# 1.6 Glossary of key symbols and notation

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

Symbol Definition
$\overline{\text{any symbol}}$ average (indicated by a bar over a symbol—e.g., $\overline{v}$ is average velocity)
$°\text{C}$ Celsius degree
$°\text{F}$ Fahrenheit degree
$\text{//}$ parallel
$\perp$ perpendicular
$\propto$ proportional to
$±$ plus or minus
${\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}}_{0}$ zero as a subscript denotes an initial value
$\alpha$ alpha rays
$\alpha$ angular acceleration
$\alpha$ temperature coefficient(s) of resistivity
$\beta$ beta rays
$\beta$ sound level
$\beta$ volume coefficient of expansion
${\beta }^{-}$ electron emitted in nuclear beta decay
${\beta }^{+}$ positron decay
$\gamma$ gamma rays
$\gamma$ surface tension
$\gamma =1/\sqrt{1-{v}^{2}/{c}^{2}}$ a constant used in relativity
$\Delta$ change in whatever quantity follows
$\delta$ uncertainty in whatever quantity follows
$\mathrm{\Delta E}$ change in energy between the initial and final orbits of an electron in an atom
$\mathrm{\Delta E}$ uncertainty in energy
$\mathrm{\Delta m}$ difference in mass between initial and final products
$\mathrm{\Delta N}$ number of decays that occur
$\mathrm{\Delta p}$ change in momentum
$\mathrm{\Delta p}$ uncertainty in momentum
$\Delta {\text{PE}}_{\text{g}}$ change in gravitational potential energy
$\mathrm{\Delta \theta }$ rotation angle
$\mathrm{\Delta s}$ distance traveled along a circular path
$\mathrm{\Delta t}$ uncertainty in time
${\mathrm{\Delta t}}_{0}$ proper time as measured by an observer at rest relative to the process
$\mathrm{\Delta V}$ potential difference
$\mathrm{\Delta x}$ uncertainty in position
${\epsilon }_{0}$ permittivity of free space
$\eta$ viscosity
$\theta$ angle between the force vector and the displacement vector
$\theta$ angle between two lines
$\theta$ contact angle
$\theta$ direction of the resultant
${\theta }_{b}$ Brewster's angle
${\theta }_{c}$ critical angle
$\kappa$ dielectric constant
$\lambda$ decay constant of a nuclide
$\lambda$ wavelength
${\lambda }_{n}$ wavelength in a medium
${\mu }_{0}$ permeability of free space
${\mu }_{\text{k}}$ coefficient of kinetic friction
${\mu }_{\text{s}}$ coefficient of static friction
${v}_{e}$ electron neutrino
${\pi }^{+}$ positive pion
${\pi }^{-}$ negative pion
${\pi }^{0}$ neutral pion
$\rho$ density
${\rho }_{\text{c}}$ critical density, the density needed to just halt universal expansion
${\rho }_{\text{fl}}$ fluid density
${\overline{\rho }}_{\text{obj}}$ average density of an object
$\rho /{\rho }_{\text{w}}$ specific gravity
$\tau$ characteristic time constant for a resistance and inductance $\left(\text{RL}\right)$ or resistance and capacitance $\left(\text{RC}\right)$ circuit
$\tau$ characteristic time for a resistor and capacitor $\left(\text{RC}\right)$ circuit
$\tau$ torque
$Υ$ upsilon meson
$\Phi$ magnetic flux
$\varphi$ phase angle
$\Omega$ ohm (unit)
$\omega$ angular velocity
$A$ ampere (current unit)
$A$ area
$A$ cross-sectional area
$A$ total number of nucleons
$a$ acceleration
${a}_{\text{B}}$ Bohr radius
${a}_{\text{c}}$ centripetal acceleration
${a}_{\text{t}}$ tangential acceleration
$\text{AC}$ alternating current
$\text{AM}$ amplitude modulation
$\text{atm}$ atmosphere
$B$ baryon number
$B$ blue quark color
$\overline{B}$ antiblue (yellow) antiquark color
$b$ quark flavor bottom or beauty
$B$ bulk modulus
$B$ magnetic field strength
${\text{B}}_{\text{int}}$ electron’s intrinsic magnetic field
${\text{B}}_{\text{orb}}$ orbital magnetic field
$\text{BE}$ binding energy of a nucleus—it is the energy required to completely disassemble it into separate protons and neutrons
$\text{BE}/A$ binding energy per nucleon
$\text{Bq}$ becquerel—one decay per second
$C$ capacitance (amount of charge stored per volt)
$C$ coulomb (a fundamental SI unit of charge)
${C}_{\text{p}}$ total capacitance in parallel
${C}_{\text{s}}$ total capacitance in series
$\text{CG}$ center of gravity
$\text{CM}$ center of mass
$c$ quark flavor charm
$c$ specific heat
$c$ speed of light
$\text{Cal}$ kilocalorie
$\text{cal}$ calorie
${\text{COP}}_{\text{hp}}$ heat pump’s coefficient of performance
${\text{COP}}_{\text{ref}}$ coefficient of performance for refrigerators and air conditioners
$\text{cos}\phantom{\rule{0.20em}{0ex}}\theta$ cosine
$\text{cot}\phantom{\rule{0.20em}{0ex}}\theta$ cotangent
$\text{csc}\phantom{\rule{0.20em}{0ex}}\theta$ cosecant
$D$ diffusion constant
$d$ displacement
$d$ quark flavor down
$\text{dB}$ decibel
${d}_{\text{i}}$ distance of an image from the center of a lens
${d}_{\text{o}}$ distance of an object from the center of a lens
$\text{DC}$ direct current
$E$ electric field strength
$\epsilon$ emf (voltage) or Hall electromotive force
$\text{emf}$ electromotive force
$E$ energy of a single photon
$E$ nuclear reaction energy
$E$ relativistic total energy
$E$ total energy
${E}_{0}$ ground state energy for hydrogen
${E}_{0}$ rest energy
$\text{EC}$ electron capture
${E}_{\text{cap}}$ energy stored in a capacitor
$\text{Eff}$ efficiency—the useful work output divided by the energy input
${\text{Eff}}_{\text{C}}$ Carnot efficiency
${E}_{\text{in}}$ energy consumed (food digested in humans)
${E}_{\text{ind}}$ energy stored in an inductor
${E}_{\text{out}}$ energy output
$e$ emissivity of an object
${e}^{+}$ antielectron or positron
$\text{eV}$ electron volt
$\text{F}$ farad (unit of capacitance, a coulomb per volt)
$\text{F}$ focal point of a lens
$\mathbf{\text{F}}$ force
$F$ magnitude of a force
$F$ restoring force
${F}_{\text{B}}$ buoyant force
${F}_{\text{c}}$ centripetal force
${F}_{\text{i}}$ force input
${\mathbf{\text{F}}}_{\text{net}}$ net force
${F}_{\text{o}}$ force output
$\text{FM}$ frequency modulation
$f$ focal length
$f$ frequency
${f}_{0}$ resonant frequency of a resistance, inductance, and capacitance $\left(\text{RLC}\right)$ series circuit
${f}_{0}$ threshold frequency for a particular material (photoelectric effect)
${f}_{1}$ fundamental
${f}_{2}$ first overtone
${f}_{3}$ second overtone
${f}_{\text{B}}$ beat frequency
${f}_{\text{k}}$ magnitude of kinetic friction
${f}_{\text{s}}$ magnitude of static friction
$G$ gravitational constant
$G$ green quark color
$\overline{G}$ antigreen (magenta) antiquark color
$g$ acceleration due to gravity
$g$ gluons (carrier particles for strong nuclear force)
$h$ change in vertical position
$h$ height above some reference point
$h$ maximum height of a projectile
$h$ Planck's constant
$\text{hf}$ photon energy
${h}_{\text{i}}$ height of the image
${h}_{\text{o}}$ height of the object
$I$ electric current
$I$ intensity
$I$ intensity of a transmitted wave
$I$ moment of inertia (also called rotational inertia)
${I}_{0}$ intensity of a polarized wave before passing through a filter
${I}_{\text{ave}}$ average intensity for a continuous sinusoidal electromagnetic wave
${I}_{\text{rms}}$ average current
$\text{J}$ joule
$J/\text{Ψ}$ Joules/psi meson
$\text{K}$ kelvin
$k$ Boltzmann constant
$k$ force constant of a spring
${K}_{\alpha }$ x rays created when an electron falls into an $n=1$ shell vacancy from the $n=3$ shell
${K}_{\beta }$ x rays created when an electron falls into an $n=2$ shell vacancy from the $n=3$ shell
$\text{kcal}$ kilocalorie
$\text{KE}$ translational kinetic energy
$\text{KE}+\text{PE}$ mechanical energy
${\text{KE}}_{e}$ kinetic energy of an ejected electron
${\text{KE}}_{\text{rel}}$ relativistic kinetic energy
${\text{KE}}_{\text{rot}}$ rotational kinetic energy
$\overline{\text{KE}}$ thermal energy
$\text{kg}$ kilogram (a fundamental SI unit of mass)
$L$ angular momentum
$\text{L}$ liter
$L$ magnitude of angular momentum
$L$ self-inductance
$\ell$ angular momentum quantum number
${L}_{\alpha }$ x rays created when an electron falls into an $n=2$ shell from the $n=3$ shell
${L}_{e}$ electron total family number
${L}_{\mu }$ muon family total number
${L}_{\tau }$ tau family total number
${L}_{\text{f}}$ heat of fusion
${L}_{\text{f}}\phantom{\rule{0.20em}{0ex}}\text{and}\phantom{\rule{0.20em}{0ex}}{L}_{\text{v}}$ latent heat coefficients
${\text{L}}_{\text{orb}}$ orbital angular momentum
${L}_{\text{s}}$ heat of sublimation
${L}_{\text{v}}$ heat of vaporization
${L}_{z}$ z - component of the angular momentum
$M$ angular magnification
$M$ mutual inductance
$\text{m}$ indicates metastable state
$m$ magnification
$m$ mass
$m$ mass of an object as measured by a person at rest relative to the object
$\text{m}$ meter (a fundamental SI unit of length)
$m$ order of interference
$m$ overall magnification (product of the individual magnifications)
$m\left({\text{}}^{A}\text{X}\right)$ atomic mass of a nuclide
$\text{MA}$ mechanical advantage
${m}_{\text{e}}$ magnification of the eyepiece
${m}_{e}$ mass of the electron
${m}_{\ell }$ angular momentum projection quantum number
${m}_{n}$ mass of a neutron
${m}_{\text{o}}$ magnification of the objective lens
$\text{mol}$ mole
${m}_{p}$ mass of a proton
${m}_{\text{s}}$ spin projection quantum number
$N$ magnitude of the normal force
$\text{N}$ newton
$\mathbf{\text{N}}$ normal force
$N$ number of neutrons
$n$ index of refraction
$n$ number of free charges per unit volume
${N}_{\text{A}}$ Avogadro's number
${N}_{\text{r}}$ Reynolds number
$\text{N}\cdot \text{m}$ newton-meter (work-energy unit)
$\text{N}\cdot \text{m}$ newtons times meters (SI unit of torque)
$\text{OE}$ other energy
$P$ power
$P$ power of a lens
$P$ pressure
$\mathbf{\text{p}}$ momentum
$p$ momentum magnitude
$p$ relativistic momentum
${\mathbf{\text{p}}}_{\text{tot}}$ total momentum
${\mathbf{\text{p}}}_{\text{tot}}^{\text{'}}$ total momentum some time later
${P}_{\text{abs}}$ absolute pressure
${P}_{\text{atm}}$ atmospheric pressure
${P}_{\text{atm}}$ standard atmospheric pressure
$\text{PE}$ potential energy
${\text{PE}}_{\text{el}}$ elastic potential energy
${\text{PE}}_{\text{elec}}$ electric potential energy
${\text{PE}}_{\text{s}}$ potential energy of a spring
${P}_{\text{g}}$ gauge pressure
${P}_{\text{in}}$ power consumption or input
${P}_{\text{out}}$ useful power output going into useful work or a desired, form of energy
$Q$ latent heat
$Q$ net heat transferred into a system
$Q$ flow rate—volume per unit time flowing past a point
$+Q$ positive charge
$-Q$ negative charge
$q$ electron charge
${q}_{p}$ charge of a proton
$q$ test charge
$\text{QF}$ quality factor
$R$ activity, the rate of decay
$R$ radius of curvature of a spherical mirror
$R$ red quark color
$\overline{R}$ antired (cyan) quark color
$R$ resistance
$\text{R}$ resultant or total displacement
$R$ Rydberg constant
$R$ universal gas constant
$r$ distance from pivot point to the point where a force is applied
$r$ internal resistance
${r}_{\perp }$ perpendicular lever arm
$r$ radius of a nucleus
$r$ radius of curvature
$r$ resistivity
$\text{r or rad}$ radiation dose unit
$\text{rem}$ roentgen equivalent man
$\text{rad}$ radian
$\text{RBE}$ relative biological effectiveness
$\text{RC}$ resistor and capacitor circuit
$\text{rms}$ root mean square
${r}_{n}$ radius of the n th H-atom orbit
${R}_{\text{p}}$ total resistance of a parallel connection
${R}_{\text{s}}$ total resistance of a series connection
${R}_{\text{s}}$ Schwarzschild radius
$S$ entropy
$\mathbf{\text{S}}$ intrinsic spin (intrinsic angular momentum)
$S$ magnitude of the intrinsic (internal) spin angular momentum
$S$ shear modulus
$S$ strangeness quantum number
$s$ quark flavor strange
$\text{s}$ second (fundamental SI unit of time)
$s$ spin quantum number
$\mathbf{\text{s}}$ total displacement
$\text{sec}\phantom{\rule{0.20em}{0ex}}\theta$ secant
$\text{sin}\phantom{\rule{0.20em}{0ex}}\theta$ sine
${s}_{z}$ z -component of spin angular momentum
$T$ period—time to complete one oscillation
$T$ temperature
${T}_{\text{c}}$ critical temperature—temperature below which a material becomes a superconductor
$T$ tension
$\text{T}$ tesla (magnetic field strength B )
$t$ quark flavor top or truth
$t$ time
${t}_{1/2}$ half-life—the time in which half of the original nuclei decay
$\text{tan}\phantom{\rule{0.20em}{0ex}}\theta$ tangent
$U$ internal energy
$u$ quark flavor up
$\text{u}$ unified atomic mass unit
$\mathbf{\text{u}}$ velocity of an object relative to an observer
${\mathbf{\text{u}}}^{\mathbf{\text{'}}}$ velocity relative to another observer
$V$ electric potential
$V$ terminal voltage
$\text{V}$ volt (unit)
$V$ volume
$\mathbf{\text{v}}$ relative velocity between two observers
$v$ speed of light in a material
$\mathbf{\text{v}}$ velocity
$\overline{\mathbf{\text{v}}}$ average fluid velocity
${V}_{\text{B}}-{V}_{\text{A}}$ change in potential
${\mathbf{\text{v}}}_{\text{d}}$ drift velocity
${V}_{\text{p}}$ transformer input voltage
${V}_{\text{rms}}$ rms voltage
${V}_{\text{s}}$ transformer output voltage
${\mathbf{\text{v}}}_{\text{tot}}$ total velocity
${v}_{\text{w}}$ propagation speed of sound or other wave
${\mathbf{\text{v}}}_{\text{w}}$ wave velocity
$W$ work
$W$ net work done by a system
$\text{W}$ watt
$w$ weight
${w}_{\text{fl}}$ weight of the fluid displaced by an object
${W}_{\text{c}}$ total work done by all conservative forces
${W}_{\text{nc}}$ total work done by all nonconservative forces
${W}_{\text{out}}$ useful work output
$X$ amplitude
$\text{X}$ symbol for an element
${\text{}}^{Z}{X}_{N}$ notation for a particular nuclide
$x$ deformation or displacement from equilibrium
$x$ displacement of a spring from its undeformed position
$x$ horizontal axis
${X}_{\text{C}}$ capacitive reactance
${X}_{\text{L}}$ inductive reactance
${x}_{\text{rms}}$ root mean square diffusion distance
$y$ vertical axis
$Y$ elastic modulus or Young's modulus
$Z$ atomic number (number of protons in a nucleus)
$Z$ impedance

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