic Theory
The derivation of the bulk properties of fluids from the properties of their constituent molecules, their motions, and interactions.
Kirchoffs Law
The basic law for current flow and voltage sources.
Kirkwood Gaps
Gaps in the asteroid belt, caused by resonance effects from Jupiter.
kJ
An abbreviation of kilojoule, one thousand joules. The SI unit of energy is the joule.
Klystron
An evacuated electron tube used as an oscillator or amplifier at microwave frequencies.
Knot
A speed of 1 nautical mile per hour.
kp
Abbreviation of kilopond, another name for kilogram force.
kPa
Abbreviation of kilopascal.
kph
Abbreviation of kilometres per hour, a unit of velocity used by most land based vehicles.
K-Type Thermocouple
Chromel-Alumel thermocouple with a temperature range of -200 to 1200°C.
kV
One thousand volts.
kVA
1000 VA
kW
One thousand watts.
l
The abbreviation of litre, a derived SI unit of volume.
Lag
The amount one wave is behind another in time.
lambda
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
Lambda
The lightest strange baryon, consisting of one up, one down, and one strange quark.
Lamberts Laws
The illuminance on a surface illuminated by light falling on it perpendicularly from a point source is proportional to the inverse square of the distance between the surface and the source.
Laminar Flow
Smooth flow in which no crossflow of fluid particles occur between adjacent streamlines, a flow conceived as made up of layers.
Laminated Core
A core built up from thin sheets of metal insulated from each other.
Landau Damping
The damping of a space charge wave by electrons which move at the phase velocity of the wave and gain energy transferred from the wave.
Langley
A unit of energy per unit area, equal to 1 gram-calorie per square centimeter, commonly employed in radiation theory.
Langmuir Probe
A small metallic conductor or pair of conductors inserted within a plasma in order to sample the plasma current.
Langmuir-Tonks Frequency
Also known as Plasma Frequency.
Lapse Rate
The rate at which temperature decreases with height in the atmosphere.
Laser
An acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.
laser Cooling
A technique that uses laser beams to slow down the motion of atoms and cool them to temperatures a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero.
Laser Diode
A laser which uses a forward biased semiconductor junction as the active medium.
Latent Energy
The internal energy associated with the phase of a system.
Latitude
The angular distance of a point on the Earth from the equator.
Lattice
An orderly arrangement of atoms in a material.
Lattice Constant
Refers to the constant distance between unit cells in a crystal lattice.
Laue Pattern
The pattern produced on a photographic film when high-frequency electromagnetic waves are fired at a crystalline solid.
Law of Areas
Kepler′s second law states: Each planet moves in such a way that the imaginary line joining it to the sun sweeps out equal areas in equal times.
Law of Parsimony
The suggestion that the simpler a theory is, the better it is.
Lawson Criterion
A criterion specifying the product of density and confinement time required to satisfy some power balance condition in a fusion reactor.
lb
The abbreviation of pound in the British system of units.
lbf
Abbreviation of pound-force = 4.44822 N
lbf in-2
Abbreviation of pounds force per square inch, an old British unit of pressure.
Lead
The opposite of Lag.
Leak Rate
The rate of gas leakage into or out of a system.
Leakage Current
The small amount of current that flows through the dielectric between the conductors of a transmission line.
Leakage Flux
Magnetic flux lines produced by the primary winding that do not link the turns of the secondary winding.
Leakage Resistance
The electrical resistance that opposes the flow of current through the dielectric of a capacitor.
Leclanché Cell
A electrolytic cell also known as a dry cell that uses a moist paste rather than a liquid as an electrolyte.
Left Hand Rule
The procedure for finding electron-flow direction in a wire by grasping it so the fingers point in the direction of the magnetic lines of force.
Lemma
A proposition that is useful mainly for the proof of some other theorem.
Length
The SI unit of length is the metre.
Length Contraction
An observer in motion relative to an object measures the length of that object along the direction of motion to be contracted when compared to the length measured by an observer at rest relative to the object.
Lennard-Jones Potential
Most often used in modelling van der Waals interactions.
Lenticular Galaxy
An intermediate form of galaxy, between elliptical galaxies and spiral galaxies.
Lenzs Law
A basic law which states that an induced current set up by the relative motion of a conductor and a magnetic field always flows in such a direction as to form a magnetic field which opposes the motion.
Lepton
A family of elementary particles that includes the electron, muon, tau, and their associated neutrinos.
Lever
One of the basic tools that date from prehistoric times.
Leyden Jar
An early form of capacitor.
Libration
The apparant rocking motion of an orbiting body.
Lift
The lifting force on a flying object.
Light
Electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the unaided human eye.
Light Ray
A line that represents the path of light in a given direction.
Light Scattering
When light passes through a medium that is not perfectly homogeneous, the irregularities in the medium scatter some of the light in all directions.
Light Year
The light year is defined as the distance travelled by electromagnetic radiation in one tropical year.
Line Spectra
Spectra generated by excited substances. Consists of radiation with only specific wavelengths.
Line Vortex
Idealized vortex in which vorticity is zero everywhere except along a line in space where it is infinite.
Linear
Having an output that varies in direct proportion to the input.
Linear Absorption Coefficient
The fractional decrease in transmitted intensity per unit of absorber thickness.
Linear Phase Response
Any system which accurately preserves phase relationships between frequencies
Linear Region
A transistor operating mode where the collector current is proportional to the base current.
Linear System
A system is linear if for every element in the system, the response is proportional to the excitation.
Linke Turbidity Factor
A measure of atmospheric turbidity, equal to the ratio of total optical depth to the Rayleigh optical depth.
Liquefaction
The transformation of a gas into a liquid.
Liquid
Matter with a definite volume that takes the shape of its container.
Lissajou′s Figures
The pattern traced out when the displacements of two simple harmonic motions are traced in the x and y direction.
lm
An abbreviation of lumen, the derived SI unit of luminous flux.
Local Action
A continuation of current flow within a battery cell when there is no external load.
London Force
An intermolecular attractive force that arises from a cooperative oscillation of electron clouds on a collection of molecules at close range.
Lone Pair
Electrons that are not involved in bonding.
Longitude
The location of a point east or west of the prime meridian. Longitude is shown on a map or globe as north-south lines left and right of the prime meridian, which passes through Greenwich, England.
Longitudinal Wave
A wave in which the vibrations of the medium are parallel to the direction the wave is moving.
Lorentz Gas
A Plasma model in which the electrons are assumed not to interact with each other, but only with ions and where the ions are assumed to remain at rest.
Lorentz Transformation
A set of equations which are used, in relativity problems, to transform measurements from one frame of reference to another.
Lumen
The derived SI unit of luminous flux.
Lunar Eclipse
When the Moon enters the Earth′s shadow as the Earth moves between the Sun and the Moon.
Lunar Month
1 lunar month = 2.551444x106s
lux
An abbreviation of lumen m-2, the metric unit of illuminance.
Luxon
A particle which travels solely at the speed of light in vacuum.
lx
An abbreviation of lux that itself is an abbreviation of lumen m-2, the metric unit of illuminance.
ly
Abbreviation of Light Year.
Lyman Series
The series which describes the emission spectrum of hydrogen when electrons are jumping to the ground state.
m
This is the abbreviation of metre, the SI unit of length.
m
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-3
M
Prefix representing a multiplication of 106
Mach Number
The ratio of the speed of a body or flow of a fluid to the local speed of sound in the fluid.
Mach Wedge
The wave front semi-angle for a wake generated by supersonic motion of a body in a non-dispersive medium.
Machs Principle
The inertia of any particular particle or particles of matter is attributable to the interaction between that piece of matter and the rest of the Universe.
Macroscopic
Anything big enough to be seen with the naked eye.
Macrosonics
The technology of sound at signal amplitudes so large that linear approximations are not valid.
Madelung Constant
A constant representing the sum of the mutual potential coulombic attractive energy of all the ions in a lattice in the equation for the energy of an ionic crystal.
Magnetic Quantum Number
Quantum number that labels different orbitals within a subshell. m can take on values from - to +.
Magnetohydrodynamics
Academic discipline which studies the dynamics of electrically-conducting fluids and their interactions with magnetic fields.
Magnetosphere
The outermost environment of Earth, dominated by the Earth′s magnetic field.
Magnetron Oscillator
An electron tube that provides a high power output.
Magnitude
The size of a vector quantity.
Majority Carriers
The term used in transistor design to indicate the primary current-movement process.
Malus′ Law
Malus′ law defines the transmitted intensity through 2 polarisers for a given angle between the transmission directions of said polarisers.
Manometer
A U-shaped glass tube, partly filled with a liquid, water or mercury, employed to measure pressure.
Mantle
The main bulk of the Earth, between the crust and the core, ranging from depths of about 40 to 3470 kilometers.
Mars
The fourth planet from the sun in our solar system.
Mass
The SI unit of mass is the kilogram.
Mass Charge Ratio
The ratio of the mass number of an element to the number of electronic charges gained or lost in ionization.
Mass Flow Rate
Defines the volumetric rate with which fluids flow, maintaining the equation of continuity.
Mass Number
The mass number (A) of an atom is the number of protons and neutrons it has in its nucleus.
Mass Spectrometer
An instrument for producing ions in a gas and determining their mass and hence composition.
Mass-Velocity Ratio
A quantity mv/mr expressing the relativistic variation of mass with velocity.
Materials
Lists all Materials topics in the Encyclopaedia
Mathematical Model
A mathematical representation of a process or physical object.
Matter
Anything that has mass.
maxwell
The CGS unit of magnetic flux, equal to 1x10-8weber.
Mean Free Path
For sound waves in an enclosure, it is the average distance travelled between successive reflections.
Measurement
The collection of quantitative data.
Mechanical Energy
Energy in a mechanical form.
Mechanical Energy Storage
The storage of energy in a device such as a spring.
Mechanical Properties
The properties of a material that reveal its elastic and inelastic behaviour where force is applied.
Medium
The vehicle through which a wave travels from one point to the next.
Medium Altitude Orbit
An orbit from 2,000 to 12,000 miles above the earth.
mega
Prefix representing a multiplication of 106
megacycle
One million cycles; one thousand kilocycles.
Megaparsec
One million parsecs.
Megohm
One million ohms.
Meissner Effect
The decrease of the magnetic flux within a superconducting metal when it is cooled below the transition temperature.
Melting Point
The temperature at which a solid substance changes to a liquid state.
Melting Range
The temperature range between solid and liquid.
MEMS
Abbreviation of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems.
Meniscus
The curved surface of a liquid in a container produced by the cohesive forces between the liquid molecules and the adhesive forces between the liquid and the container.
Mensuration
The measurement of lengths, areas and volumes.
Mercury
The planet nearest to the sun in our solar system.
Mercury Barometer
Consists of a closed tube filled with mercury inverted in a mercury reservoir.
Meson
A type of hadron with whole-number units of spin.
Metal
A metal is a substance that conducts heat and electricity, is shiny and reflects many colors of light, and can be hammered into sheets or drawn into wire.
Metallic Radius
The atomic radius from as established by measuring the distances between atoms in metallic crystals.
Metallurgy
The science and technology of metals and alloys.
Metastable
Nonequilibrium state that may persist for a very long time.
Meter
A device used to measure a specific quantity, such as current, voltage, or frequency.
Metonic Calendar
Based on the moon, counting each cycle of the phases of the Moon as one month.
Metrology
The science of dimensional measurement; sometimes includes the science of weighing.
MeV
One million electron volts.
Mho
The unit of conductance, transconductance, or admittance; it is the word ohm spelled backwards.
MHz
Abbreviation of Megahertz, 1000000Hz.
Mica
A group of silicates with similar chemical composition. Used as an electrical insulator.
micro
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-6
Micro Electro Mechanical Systems
A technology dealing with building mechanical structures on silicon wafers using integrated circuit processing techniques.
Microgravity
The condition of near weightlessness induced by free-fall or unpowered space flight. It also refers to the scientific discipline concerned with the evaluation of the processes in a near-zero gravity environment, particularly those of fluid physics, life, and material sciences.
Micrometeorology
The detailed study of the weather at a specific location.
Micron
A derived SI Unit of length equal to 10-6m
Microscopic
Refers to objects that are too small for the unaided eye to see.
Microshock
Small discharges sometimes experienced when touching a metal object in an electric field, similar to touching a door knob after walking across a nylon carpet.
Microwaves
Electromagnetic waves longer than infra-red but shorter than radio.
Mie Potential
Electrical potential
Mie Scattering
Any scattering produced by spherical particles without special regard to comparative size of radiation wavelength and particle diameter.
Milankovich Theory
Theory by which ice ages were caused by slow changes of the motion of the Earth in space.
Mile
A unit of distance most commonly used in Britain and the US.
Miles Per Hour
Traditional British unit of velocity used by land based vehicles.
Miller Indices
A set of three integers that designate crystallographic planes, as determined from reciprocals of fractional axial intercepts.
Miller-Bravis Indices
A set of four integers that designate crystallographic planes in hexagonal crystals.
milli
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-3
Millikan Oil Drop Experiment
A famous experiment designed to measure the electronic charge.
Millisecond
One thousandth of a second, abbreviated ms or msec.
Minority Carriers
The conduction band holes in n-type material and valence band electrons in p-type material.
Minute
The minute is defined as 60 seconds and as 1/60 of a degree.
Mirage
An optical effect that produces an image that looks like it has been reflected from the surface of a body of water.
Mismatch Loss
The loss of power delivered into a load as a result of the interconnection of devices having unequal impedances.
Mixed Dislocation
A dislocation that has both edge and screw components.
mm
An abreviation of millimetre. milli is the prefix representing a multiplication of 10-3 and metre is the SI unit of length.
mmHg
When measuring pressure using a mercury barometer it is normally expressed in mmHg, Hg being the chemical symbol of mercury.
Moderator
A material used to slow down the neutrons in a nuclear reactor.
Moire Fringes
A pattern formed by the interference between two regular sets of divisions.
Molar Gas Constant
R = 8.31441 JK-1mol-1
Molar Volume
The volume occupied by one mole of a substance under specified conditions.
Mole
The SI unit of the Amount of Substance. It is the amount of substance of a system which contains as many elementary entities as there are atoms in 0.012 kilogram of carbon 12.
Mole Fraction
The number of moles of a particular substance expressed as a fraction of the total number of moles.
Moments of Inertia
Principal axes for bodies of uniform density.
Monochromatic
Radiation that has a single wavelength.
Moon
Basic Moon data.
Mossbauer Spectrometer
An instrument that provides information on the bonding of an atom in a mineral by bombarding it with gamma rays.
Most Significant Bit (MSB)
The bit within a digital word that represents the biggest possible single-bit coded value.
Motive Power
A natural agent, as water, steam, wind, electricity, etc., used to impart motion to machinery; a motor; a mover.
Motor Rule
Also known as Fleming′s Left Hand Rule, this is a way of determining the direction of a force on a current carrying conductor in a magnetic field.
Mpa
Abbreviation of megapascal.
Mpc
Abbreviation of Megaparsec, one million parsecs.
mph
Abbreviation of miles per hour, traditional British unit of velocity used by land based vehicles.
ms
Abbreviation of millisecond, one thousandth of a second.
ms-1
Derived SI unit of velocity, metre per second.
MSB
Abbreviation of Most Significant Bit, the bit within a digital word that represents the biggest possible single-bit coded value.
mu
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
Mumetal
An alloy of high magnetic permeability containing up to 78% nickel with iron, copper and manganese.
Muon
A type of lepton; often called a heavy electron.
Mutual Conductance
The ratio of the current at the output port and the voltage at the input ports.
Mutual Flux
The total flux in the core of a transformer that is common to both the primary and secondary windings.
mV
An abbreviation of millivolt, a unit of electrical potential equal to one thousandth of a volt.
N
An abbreviation of Newton, the SI unit of force.
n
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-9
nano
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-9. From the ancient Greek word "nanos" or "dwarf".
Natural Frequency
The frequency of free vibration of a system.
Natural Horizon
The line-of-sight horizon.
Nautical Mile
The average distance on the earth's surface subtended by one minute of latitude.
Navier Stokes Equation
The primary equation of computational fluid dynamics, relating pressure and external forces acting on a fluid to the response of the fluid flow.
Nd2Fe14B
Chemical formula for Neodymium Iron Boron.
Near Synchronous Orbit
An orbit in which the satellite rotates close to but not exactly at the same speed as the earth.
Nebula
A cloud of dust and gas in space which is visible to observers on the Earth because it either emits, reflects or absorbs starlight.
Neptune
The outermost gas giant in our solar system.
Neumann′s Law
The symmetry of the physical properties of a crystal must include the symmetry of the point group of the crystal.
Neutral Beam
An energetic beam of neutral particles.
Neutral Equilibrium
A body is in neutral equilibrium if it stays in the displaced position after if has been displaced slightly.
Neutrino
A neutral lepton; one exists for each of the charged leptons (electron, muon, and tau).
New General Catalogue
A catalogue of non-stellar celestial objects that was compiled by JLE Dreyer of Armagh Observatory and published in 1888.
Newton, Isaac
Newton was a mathematician and natural philosopher (physicist).
Newtonian Fluid
A fluid whose viscosity does not depend on gradients in flow speed.
Newton′s Law of Universal Gravitation
Every particle in the Universe attracts every other with a force which is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of their seperation.
Newtons Laws of Motion
Sir Isaac Newton published Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687 containing the three basic laws of motion.
NGC
Abbreviation of New General Catalogue, a catalogue of non-stellar celestial objects that was compiled by JLE Dreyer of Armagh Observatory and published in 1888.
Nobel Prize
Awarded annually as per Alfred Nobel′s last will and testament.
Node
A point or line on a vibrating structure that remains stationary.
Noether Theorem
Demonstrates that symmetries are what gives rise to conserved quantities.
Noise
Noise is any undesired signal.
Noncrystalline
The solid state wherein there is no long-range atomic order. Sometimes used synonymously with the terms amorphous, glassy and vitreous.
Noninertial Reference System
Any reference system in which the law of inertia is not valid.
Nonluminous Bodies
Objects that either reflect or diffuse light that falls upon them.
Non-Newtonian Fluid
A fluid whose viscosity changes when the gradient in flow speed changes.
Nonpolar
Having a relatively even or symmetrical distribution of charge.
Nonstationary
A characteristic of a time series for which the distribution changes over time.
Normal Emittance
Emittance in a direction perpendicular to the surface or in a small solid angle whose axial ray is perpendicular to the surface.
North Pole
That end of the axis of rotation of a celestial body at which, when viewed from above, the body appears to rotate in a counter-clockwise direction.
Northern Lights
Common name for the Aurora or Aurora Borealis, a faint visual phenomenon associated with geomagnetic activity.
N-Type Thermocouple
Nicrosil-Nisil thermocouple with a temperature range of -200 to 1200°C.
nu
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
Nuclear and Particle Physics
Lists all Particle Physics topics in the Encyclopaedia
Nuclear Binding Energy
Energy needed to break an atomic nucleus into separate protons and neutrons.
Nuclear Cross Section
The effective area that a given nucleus presents as a target to a bombarding particle, giving a measure of the probability that the particle will induce a reaction.
Nuclear Energy
Energy stored in the nucleas of an atom.
Nuclear Equations
Show the changes that take place in the nuclei.
Nuclear Fusion
The combining of light nuclei to form a heavier nucleus.
Nuclear Reaction
A reaction involving the nucleus of an atom that alters the energy, composition or structure of the atom.
Nuclear Reactor
An apparatus in which nuclear fission may be sustained in a self supporting chain reaction.
Nucleation
The initial stage in a phase transformation.
Nuclei
The plural of nucleus, the central part of an atom that contains the protons and neutrons.
Nucleon
Either a proton or a neutron.
Nucleus
The central part of an atom that contains the protons and neutrons.
Nuclide
An atom or ion with a specified mass number and atomic number.
Null
A low or minimum point on a graph. A minimum pressure region in a room.
Null Hypothesis
Proposes a general or default position, such as that there is no relationship between two measured phenomena, or that a potential treatment has no effect.
Nutation
The oscillation of the axis of any rotating body, as a gyroscope rotor.
Observation
Observations refer to repeated values of a data variable. The rows of a column represent the observations.
Occams Razor
The suggestion that the simpler a theory is, the better it is.
Occultation
Interruption of the light from an object to an observer when a body in interposed.
Octahedral Position
The void space among closed-packed, hard sphere atoms or ions for which there are six nearest neighbours.
Oersted
The unit of magnetizing force representing the magnetic field intensity at a distance of 1 centimeter in air or vacuum from the unit magnetic pole.
Ohm
Defined as the resistance of a conductor through which a current of one ampere is flowing when the potential difference across it is one volt.
Ohms per Square
The resistance of any square area of thin film resistive material as measured between two parallel sides.
omega
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
omicron
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
Opaque
Substances that do not transmit (pass) any light rays.
Opposition
The point at which a planet that is further away from the Sun than the Earth.
Orbit
The path of a body in space, generally under the influence of gravity.
Orbit Acquisition
Reception of the telemetry containing the information about the orbital parameters of the spacecraft.
Orbital
A wavefunction that describes what an electron with a given energy is doing inside an atom or molecule.
Orbital Angular Momentum Quantum Number
Also known as Angular Momentum Quantum Number.
Orbital Equation
Also known as Kepler′s first law; The orbit of each planet is an ellipse which has the sun at one of its foci.
Ordered System
A system with an arrangement belonging to a group with the smallest number (possibly one) of equivalent arrangements.
Ornithopter
A flying machine that is supposed to support itself in the air through the use of flapping wings.
Orthogonal
Mutually perpendicular.
Oscillation
Oscillation is the variation, usually with time, of the magnitude of a quantity with respect to a specified reference.
Oscilloscope
An instrument using a cathode-ray tube for visual display of electric signals.
Out of Phase
The offset in time of two related signals.
Outcome Space
Another name for Sample Space.
oz
A secondary unit in the British system of units. 1 ounce (oz) = 28.34952 g
p
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-12
P
Prefix representing a multiplication of 1015
P
The abbreviation of poise, the CGS derived unit of dynamic viscosity of a fluid.
Packing Density
The fractionof a volume filled by a given collection of solids.
Pair Annihilation
When a particle encounters its antiparticle, they annihilate each other, disappearing in a burst of photons.
Pair Production
The conversion of energy into matter in which a particle and its antiparticle are produced.
Paradox
A statement that appears to contradict itself, for example, suggesting a solution which is actually impossible.
Parallax
Change in the apparent position of objects when viewed from two widely separated positions.
Parsec
1 Parsec = 3.2615 Light Years
Partial Pressures
The pressure exerted by a certain gas in a mixture.
Partial Vacuum
A volume that contains traces of gas at very low pressure.
Partition Function
A central construct in statistics and statistical mechanics, and it is a bridge between thermodynamics and quantum mechanics because it is formulated as a sum over the energies of states of a macroscopic system at a given temperature.
Parts Per Million
Used to describe the amount of a trace element or substance present in the main substance.
Pascal
The SI derived unit of pressure.
Pascal′s Law
When an external pressure is applied to any confined fluid at rest, the pressure is increased at every point in the fluid by the amount of external pressure applied.
Paschen Series
The series which describes the emission spectrum of hydrogen when the electron is jumping to the third orbital.
Passive Satellite
A satellite that reflects radio signals back to earth.
pc
An abbreviation of Parsec, 1 Parsec = 3.2615 Light Years
PCT Theorem
The proposition that all the laws of physics are unchanged by the combined operations of charge conjugation (C), space inversion (P), and time reversal (T).
pdl
An abbreviation of poundal, a derived unit of force in the British system of units.
Peltier Effect
The change in temperature produced at a junction between two dissimilar metals or semiconductors when an electric current passes through the junction.
Pendulums
There are a number of different forms of pendulum. The main characteristic being that when the mass is displaced from it's position of rest it will oscillate at a fixed frequency.
Pennyweight
An old unit of mass equal to 24 grains.
penumbra
The transition region between the darkest shadow and full brightness.
Perceived Colour
Also known as visual colour is the quality of light emission as conveyed by the human eye, combining the impressions of 3 types of light-sensitive cells which the eye contains.
Perfect Gas
A gas that obeys the ideal gas law.
Perfect Radiator
A Black Body radiator.
Period
The time taken for a full cycle of motion in a system executing harmonic motion.
Periodic
A term used to refer to a pattern of motion which repeats exactly after a given interval or period.
Permeability of Free Space
μ0 = 4πx10-7 Hm-1
Permeance
The property which determines the magnitude of magnetic flux in a material.
Permittivity
The proportionality constant between the dielectric displacement D and the electric field E.
Permittivity of Free Space
ε0 = 8.85419x10-12 Fm-1
Persistence
The length of time a phosphor dot glows on a CRT before disappearing.
Peta
Prefix representing a multiplication of 1015
pF
Abbreviation of picofarad, the farad is the SI unit of capacitance.
Pfund Series
The series which describes the emission spectrum of hydrogen when the electron is jumping to the fifth orbital.
Phase
Phase identifies the position at any instant which a periodic wave occupies in its cycle. A portion of a material system whose properties and composition are homogeneous and which is physically distinct from other parts of the system.
Phase Change
The change from gas to liquid to solid.
Phase Rule
This states that the maximum number of phases (P) that may coexist at equilibrium is two plus the number of components (C) in the mixture minus the number of degrees of freedom (F): P + F = C + 2.
Phase Velocity
The velocity with which planes of equal phase, crests or troughs, progress through the medium.
phi
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
Phlogiston
A hypothetical elastic fluid which was seen as a metalizing and combustible principle.
Photoelectric Effect
The ejection of electrons from metallic surfaces by illuminating light.
Photoluminescence
Luminescence caused by absorption of optical radiation.
Photons
Massless packet of energy, which behaves like both a wave and a particle.
Photosphere
The layer of the Sun from which all visible light reaches us.
Physical Constants
From Avogadro's number to the speed of light in vacuo.
Physics Books
Lists all Physics Books in the Encyclopaedia
Physics Calculations
Lists all Physics Calculations in the Encyclopaedia
Physics Conversions
Lists all Physics Conversions in the Encyclopaedia
Physics Weblinks
Lists all Physics Weblinks in the Encyclopaedia
pico
Prefix representing a multiplication of 10-12
picosecond
A period of time equal to 10-12 seconds.
Picture
Visual representation of something.
Piezoelectric
Any material which provides a conversion between mechanical and electrical energy.
Pint
A derived British unit of volume.
Pion
The least massive meson.
Pixel
Single picture element of a detection device.
Planck Radiation Law
A law which described blackbody radiation better than its predecessor, thus resolving the ultraviolet catastrophe.
Plancks Constant
h = 6.62620x10-34Js
Plane of Polarization
The plane, with respect to the earth, in which the E field propagates.
Plane Wave
Wave in which the wavefronts are everywhere parallel planes normal to the direction of propagation.
Planet
A spherical ball of rock and/or gas that orbits a star.
Planetary Nebula
A bright cloud of dust and gas surrounding an old star, namely a red giant.
Plasma
The fourth state of matter in which one or more electrons have been stripped from the atoms forming an ion gas.
Plasma Discharge
Low-density, low-temperature plasma discharge such as in a fluorescent tube.
Plasma Frequency
The natural collective oscillation frequency of a charge species in a plasma, in the absence of a magnetic field.
Plasma Wave
A disturbance of a plasma away from equilibrium, involving oscillations of the plasma′s constituent particles and/or the electromagnetic field.
Plastic Deformation
Deformation that is permanent or nonrecoverable after release of the applied load.
Plato
A Greek philosopher, pupil of Socrates and Aristotle′s teacher.
Pluto
The outermost planet in our solar system and it′s double Charon.
Poiseuilles Equation
Gives the volume flow rate of an incompressible fluid in a round pipe.
Poisson Equation
A fundamental equation of mathematical physics, describing the spatial variation of a potential function for given source terms.
Poisson Spot
Poisson originally predicted the existence of the arago spot, and used the prediction to demonstrate how the wave theory of light must be in error to produce such a counterintuitive result.
Poissons Ratio
Ratio of strain in the lateral direction to strain in the axial direction.
Polar Orbiting Satellite
An artificial satellite that has an orbit that travels over the vicinity of the geographic poles.
Polariser
A polariser is a device which absorbs all the components of an electro-magnetic field in one direction leaving only the components perpendicular to that of polariser axis.
Polarization
For an atom, the displacement of the centre of the negatively charged electron cloud relative to the positive nucleus, which is induced by an electric field.
Pole
An old English unit of length or the coldest regions on a planet.
Pole Piece
The shaped magnetic material upon which the stator windings of motors and generators are mounted or wound.
Pole Strength
The concept of an isolated magnetic pole (magnetic monopole) has been abandoned. However, it is used as a concept in magnetometry. Pole strength is defined as that which when placed in a unit induction experiences a force of 1 newton.
Positive Temperature Coefficient
The characteristic of a conductor in which the resistance increases as temperature increases.
Positron
The antiparticle of the electron.
Potential Barrier
The internal resistance of a transistor related to the internal potential existing between NP junctions.
Potential Difference
The difference of potential produced by an electrical source to drive a current through an external electrical circuit.
Potential Energy
The energy a body possesses due to it's position or the arrangement of it's parts.
Potentiometer
A variable resistor with three terminals-one on each end of the resistor and one "wiper" which contacts the resistor midpoint to indicate a variable position.
Pound
The unit of mass in the British system of units.
Pound Force
pound-force (lbf) = 4.44822 N
Poundal
A derived unit of force in the British system of units.
Power
Power is defined as the rate of doing work.
Power Spectral Density
A method of scaling the amplitude axis of spectra of random rather than deterministic signals.
ppm
Abbreviation for Parts Per Million.
Prandtl Number
A dimensionless group often used in heat exchange calculations.
Prebiotic
Related to the period before life appears on a planet.
Precession
A modern term, derived from the precession of the equinoxes and meaning a motion around a cone of the rotation axis of a spinning body.
Precession Vector
In a gyro, a vector representing the angular change of the spin axis when torque is applied.
Precipitation
The conversion of a dissolved substance into insoluble form by chemical or physical means.
Pressure
Defined as the force exerted per unit area.
Pressure Gradient
The change in pressure per unit of distance.
Primal Glow
Believed to be the cosmologically redshifted radiation released by the Big Bang itself.
Primary Energy Source
An energy source that occurs naturally eg fossil fuels, biofuels, wind energy, solar.
Primary Reference Temperatures
A number of boiling and freezing points are used to define the thermodynamic temperature scale.
Prime Verical Circle
Passes through the east and west points of the horizon.
Principal Quantum Number
The number related to the amount of energy an electron has and therefore describing which shell the electron is in.
Principal Vertical Circle
Passes through the north and south points of the horizon and coincides with the celestial meridian.
Principle of Uniformity
The principle that the laws of physics here and now are not different from the laws of physics in previous or future epochs of time, or elsewhere in the Universe.
Projectile Motion
A type of motion that occurs near the surface of the Earth when the only force acting on the object is that of gravity.
Prony
Unit of power.
Propagation
Waves traveling through a medium.
Proper Time
The time interval measured by an observer in his own reference frame.
Proportional Limit
The point on a stress-strain curve at which the straight line proportionality between stress and strain ceases.
Propulsion
Process by which something can be moved by producing a reaction with a force of thrust.
Protoplanet
Any of the sun′s planets as it emerged or existed in the formative period of the solar system.
Protoplanetary Disc
The disc of dust surrounding a star out of which planets might form.
Protosun
The sun as it emerged in the formation of the solar system.
PSD
A method of scaling the amplitude axis of spectra of random rather than deterministic signals.
psi
A letter of the Greek alphabet.
Ptolemy
He believed that Earth was the centre of the universe and that everything orbited it.
Ptolemy′s System
The explanation given by ancient Greek astronomers to the motion of planets around the sky, described in a book by the Greek Ptolemy, around 150 AD.
Pulley
A disc with a groove around its circumference to locate a rope or cable and is used to change the direction of a force and/or multiply the force.
Pulsar
A stellar source, such as a rotating single star or pair of stars, emitting electromagnetic radiation which is characterised by rapid frequency and regularity.
PV Diagram
A plot of pressure vs. volume.
Pyranometer
An instrument which measures global radiation, the combined intensity of direct solar radiation and diffuse sky radiation.
Pyrgeometer
An instrument which measures the effective terrestrial radiation.
Pyrheliometer
An instrument which measures the intensity of direct solar radiation.
Pyrheliometry
The science and study of pyrheliometric measurements.
Pyroelectricity
Electric charge produced as a material undergoes a temperature change.
Pythagoras
Greek philosopher and mathematician; held that numbers were basic to matter.
Q
The quality factor defines the sharpness of resonance.
QED
Abbreviation for quod erat demonstrandum, used to denote the end of a proof.
Quality Factor
The quality factor defines the sharpness of resonance.
Quanta
The plural of quantum, the smallest unit of a discrete property.
Quantum
The smallest unit of a discrete property.
Quantum Charge Ratio
h/e = 4.135708x10-15 JsC-1
Quantum Mechanics
The rules for the behavior of particles at the atomic and subatomic levels.
Quantum Number
A number giving the value of a quantized quantity.
Quasi Static
Refers to forces or displacements which vary slowly with time.
Quiet Sun
The sun when it is free from unusual radio wave or thermal radiation such as that associated with sunspots.
Quintal
A hundredweight in the metric system, 100kg.
R
The constant that appears in the ideal gas equation.
Rad
The rad is a unit used to measure absorbed radiation dose.
Radar
A method, system, or technique of using beamed, reflected, and timed radio waves for detecting, locating, or tracking objects.
Radial Motion
Motion along a radius, or a component in such a direction.
Radian
The radian is the plane angle between two radii of a circle which cut off on the circumference an arc equal in length to the radius.
Radiancy
The rate of radiant-energy emission for a unit area of a source in all the radial directions of the overspreading hemisphere.
Radiant Intensity
Energy of radiation striking a unit area per unit time.
Radiation
This is the electromagnetic radiation emitted by a body as a function of its temperature.
Radiation Absorbed Dose
The rad is a unit used to measure absorbed radiation dose.
Radiation Belt
An envelope of charged particles trapped in the magnetic field of a spatial body.
Radiation Field
The electromagnetic field that radiates from an antenna and travels through space.
Radiation Intensity
Another name for Radiant Intensity.
Radiation Losses
The losses that occur when magnetic lines of force about a conductor are projected into space as radiation and are not returned to the conductor as the cycle alternates.
Radio Clock
A clock that automatically synchronizes to a signal received by radio.
Radio Frequency
Any frequency of electromagnetic energy capable of propagation into space.
Radio Horizon
The boundary beyond the natural horizon in which radio waves cannot be propagated over the earth′s surface.
Radioactive Decay
The spontaneous change of an atomic nucleus accompanied by the emission of alpha, beta particles or gamma radiation.
Radioactivity
Spontaneous emission of particles or high-energy electromagnetic radiation from the nuclei of unstable atoms.
Radiometry
A branch of science which deals with the measurement of radiation.
Radiosity Equation
Used in the construction of realistically lit scenes in computer graphics.
Random Noise
A noise signal, commonly used in measurements, which has constantly shifting amplitude, phase, and a uniform spectral distribution of energy.
Random Process
A random process is a collection of time-history records that can be described by appropriate statistical parameters, such as averaged properties of these records at a number of fixed times.
Rankine Temperature Scale
An absolute scale of temperature based on degrees Farenheit.
Rankine-Hugoniot Shock Relations
These are solutions for a steady, normal shock in the frame moving with the shock front.
Rarefaction
A decrease in density and pressure in a medium, such as air, caused by the passage of a sound wave.
Rarefied Wave
A longitudinal wave that has been expanded or rarefied as it moves away from the source.
Rayl
The Rayl is the SI derived unit of specific acoustic impedance.
Rayleigh Distribution
An example is the variation of wave height in a sea where swell is the main component.
Rayleigh Scattering
Scattering of radiation in the course of its passage through a medium containing particles, the sizes of which are small compared with the wavelength of the radiation.
Rayleigh Waves
These are also known as surface waves.
Rayleigh-Jeans Law
A law describing blackbody radiation.
Rayleigh′s Method
A method used for calculating approximate natural frequencies for a vibrating system assuming a deflected shape and balancing kinetic and strain energies.
Reaction
A reaction is a force exerted by a support on an object: sometimes called support reaction.
Reactor
Vessel which contains nuclear or chemical reactions.
Real Gas Effects
A gas behavior or phenomena resulting from the interactions of gas molecules.
Reaumur Temperature Scale
On the Reaumur temperature scale, abbreviated to R, the ice point is 0°R and the steam point is 80°R.
Reciprocity
If in a space filled with air which is partly bounded by finitely extended fixed bodies and is partly unbounded, sound waves being excited at any point A, the resulting velocity-potential at a second point B is the same both in magnitude and phase, as it would have been at A, had B been the source of the sound.
Recombination Era
The time when matter and radiation first separated.
Recrystallization
The formation of a new set of strain-free grains within a previously cold-worked material; normally an annealing heat treatment is necessary.
Red Giant
An old star that has used up all the hydrogen in its nucleus and uses other elements as fuel to keep shining.
Red Supergiant
A supergiant with spectral type M. These are the largest stars in the universe.
Redshift
When the light an object emits is displaced toward the red end of the spectrum it is said to be redshifted.
Reference System
A collection of objects not moving relative to each other that can be used to describe the motion of other objects.
Reflected Wave
The portion of the wave that has been reflected.
Reflection
Reflection occurs when a wave is incident upon an opaque surface.
Refractory
A metal or ceramic that may be exposed to extremely high temperatures without deteriorating rapidly or without melting.
Regelation
The phenomenon of melting under pressure and freezing again when the pressure is reduced.
Relative Humidity
The ratio of the absolute humidity to the humidity at saturation.
Relativistic Kinetic Energy
The energy that a body possesses solely because it is moving.
Remanence
The magnetic induction that remains in a magnetic circuit after the removal of an applied magnetizing force. If there is an air gap in the circuit, the remanence will be less than the residual induction.
Renewable Energy
Energy obtained from sources that are essentially inexhaustible, unlike fossil fuels.
Repeatability
The consistency (or variation) of readings and results between consecutive sets of measurements.
Repulsive Force
The mechanical force tending to separate bodies having like electrical charges or like magnetic polarity.
Resistance
The electrical resistance of a conductor.
Resistivity
The resistance measured in ohms of a unit volume of a substance to the flow of electric current.
Resolution
The smallest change or amount a measurement system can detect.
Resonant Frequency
Any system has a resonance at some particular frequency.
Resonant Line
A transmission line that has standing waves of current and voltage.
Rest Energy
Rest energy is the energy an object has due to its mass.
Retrograde
The motion of a planet or other Solar System body in a clockwise direction.
Revolutions per Minute
Unit to describe the rate of rotation of a body.
Revolutions per Second
Unit to describe the rate of rotation of a body.
Reyn
British unit of dynamic viscosity.
Reynolds Number
This is a non-dimensional number (consistent units) which describes whether fluid flow is laminar, turbulent, or transitional between the two.
RF
Abbreviation of Radio Frequency.
RF Radiation Hazard
A health hazard caused by exposure to electromagnetic radiation or highenergy particles.
RGB
Abbreviation of Red, Green, Blue.
Roche Limit
The position around a massive body where the tidal forces due to the gravity of the primary equal or exceed the surface gravity of a given satellite.
Rod
An old English unit of length.
Rotation
Motion of an object where the path of every point is a circle or circular arc.
Round-Off Error
The error accumulated during a calculation due to rounding intermediate results.
rpm
Abbreviation of revolutions per minute.
rps
Abbreviation of revolutions per second.
Rutherford, Ernest
The pioneers of subatomic physics.
Sagnac Effect
First discovered in 1913 by Georges Sagnac, it involves sending two beams of light in opposite directions around a closed path and then using a detector to examine the beams when they arrive back at the starting point.
Sample Space
The set of all possible outcomes of a given experiment.
Sand
A term generally given to rock with a grain size between 1/16mm and 2mm.
Satellite
An object in an orbit around a planet.
Satellite Eclipse
An eclipse where the rays of the sun do not reach the satellite.
Satellite Sun Conjunction
A period when the satellite and sun are close together and the noise from the sun prevents or hampers communications.
Saturated Liquid
Purely liquid, but at the saturation temperature any additional heat will cause some vapourisation.
Saturated Solution
A solution which does not dissolve any more solute.
Saturated Vapour
Vapour in equilibrium with its liquid.
Saturation
An overwhelming concentration.
Saturation Pressure
That pressure at which vapour and liquid, or vapour and solid, can coexist in stable equilibrium.
Saturation Temperature
The temperature at which no further moisture can be added to the air water vapour mixture, equal to the dew point temperature.
Saturn
The sixth planet from the sun in our solar system.
Scale Effect
Any variation in the nature of the flow and in the force coefficients associated with a change in value of the Reynolds number.
Scattering
The irregular diffraction and reflection of waves in many directions.
Schlieren
An optical technique that detects density gradients occurring in a fluid flow.
Schuler Pendulum
A hypothetical pendulum with a period of 84 minutes.
Schuler Tuning
Adjusting a system performing the function of a pendulum so that is has a period of 84 minutes.
Schwarzschild Black Hole
A nonrotating, spherical black hole that has no electric charge.
Scientific Notation
Numbers entered as a number from one to ten multiplied by a power of ten.
Scintillation Counter
A scintillation counter consists of a material that emits light when radiation passes through it.
Scruple
An old unit of weight.
Second Class Lever
The load is situated between the fulcrum and the applied force.
Secondary Energy Source
An energy source such as electricity that is made using a primary energy source.
Secondary Radiation
Electromagnetic or particulate radiation resulting from absorption of other radiation in matter.
Seebeck Effect
The principle that describes how a thermocouple works.
Seiche
An oscillation of a fluid body in response to a disturbing force having the same frequency as the natural frequency of the fluid system.
Selenoid
A satellite of the earth′s moon, no such satellites are known.
Selenology
That branch of astronomy that treats of the moon.
SEM
Abbreviation of Scanning Electron Microscope.
Semiconductors
Lists all Semiconductors topics in the Encyclopaedia
Sensible Energy
The internal energy of a system associated with kinetic energies (molecular translation, rotation, and vibration; electron translation and spin; and nuclear spin) of the molecules.
Seyfert Galaxy
Type of galaxy with a point-like nucleus and very faint spiral arms, first described in 1943 by American astrophysicist Carl Seyfert.
Sferics
The study of atmospherics, especially from a meteorological point of view.
Sferics Fix
The estimated location of a source of atmospherics, presumably a lightning discharge.
sg
Abbreviation of specific gravity.
Shadow
Darkness in a region, caused by an obstruction between the source of light and the region.
Shadowgraph
A picture or image in which steep density gradients in the flow about a body are made visible.
Shear Wave
The axis of vibration is perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the wave.
Shed
A unit of nuclear cross-section.
Short Circuited Line
A transmission line that has a terminating impedance equal to 0.
Signal Generator
A circuit that produces a variable and controllable signal.
Signs and Symbols
A list of signs and symbols.
Silicon Controlled Rectifier
A semiconductor device that functions as an electrically controlled switch.
Simple Cubic
Of all the elements only polonium crystallizes to a simple cubic structure over a limited temperature range.
Simple Pendulum
The mass hung on a fine wire, displaced from rest and released.
Simultaneity Principle
The principle that all frames of reference will have invariant simultaneity.
Skin Effect
In the case of high frequency signals, electrons are only conducted on the outer surface, or skin, of a conductor.
Skin Temperature
The outer surface temperature of a body.
Slush Hydrogen
A mixture of liquid and frozen hydrogen that is denser than liquid hydrogen.
Slush Oxygen
A mixture of liquid and frozen oxygen that is denser than liquid oxygen.
Snells Law
Snells law defines the angle of refraction of a light beam when it passes from one medium to another.
Socrates
Greek philosopher; emphasized the study of human nature in relationship to society.
Soft X-Rays
Band of low energy X-rays, between 0.1 keV and approximately 5 keV.
Solar Data
Equatorial radius, mass, solar constant,…
Solar Day
The day defined as one revolution of the Earth on its axis with respect to the Sun.
Solar Eclipse
When the Earth enters the Moon′s shadow as the Moon moves wholly or partially in front of the Sun as seen from Earth.
Solar Flare
Sudden violent explosion on the Sun which occurs above complex active regions in the photosphere.
Solar Irradiance
The direct, diffuse, and reflected solar radiation that strikes a surface. Usually expressed in kilowatts per square meter. Irradiance multiplied by time equals insolation.
Solar Spectrum
The total distribution of electromagnetic radiation emanating from the sun.
Solar Storm
Violent outburst of explosive activity on the Sun.
Solar System
Meaning our sun and all of the bodies that orbit the sun.
Solidification
The change from liquid state to solid state upon cooling through the melting temperature or melting range.
Solidification Range
The temperature between the liquidus and solidus.
Sonic
Pertaining to sounds capable of being heard by the human ear.
Source
The object that produces the wave or disturbance.
Space Charge
An electrical charge distributed throughout a volume or space.
Space Diversity
Reception of radio waves by two or more antennas spaced some distance apart.
Space Weather
The changing conditions in interplanetary space caused by fluctuations in the solar wind.
Specific Gas Constant
This is the molar gas constant divided by the molecular weight of the gas in question.
Specific Humidity
Ratio of weight of vapour to the weight of gas in a unit volume of an air-water vapour mixture.
Specific Impulse
A performance parameter of a rocket engine, the thrust F in pounds divided by the weight flow rate in pounds per second.
Specific Resistance
The resistance measured in ohms of a unit volume of a substance to the flow of electric current.
Spectrometer
An instrument which measure the position of spectral lines.
Spectrophotometer
An instrument which determines the energy distribution in a spectrum.
Spectroscopy
Study of a radiation spectrum, emitted, absorbed or diffused.
Spectrum Analysis
The display of electromagnetic energy arranged according to wavelength or frequency.
Specular Reflections
Mirrorlike reflections of sound from a flat surface.
Speed of Sound
Depends on the elastic and inertial properties of the particular medium.
Spin-Orbit Effect
An effect that causes atomic energy levels to be split because electrons have intrinsic angular momentum in addition to their extrinsic orbital angular momentum.
Spintronics
Computer processor that uses the spin of the electron to carry information rather than the charge.
Sporadic E Layer
Irregular, cloud-like patches of unusually high ionization.
St
Abbreviation of stokes, the CGS unit of kinematic viscosity.
Stability
The ability to maintain normal characteristics.
Standard Cell
A non-rechargeable cell whose emf is accurately known and remains sufficiently constant.
Standard Molar Volume
The volume of 1 mole of an ideal gas at STP, equal to 22.414 litres.
Standard Temperature and Pressure
Often abbreviated as stp or STP it is a temperature of 0°C and a pressure of 101325Nm-2.
Star
A ball of mostly hydrogen and helium gas that shines extremely brightly. Our Sun is a star.
Starburst Galaxy
Galaxy in which a large burst of star formation is observed.
Stat-
Prefix to a unit in the obsolete electrostatic system of units.
Stathenry
The unit of inductance in the obsolete electrostatic system of units.
Static Electricity
Stationary electricity that is in the form of a charge.
Static Limit
The distance from a rotating black hole where no observer can possibly remain at rest.
Statmho
The unit of conductane in the obsolete electrostatic system of units.
Statohm
The unit of resistance in the obsolete electrostatic system of units.
Statute Mile
A unit of distance most commonly used in Britain and the US.
Stefan-Boltzmann Constant
σ = 5.67x10-8 Wm-2K-4
Stellar Wind
A steady or unsteady outflow of material from the surface of a star.
Step Down Transformer
A transformer so constructed that the number of turns in the secondary winding is less than the number of turns in the primary winding.
Step Response
The response of a system to an instantaneous jump in the input signal.
Step Up Transformer
A transformer so constructed that the number of turns in the secondary winding is more than the number of turns in the primary winding.
Stereoscopic
Pertaining to the use of binocular vision.
Sthene
The unit of force in the metre-tonne-second system.
Stimulated Emission
The emission of a photon from an atom due to the presence of an incident photon.
Stored Mechanical Energy
Energy stored in objects through the application of force eg springs.
Storm Glasses
Name given to a water based barometer.
Stratified Fluid
In a stratified fluid the density varies with depth.
Stratosphere
Located between the troposphere and the ionosphere.
Stratum Clock
A clock in a telecommunications system or network that is assigned a number that indicates its quality and position in the timing hierarchy.
String Theory
A theory of elementary particles incorporating relativity and quantum mechanics in which the particles are viewed not as points but as extended objects.
Strouhal Number
A dimensionless unit.
Subcritical
A chain reaction that dies out because an average of less than one neutron from each fission reaction causes another fission reaction.
Sublimation
The transition of a substance directly from the solid phase to the vapour phase, or in reverse, without going through the liquid phase.
Sunspot
An area on the surface of the sun marked by a lower temperature than its surroundings and that has magnetic activity.
Super Cooling
The cooling of a liquid below its freezing temperature without the formation of the solid phase.
Supercluster
A cluster of clusters of galaxies which stretches for hundreds of millions of light years.
Superconductivity
The phenomena by which, at sufficiently low temperatures, a conductor can conduct charge with zero resistance.
Supercooled
Liquids at temperatures below their normal freezing points are said to be "supercooled".
Supercritical
A chain reaction that grows rapidly because an average of more than one neutron from each fission reaction causes another fission reaction.
Superfluidity
The phenomena by which, at sufficiently low temperatures, a fluid can flow with zero viscosity.
Supergiant
A star with a higher luminosity and a larger radius than a giant of the same spectral classification.
Surface Combustion
A method of causing a mixture of air and gas to burn by bringing it into contact with a suitable porous surface.
Surface Tension
Small droplets or bubbles of one fluid immersed in another fluid have a spherical shape because of the interfacial tension, or surface tension, between the two fluids.
Surfactant
A material that spreads along a surface, changing the properties of the surface.
Swing By
A particular manoeuvre that exploits the gravitational force of a moon or a planet to modify the trajectory of a spacecraft and to boost it into space.
Synchronous Orbit
An orbit in which the satellite moves or rotates at the same speed as the earth.
Synchronous Rotation
The Moon about the same amount of time to rotate on its axis as it does to complete an orbit of the Earth, thus always presenting the same side to Earth.
Synchrotron Radiation
Electromagnetic radiation emitted by a very high-energy electron, moving in a magnetic field.
Tablespoon
A convenient unit of capacity.
Tachyon
A tachyon is a theoretical particle that always travels faster than light.
Tardon
A particle which has a positive real mass and travels at a speed less than c in all inertial frames.
TCP Theorem
The proposition that all the laws of physics are unchanged by the combined operations of charge conjugation (C), space inversion (P), and time reversal (T).
Teaspoon
A convenient unit of capacity.
Technical Atmosphere
A metric unit of pressure equal to one kilogram of force per square centimetre.
TEM
An abbreviation of Transmission Electron Microscope.
Temperature
A measure as to whether two bodies are hot or cold relative to one another.
Temperature Coefficient
The amount of change of a parameter per unit change in temperature.
Temperature Humidity Index
Actual temperature and humidity of air sample compared to air at standard conditions.
Temperature Resolution
The minimum change in temperature that can be detected.
Temporal
An adjective meaning "pertaining to time"
Termination Shock
Particles from the Sun begin to slow and clash with matter from the sparse gas found between the stars.
Terrestrial Planet
One of four rocky planets found within the inner solar system.
Test Parameter
A specified component, property, or condition of a test procedure.
TeV
Abbreviation of Tera electron Volt.
Theory of Relativity
Lists all Theory of Relativity topics in the Encyclopaedia
Thermie
Unit of heat energy.
Thermion
A thermion is an electrically charged particle emitted from a heated body.
Thermionic Emission
The production of electron emission by thermal means.
Thermocline
A vertical temperature gradient in some layer of a body of water, which is appreciably greater than the gradients above and below it.
Thermodynamics
The study of energy transfers and transformations.
Thermoelectric Cooling
Cooling based on the Peltier effect.
Thermoelectric Device
Most use the Seebeck effect – devices similar to Peltier devices, but applying hot and cold sources to the surfaces.
Thermoelectricity
Phenomena in which a temperature difference creates an electric potential or an electric potential creates a temperature difference.
Thermohygrograph
An instrument for measuring humidity and temperature.
Thermoluminescence
The luminescence produced in a solid when its temperature is raised.
Thermometry
The science of temperature measurement.
Thermophotovoltaics
A generator burns fuel to heat a material that emits light. The light is then filtered and converted into electricity in photovoltaic (PV) cells.
Thermopile
Electronic device that converts thermal energy into electrical energy, composed of thermocouples in series or less commonly in parallel.
Thermostat
A device which automatically maintains temperature.
Thin Rod
The moment of inertia of a thin rod.
Third Class Lever
The force is applied between the load and the fulcrum.
Thomson Cross Section
σe = 0.665245854x10-28m2
Thomson Effect
Describes the heating or cooling of a current-carrying conductor with a temperature gradient.
Throttling
An irreversible adiabatic steady flow process in which the fluid is caused to flow through an obstruction in a pipe with a resulting drop in pressure.
Tidal Force
The force of the tides upon anything in their path.
Tidal Heating
The frictional heating of the interior of a satellite due to flexing caused by the gravitational pull of the parent planet.
Tide
Periodic rise and fall of the water resulting from gravitational interactions between the Sun, Moon, and Earth.
Time Constant
Time required for an exponential quantity to change by an amount equal to 63.2 percent of the total change that can occur.
Time Dilation
Time in the moving reference frame always flows more slowly.
Time History
A continuous record of the variation of a physical quantity (e.g. displacement, acceleration, force, etc.) with time.
Time Invariant
Describes a system whose output will experience no change other than an equal shift in time when the input is shifted in time.
Time of Flight
A method of locating a source in space based on the arrival times of the signal at a number of receivers.
Timeline
A brief overview of the major milestones in science and engineering.
TOE
Abbreviation of the unit of energy Tonne of Oil Equivalent.
Tokamak
The leading magnetic confinement fusion concept named after a Russian word for toroidally (or doughnut) shaped magnetic field.
Tonne of Oil Equivalent
A unit of energy equal to 41.868 GJ
Topple
The vertical component of precession or wander, or the algebraic sum of the two.
Toppler Axis
That horizontal axis, perpendicular to the spin axis of a gyroscope, around which topple occurs.
Total Dynamic Head
Dynamic discharge head plus dynamic suction lift, or dynamic discharge head minus dynamic suction head.
Total Impulse
The integral of the thrust over an interval of time.
Transfer Orbit
An elliptical trajectory tangent to the orbits of both the departure planet and the target planet.
Transformer
A transformer is a device used for converting an alternating electric current from one voltage to another.
Transformer Efficiency
The ratio of output power to input power, generally expressed as a percentage.
Translucent
Those substances, such as frosted glass, through which some light rays can pass but through which objects cannot be seen clearly.
Transmission Line
A structure that guides electromagnetic energy.
Transmitter
Equipment that generates and amplifies an Radio Frequency carrier, modulates the Radio Frequency carrier with intelligence, and radiates the signal into space.
Transparent
Those substances, such as glass, that pass almost all of the light waves falling upon them.
Transverse Electric Mode
A waveguide mode in which the entire electric field is perpendicular to the wide dimension and the magnetic field is parallel to the length.
Transverse Magnetic Mode
A waveguide mode in which the entire magnetic field is perpendicular to the wide dimension and some portion of the electric field is parallel to the length.
Tremendously High Frequency
The band of frequencies from 300 gigahertz to 3,000 gigahertz.
Troposphere
The portion of the atmosphere, closest to the surface of the earth, where all weather phenomena take place.
Tropospheric Scatter
The propagation of radio waves in the troposphere by means of scatter.
Tropospheric Wave
A radio wave that is propagated by reflection from a place of abrupt change in the dielectric constant or its gradient in the troposphere.
True Altitude
Actual height above sea level; calibrated altitude corrected for air temperature.
True Strain
The ratio of the change in dimension, resulting from a given load, to the magnitude of the dimension immediately prior to applying the load.
True Stress
The load applied to a material divided by the cross sectional area over which it acts.
Tuned Line
A transmission line that has standing waves of current and voltage.
Turbulent Flow
Fluid motion in which random motions of parts of the fluid are superimposed upon a simple pattern of flow.
Twin
Two portions of a crystal with a definite orientation relationship.
Two Colour Thermometry
A technique that measures the energy in two different wavelength bands in order to determine temperature.
Tyndall Effect
Light passing through a colloid is scattered by suspended particles.
Tyndall John
Studied the diffusion of light by large molecules and dust, known as the Tyndall effect.
UHF
Radio frequencies that are between 300 to 3000 MHz.
Ultimate Vacuum
The limiting pressure approached in a vacuum system after sufficient pumping time to establish that further reductions in pressure will be negligible.
Ultra High Frequency
Radio frequencies that are between 300 to 3000 MHz.
Ultraviolet Catastrophe
A shortcoming of the Rayleigh-Jeans formula, which attempted to describe the radiancy of a blackbody at various frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Uniform Motion
Motion at a constant velocity.
Unit
A standard for comparison in measurements. For example, the metre is a standard length which may be compared to any object to describe its length.
Unit Cell
The smallest repetitive volume that comprises the complete pattern of a crystal.
Units
Lists all Units topics in the Encyclopaedia
Universal Gas Constant
Also known as Molar Gas Constant.
Universe
All the matter and space that exists.
Uranus
The seventh planet from the sun in our solar system.
UV
Abbreviation of ultraviolet.
Vacancy
An unfilled lattice site in a crystal structure.
Vacuum
A given space filled with gas at pressures below atmospheric pressure.
Vacuum Energy
Underlying background energy that exists in space even when devoid of matter.
Vacuum Tube
An electron tube evacuated to such a degree that its electrical characteristics are essentially unaffected by the presence of residual gas or vapour.
van der Waals Bond
A secondary interatomic bond between adjacent molecular dipoles, which may be permanent or induced.
van der Waals Radius
One half the distance between two nonbonded atoms, when attractive and repulsive forces between the atoms are balanced.
Vapour
A gas whose temperature is below its critical temperature, so that it can be condensed to the liquid or solid state by increase of pressure alone.
Vapourization
A phase transition from the liquid or solid phase to gas phase.
VAr
Abbreviation of Volt Amperes Reactive.
Velocity Head
The difference between dynamic pressure and static pressure.
Vena Contracta
Point where the flow becomes parallel.
Venturi
A short constriction in a tube between two longer tapered portions that are usually of unequal length but terminate with the same diameter.
Venturi Giovanni
Italian physicist responsible for the venturi.
Venturi Tube Meter
A flow meter used to determine the rate of flow and employing a venturi tube as the primary element for creating differential pressure in flowing gases or liquids.
Venus
The second planet from the sun in our solar system
Vertical
The direction of gravity at the point of observation.
Vertical Deflection Plates
A pair of parallel electrodes in a CRT that moves the electron beam up and down.
Vertically Polarized
Waves that are radiated with the E field component perpendicular to the surface of the Earth.
Very High Frequency
Radio frequencies that are between 30 to 300 MHz.
VHF
Radio frequencies that are between 30 to 300 MHz.
View Factor
The fraction of the total energy emitted by one surface that is directly incident on another surface.
Virtual Mass
The actual mass of a body, plus its apparent additional mass.
VLF
Radio Frequencies from 3 kHz to 30 kHz.
Volumetric Energy Density
Volume based energy density.
Vortex
Any flow possessing vorticity.
VSB
The transmitted portion of the sideband which has been largely suppressed by a transducer.
VSWR
Abbreviation of Voltage Standing Wave Ratio.
Water
A colourless, tasteless liquid with some very peculiar properties that stem from the bent H-O-H structure of its molecules.
Water Vapour
Water in gaeous form.
Wattage Rating
A rating expressing the maximum power that a device can safely handle.
Wave Interference
The resultant when waves of the same or nearly the same frequency are superposed.
Wave Motion
A recurring disturbance advancing through space with or without the use of a physical medium.
Wave Phenomena
The characteristics of radiant energy.
Wave Train
A continuous series of waves with the same amplitude and wavelength.
Waveform
The shape of a time domain signal as seen on an oscilloscope screen.
Wavelength
The shortest repetition length for a periodic wave.
Wavemeter
An instrument for measuring the wavelength of an RF wave.
Wavenumber
Wavenumber describes the spatial variation of waves, phase change per unit distance.
Weak Anthropic Principle
The conditions necessary for the development of intelligent life will be met only in certain regions that are limited in space and time.
Weakly Ionized Plasma
A plasma in which only a small fraction of the atoms are ionized.
Weber-Fechner Law
An approximate psychophysical law relating the degree of response or sensation of a sense organ and the intensity of the stimulus.
Weber′s Theory
A theory of magnetism which assumes that all magnetic material is composed of many tiny magnets.
Weiss Constant
A characteristic constant dependent on the material, used in calculating the susceptibility of paramagnetic materials.
Weston Cell
A voltaic cell that is used as a reference emf.
Wet
To come in contact with a fluid.
Wet Bulb Depression
The difference between the dry-bulb temperature and the wet bulb temperature.
Wet Bulb Temperature
The temperature at which water, by evaporating into air, can bring the air to saturation at the same temperature.
Wet Bulb Thermometer
A wet wick is placed over a standard thermometer and air is blown across the surface. The temperature depends on how much moisture is in the air.
Wetting
Covering with a surface with thin film of liquid.
Wh
Abbreviation for Watt hour, a unit of energy equivalent to one watt of power expended for one hour of time.
Wh kg-1
Unit of energy density.
Wheel
The Mesopotamians are credited with the invention of the wheel.
White Body
A hypothetical body whose surface absorbs no electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength.
White Light
Light that can be resolved into a continuous spectrum.
Wiedemann Effect
The mechanical torsion that occurs when an electric current is passed along or through a long thin ferromagnetic material while it is subjected to an axial magnetic field.
Wiedemann-Franz Law
The ratio of the thermal conductivity of any pure metal to its electrical conductivity is approximately constant for any given temperature.
Wien Displacement Law
The product of the wavelength corresponding to the maximum radiancy and the thermodynamic temperature is a constant.
Wobble Frequency
The frequency at which an electron wobbles on its axis under the influence of an external magnetic field of a given strength.
Work Function
This is the energy required to remove an electron from the highest filled level in the Fermi distribution of a solid to a point a long way away, at absolute zero.
X-Ray Crystallography
Determination of three dimensional arrangement of atoms in a crystal by analysis of x-ray diffraction patterns.
X-Ray Diffraction Pattern
Interference patterns created by x-rays as they pass through a solid material.
X-Ray Spectrum
A set of characteristic x-ray frequencies or wavelengths produced by a substance used as a target in an x-ray tube.
X-Ray Tube
A cathode ray tube that focuses energetic streams of electrons on a metal target, causing the metal to emit x-rays.
Yaw
The rotation of a body about a vertical axis.
Yawing Moment
A moment that tends to rotate an aircraft about a vertical axis.
Yellow Dwarf
Any star with a spectral classification of G which is on the main sequence, for example, the Sun.
Yellow Supergiant
A supergiant star with a spectral type of G.
Young Stellar Object
The generic name for a star prior to its main sequence phase.
Zenith Attraction
The effect of the earth′s gravity on a meteoric body.
Zenithal
Of or pertaining to the zenith.
Zenographic
Referring to positions on Jupiter.
Zeta Machine
An experimental thermonuclear device which generates a plasma inside a torus and employs the pinch effect for heating and compression.
Zip Fuel
A boron-base high-energy liquid propellant.
Zodiac
The band of the sky extending 8 degrees either side of the ecliptic.
Zodiacal Light
A faint cone of light extending upward from the horizon in the direction of the ecliptic (zodiac).
Zoetrope
An optical toy with a series of pictures that when rotated give the impression of movement.
Zurich Number
Relative sunspot number.

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