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College Physics 2e

D | Glossary of Key Symbols and Notation

College Physics 2eD | Glossary of Key Symbols and Notation

In this glossary, key symbols and notation are briefly defined.

Symbol Definition
any symbol ¯ any symbol ¯ average (indicated by a bar over a symbol—e.g., v¯v¯ is average velocity)
° C ° C Celsius degree
° F ° F Fahrenheit degree
// // parallel
proportional to
± ± plus or minus
0 0 zero as a subscript denotes an initial value
α α alpha rays
α α angular acceleration
α α temperature coefficient(s) of resistivity
β β beta rays
β β sound level
β β volume coefficient of expansion
β β electron emitted in nuclear beta decay
β + β + positron decay
γ γ gamma rays
γ γ surface tension
γ = 1 / 1 v 2 / c 2 γ = 1 / 1 v 2 / c 2 a constant used in relativity
Δ Δ change in whatever quantity follows
δ δ uncertainty in whatever quantity follows
ΔE ΔE change in energy between the initial and final orbits of an electron in an atom
ΔE ΔE uncertainty in energy
Δm Δm difference in mass between initial and final products
ΔN ΔN number of decays that occur
Δp Δp change in momentum
Δp Δp uncertainty in momentum
Δ PE g Δ PE g change in gravitational potential energy
Δθ Δθ rotation angle
Δs Δs distance traveled along a circular path
Δt Δt uncertainty in time
Δt 0 Δt 0 proper time as measured by an observer at rest relative to the process
ΔV ΔV potential difference
Δx Δx uncertainty in position
ε 0 ε 0 permittivity of free space
η η viscosity
θ θ angle between the force vector and the displacement vector
θ θ angle between two lines
θ θ contact angle
θ θ direction of the resultant
θ b θ b Brewster's angle
θ c θ c critical angle
κ κ dielectric constant
λ λ decay constant of a nuclide
λ λ wavelength
λ n λ n wavelength in a medium
μ 0 μ 0 permeability of free space
μ k μ k coefficient of kinetic friction
μ s μ s coefficient of static friction
v e v e electron neutrino
π + π + positive pion
π π negative pion
π 0 π 0 neutral pion
ρ ρ density
ρ c ρ c critical density, the density needed to just halt universal expansion
ρ fl ρ fl fluid density
ρ ¯ obj ρ ¯ obj average density of an object
ρ / ρ w ρ / ρ w specific gravity
τ τ characteristic time constant for a resistance and inductance (RL)(RL) or resistance and capacitance (RC)(RC) circuit
τ τ characteristic time for a resistor and capacitor (RC)(RC) circuit
τ τ torque
Υ Υ upsilon meson
Φ Φ magnetic flux
ϕ ϕ phase angle
Ω Ω ohm (unit)
ω ω angular velocity
A A ampere (current unit)
A A area
A A cross-sectional area
A A total number of nucleons
a a acceleration
a B a B Bohr radius
a c a c centripetal acceleration
a t a t tangential acceleration
AC AC alternating current
AM AM amplitude modulation
atm atm atmosphere
B B baryon number
B B blue quark color
B ¯ B ¯ antiblue (yellow) antiquark color
b b quark flavor bottom or beauty
B B bulk modulus
B B magnetic field strength
B int B int electron’s intrinsic magnetic field
B orb B orb orbital magnetic field
BE BE binding energy of a nucleus—it is the energy required to completely disassemble it into separate protons and neutrons
BE / A BE / A binding energy per nucleon
Bq Bq becquerel—one decay per second
C C capacitance (amount of charge stored per volt)
C C coulomb (a fundamental SI unit of charge)
C p C p total capacitance in parallel
C s C s total capacitance in series
CG CG center of gravity
CM CM center of mass
c c quark flavor charm
c c specific heat
c c speed of light
Cal Cal kilocalorie
cal cal calorie
COP hp COP hp heat pump’s coefficient of performance
COP ref COP ref coefficient of performance for refrigerators and air conditioners
cos θ cos θ cosine
cot θ cot θ cotangent
csc θ csc θ cosecant
D D diffusion constant
d d displacement
d d quark flavor down
dB dB decibel
d i d i distance of an image from the center of a lens
d o d o distance of an object from the center of a lens
DC DC direct current
E E electric field strength
ε ε emf (voltage) or Hall electromotive force
emf emf electromotive force
E E energy of a single photon
E E nuclear reaction energy
E E relativistic total energy
E E total energy
E 0 E 0 ground state energy for hydrogen
E 0 E 0 rest energy
EC EC electron capture
E cap E cap energy stored in a capacitor
Eff Eff efficiency—the useful work output divided by the energy input
Eff C Eff C Carnot efficiency
E in E in energy consumed (food digested in humans)
E ind E ind energy stored in an inductor
E out E out energy output
e e emissivity of an object
e + e + antielectron or positron
eV eV electron volt
F F farad (unit of capacitance, a coulomb per volt)
F F focal point of a lens
F F force
F F magnitude of a force
F F restoring force
F B F B buoyant force
F c F c centripetal force
F i F i force input
F net F net net force
F o F o force output
FM FM frequency modulation
f f focal length
f f frequency
f 0 f 0 resonant frequency of a resistance, inductance, and capacitance (RLC)(RLC) series circuit
f 0 f 0 threshold frequency for a particular material (photoelectric effect)
f 1 f 1 fundamental
f 2 f 2 first overtone
f 3 f 3 second overtone
f B f B beat frequency
f k f k magnitude of kinetic friction
f s f s magnitude of static friction
G G gravitational constant
G G green quark color
G ¯ G ¯ antigreen (magenta) antiquark color
g g acceleration due to gravity
g g gluons (carrier particles for strong nuclear force)
h h change in vertical position
h h height above some reference point
h h maximum height of a projectile
h h Planck's constant
hf hf photon energy
h i h i height of the image
h o h o height of the object
I I electric current
I I intensity
I I intensity of a transmitted wave
I I moment of inertia (also called rotational inertia)
I 0 I 0 intensity of a polarized wave before passing through a filter
I ave I ave average intensity for a continuous sinusoidal electromagnetic wave
I rms I rms average current
J J joule
J / Ψ J / Ψ Joules/psi meson
K K kelvin
k k Boltzmann constant
k k force constant of a spring
K α K α x rays created when an electron falls into an n=1n=1 shell vacancy from the n=3n=3 shell
K β K β x rays created when an electron falls into an n=2n=2 shell vacancy from the n=3n=3 shell
kcal kcal kilocalorie
KE KE translational kinetic energy
KE + PE KE + PE mechanical energy
KE e KE e kinetic energy of an ejected electron
KE rel KE rel relativistic kinetic energy
KE rot KE rot rotational kinetic energy
KE ¯ KE ¯ thermal energy
kg kg kilogram (a fundamental SI unit of mass)
L L angular momentum
L L liter
L L magnitude of angular momentum
L L self-inductance
angular momentum quantum number
L α L α x rays created when an electron falls into an n=2 n=2 shell
L e L e electron total family number
L μ L μ muon family total number
L τ L τ tau family total number
L f L f heat of fusion
L f and L v L f and L v latent heat coefficients
L orb L orb orbital angular momentum
L s L s heat of sublimation
L v L v heat of vaporization
L z L z z - component of the angular momentum
M M angular magnification
M M mutual inductance
m m indicates metastable state
m m magnification
m m mass
m m mass of an object as measured by a person at rest relative to the object
m m meter (a fundamental SI unit of length)
m m order of interference
m m overall magnification (product of the individual magnifications)
m A X m A X atomic mass of a nuclide
MA MA mechanical advantage
m e m e magnification of the eyepiece
m e m e mass of the electron
m m angular momentum projection quantum number
m n m n mass of a neutron
m o m o magnification of the objective lens
mol mol mole
m p m p mass of a proton
m s m s spin projection quantum number
N N magnitude of the normal force
N N newton
N N normal force
N N number of neutrons
n n index of refraction
n n number of free charges per unit volume
N A N A Avogadro's number
N r N r Reynolds number
N m N m newton-meter (work-energy unit)
N m N m newtons times meters (SI unit of torque)
OE OE other energy
P P power
P P power of a lens
P P pressure
p p momentum
p p momentum magnitude
p p relativistic momentum
p tot p tot total momentum
p tot ' p tot ' total momentum some time later
P abs P abs absolute pressure
P atm P atm atmospheric pressure
P atm P atm standard atmospheric pressure
PE PE potential energy
PE el PE el elastic potential energy
PE elec PE elec electric potential energy
PE s PE s potential energy of a spring
P g P g gauge pressure
P in P in power consumption or input
P out P out useful power output going into useful work or a desired, form of energy
Q Q latent heat
Q Q net heat transferred into a system
Q Q flow rate—volume per unit time flowing past a point
+ Q + Q positive charge
Q Q negative charge
q q electron charge
q p q p charge of a proton
q q test charge
QF QF quality factor
R R activity, the rate of decay
R R radius of curvature of a spherical mirror
R R red quark color
R ¯ R ¯ antired (cyan) quark color
R R resistance
R R resultant or total displacement
R R Rydberg constant
R R universal gas constant
r r distance from pivot point to the point where a force is applied
r r internal resistance
r r perpendicular lever arm
r r radius of a nucleus
r r radius of curvature
r r resistivity
r or rad r or rad radiation dose unit
rem rem roentgen equivalent man
rad rad radian
RBE RBE relative biological effectiveness
RC RC resistor and capacitor circuit
rms rms root mean square
r n r n radius of the nth H-atom orbit
R p R p total resistance of a parallel connection
R s R s total resistance of a series connection
R s R s Schwarzschild radius
S S entropy
S S intrinsic spin (intrinsic angular momentum)
S S magnitude of the intrinsic (internal) spin angular momentum
S S shear modulus
S S strangeness quantum number
s s quark flavor strange
s s second (fundamental SI unit of time)
s s spin quantum number
s s total displacement
sec θ sec θ secant
sin θ sin θ sine
s z s z z-component of spin angular momentum
T T period—time to complete one oscillation
T T temperature
T c T c critical temperature—temperature below which a material becomes a superconductor
T T tension
T T tesla (magnetic field strength B)
t t quark flavor top or truth
t t time
t 1 / 2 t 1 / 2 half-life—the time in which half of the original nuclei decay
tan θ tan θ tangent
U U internal energy
u u quark flavor up
u u unified atomic mass unit
u u velocity of an object relative to an observer
u ' u ' velocity relative to another observer
V V electric potential
V V terminal voltage
V V volt (unit)
V V volume
v v relative velocity between two observers
v v speed of light in a material
v v velocity
v ¯ v ¯ average fluid velocity
V B V A V B V A change in potential
v d v d drift velocity
V p V p transformer input voltage
V rms V rms rms voltage
V s V s transformer output voltage
v tot v tot total velocity
v w v w propagation speed of sound or other wave
v w v w wave velocity
W W work
W W net work done by a system
W W watt
w w weight
w fl w fl weight of the fluid displaced by an object
W c W c total work done by all conservative forces
W nc W nc total work done by all nonconservative forces
W out W out useful work output
X X amplitude
X X symbol for an element
A Z X N A Z X N notation for a particular nuclide
x x deformation or displacement from equilibrium
x x displacement of a spring from its undeformed position
x x horizontal axis
X C X C capacitive reactance
X L X L inductive reactance
x rms x rms root mean square diffusion distance
y y vertical axis
Y Y elastic modulus or Young's modulus
Z Z atomic number (number of protons in a nucleus)
Z Z impedance
Table D1
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