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Appendix D Glossary of Key Symbols and Notation

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

Symbol Definition
$latex \overline{\text{any symbol}}$ average (indicated by a bar over a symbol—e.g., $latex \bar{v}$ is average velocity)
$latex ^{\circ} \text{C}$ Celsius degree
$latex ^{\circ} \text{F}$ Fahrenheit degree
$latex // $ parallel
$latex \bot $ perpendicular
$latex \propto $ proportional to
$latex \pm $ plus or minus
$latex _0 $ zero as a subscript denotes an initial value
$latex \alpha $ alpha rays
$latex \alpha $ angular acceleration
$latex \alpha $ temperature coefficient(s) of resistivity
$latex \beta $ beta rays
$latex \beta $ sound level
$latex \beta $ volume coefficient of expansion
$latex \beta ^{-} $ electron emitted in nuclear beta decay
$latex \beta ^{+} $ positron decay
$latex \gamma $ gamma rays
$latex \gamma $ surface tension
$latex \gamma = 1/ \sqrt{1 – v^2 / c^2} $ a constant used in relativity
$latex \Delta $ change in whatever quantity follows
$latex \delta $ uncertainty in whatever quantity follows
$latex \mathit\Delta E $ change in energy between the initial and final orbits of an electron in an atom
$latex \mathit\Delta E $ uncertainty in energy
$latex \mathit\Delta m $ difference in mass between initial and final products
$latex \mathit\Delta N $ number of decays that occur
$latex \mathit\Delta p $ change in momentum
$latex \mathit\Delta p $ uncertainty in momentum
$latex \mathit\Delta \text{PE}_{\text{g}} $ change in gravitational potential energy
$latex \mathit\Delta \theta $ rotation angle
$latex \mathit\Delta s $ distance traveled along a circular path
$latex \mathit\Delta t $ uncertainty in time
$latex \mathit\Delta t_0 $ proper time as measured by an observer at rest relative to the process
$latex \mathit\Delta V $ potential difference
$latex \mathit\Delta x $ uncertainty in position
$latex \epsilon _0 $ permittivity of free space
$latex \eta $ viscosity
$latex \theta $ angle between the force vector and the displacement vector
$latex \theta $ angle between two lines
$latex \theta $ contact angle
$latex \theta $ direction of the resultant
$latex \theta _b $ Brewster’s angle
$latex \theta _c $ critical angle
$latex \kappa $ dielectric constant
$latex \lambda $ decay constant of a nuclide
$latex \lambda $ wavelength
$latex \lambda _n $ wavelength in a medium
$latex \mu _0 $ permeability of free space
$latex \mu _k $ coefficient of kinetic friction
$latex \mu _s $ coefficient of static friction
$latex v_e $ electron neutrino
$latex \pi ^+ $ positive pion
$latex \pi ^- $ negative pion
$latex \pi ^0 $ neutral pion
$latex \rho $ density
$latex \rho _{\text{c}} $ critical density, the density needed to just halt universal expansion
$latex \rho _{\text{fl}} $ fluid density
$latex \overline{\rho} _{\text{obj}} $ average density of an object
$latex \rho / \rho _{\text{w}} $ specific gravity
$latex \tau $ characteristic time constant for a resistance and inductance ($latex RL $) or resistance and capacitance ($latex RC $) circuit
$latex \tau $ characteristic time for a resistor and capacitor ($latex RC $) circuit
$latex \tau $ torque
$latex \Upsilon $ upsilon meson
$latex \Phi $ magnetic flux
$latex \phi $ phase angle
$latex \Omega $ ohm (unit)
$latex \omega $ angular velocity
$latex \text{A}$ ampere (current unit)
$latex A $ area
$latex A $ cross-sectional area
$latex A $ total number of nucleons
$latex a $ acceleration
$latex a_{\text{B}} $ Bohr radius
$latex a_{\text{c}} $ centripetal acceleration
$latex a_{\text{t}} $ tangential acceleration
$latex \text{AC}$ alternating current
$latex \text{AM}$ amplitude modulation
$latex \text{atm}$ atmosphere
$latex B $ baryon number
$latex B $ blue quark color
$latex \overline{B} $ antiblue (yellow) antiquark color
$latex b $ quark flavor bottom or beauty
$latex B $ bulk modulus
$latex B $ magnetic field strength
$latex B_{\text{int}} $ electron’s intrinsic magnetic field
$latex B_{\text{orb}} $ orbital magnetic field
$latex \text{BE} $ binding energy of a nucleus—it is the energy required to completely disassemble it into separate protons and neutrons
$latex \text{BE/A} $ binding energy per nucleon
$latex \text{Bq} $ becquerel—one decay per second
$latex C $ capacitance (amount of charge stored per volt)
$latex C $ coulomb (a fundamental SI unit of charge)
$latex C_{\text{p}} $ total capacitance in parallel
$latex C_{\text{s}} $ total capacitance in series
$latex \text{CG} $ center of gravity
$latex \text{CM} $ center of mass
$latex c $ quark flavor charm
$latex c $ specific heat
$latex c $ speed of light
$latex \text{Cal} $ kilocalorie
$latex \text{cal} $ calorie
$latex \textit{\text{COP}}_{\text{hp}} $ heat pump’s coefficient of performance
$latex \textit{\text{COP}}_{\text{ref}} $ coefficient of performance for refrigerators and air conditioners
$latex \text{cos} \theta $ cosine
$latex \text{cot} \theta $ cotangent
$latex \text{csc} \theta $ cosecant
$latex D $ diffusion constant
$latex d $ displacement
$latex d $ quark flavor down
$latex \text{dB} $ decibel
$latex d_i $ distance of an image from the center of a lens
$latex d_o $ distance of an object from the center of a lens
$latex \text{DC} $ direct current
$latex E $ electric field strength
$latex \epsilon $ emf (voltage) or Hall electromotive force
$latex \text{emf} $ electromotive force
$latex E $ energy of a single photon
$latex E $ nuclear reaction energy
$latex E $ relativistic total energy
$latex E $ total energy
$latex E_0 $ ground state energy for hydrogen
$latex E_0 $ rest energy
$latex \text{EC} $ electron capture
$latex E_{\text{cap}} $ energy stored in a capacitor
$latex \textit{\text{Eff}} $ efficiency—the useful work output divided by the energy input
$latex \textit{\text{Eff}}_{\textit{\text{C}}} $ Carnot efficiency
$latex E_{\text{in}} $ energy consumed (food digested in humans)
$latex E_{\text{ind}} $ energy stored in an inductor
$latex E_{\text{out}} $ energy output
$latex e $ emissivity of an object
$latex e^+ $ antielectron or positron
$latex \text{eV} $ electron volt
$latex \text{F} $ farad (unit of capacitance, a coulomb per volt)
$latex \text{F} $ focal point of a lens
$latex \textbf{\text{F}} $ force
$latex F $ magnitude of a force
$latex F $ restoring force
$latex F_{\text{B}} $ buoyant force
$latex F_{\text{c}} $ centripetal force
$latex F_{\text{i}} $ force input
$latex \textbf{F}_{\text{net}} $ net force
$latex F_{\text{o}} $ force output
$latex \text{FM} $ frequency modulation
$latex f $ focal length
$latex f $ frequency
$latex f_0 $ resonant frequency of a resistance, inductance, and capacitance ($latex RLC $) series circuit
$latex f_0 $ threshold frequency for a particular material (photoelectric effect)
$latex f_1 $ fundamental
$latex f_2 $ first overtone
$latex f_3 $ second overtone
$latex f_{\text{B}} $ beat frequency
$latex f_{\text{k}} $ magnitude of kinetic friction
$latex f_{\text{s}} $ magnitude of static friction
$latex G $ gravitational constant
$latex G $ green quark color
$latex \overline{G} $ antigreen (magenta) antiquark color
$latex g $ acceleration due to gravity
$latex g $ gluons (carrier particles for strong nuclear force)
$latex h $ change in vertical position
$latex h $ height above some reference point
$latex h $ maximum height of a projectile
$latex h $ Planck’s constant
$latex hf $ photon energy
$latex h_i $ height of the image
$latex h_o $ height of the object
$latex I $ electric current
$latex I $ intensity
$latex I $ intensity of a transmitted wave
$latex I $ moment of inertia (also called rotational inertia)
$latex I_0 $ intensity of a polarized wave before passing through a filter
$latex I_{\text{ave}} $ average intensity for a continuous sinusoidal electromagnetic wave
$latex I_{\text{rms}} $ average current
$latex J $ joule
$latex J / \psi $ Joules/psi meson
$latex \text{K} $ kelvin
$latex k $ Boltzmann constant
$latex k $ force constant of a spring
$latex K_{\alpha} $ x rays created when an electron falls into an $latex n = 1 $ shell vacancy from the $latex n = 3 $ shell
$latex K_{\beta} $ x rays created when an electron falls into an $latex n = 2 $ shell vacancy from the $latex n = 3 $ shell
$latex \text{kcal} $ kilocalorie
$latex \text{KE} $ translational kinetic energy
$latex \text{KE} + \text{PE} $ mechanical energy
$latex \text{KE}_e $ kinetic energy of an ejected electron
$latex \text{KE}_{\text{rel}} $ relativistic kinetic energy
$latex \text{KE}_{\text{rot}} $ rotational kinetic energy
$latex \overline{\text{KE}} $ thermal energy
$latex \text{kg} $ kilogram (a fundamental SI unit of mass)
$latex L $ angular momentum
$latex \text{L} $ liter
$latex L $ magnitude of angular momentum
$latex L $ self-inductance
$latex \ell $ angular momentum quantum number
$latex L_{\alpha} $ x rays created when an electron falls into an $latex n = 2 $ shell from the $latex n = 3 $ shell
$latex L_e $ electron total family number
$latex L_{\mu} $ muon family total number
$latex L_{\tau} $ tau family total number
$latex L_{\text{f}} $ heat of fusion
$latex L_{\text{f}}$ and $latex L_{\text{v}} $ latent heat coefficients
$latex L_{\text{orb}} $ orbital angular momentum
$latex L_{\text{s}} $ heat of sublimation
$latex L_{\text{v}} $ heat of vaporization
$latex L_z $ z – component of the angular momentum
$latex M $ angular magnification
$latex M $ mutual inductance
$latex \text{m} $ indicates metastable state
$latex m $ magnification
$latex m $ mass
$latex m $ mass of an object as measured by a person at rest relative to the object
$latex \text{m} $ meter (a fundamental SI unit of length)
$latex m $ order of interference
$latex m $ overall magnification (product of the individual magnifications)
$latex m(^AX) $ atomic mass of a nuclide
$latex \text{MA} $ mechanical advantage
$latex m_{\text{e}} $ magnification of the eyepiece
$latex m_e $ mass of the electron
$latex m_{\ell} $ angular momentum projection quantum number
$latex m_n $ mass of a neutron
$latex m_{\text{o}} $ magnification of the objective lens
$latex \text{mol} $ mole
$latex m_p $ mass of a proton
$latex m_{\text{s}} $ spin projection quantum number
$latex N $ magnitude of the normal force
$latex \text{N} $ newton
$latex \textbf{\text{N}}$ normal force
$latex N $ number of neutrons
$latex n $ index of refraction
$latex n $ number of free charges per unit volume
$latex N_A $ Avogadro’s number
$latex N_{\text{r}} $ Reynolds number
$latex \text{N} \cdot \text{m} $ newton-meter (work-energy unit)
$latex \text{N} \cdot \text{m} $ newtons times meters (SI unit of torque)
$latex \text{OE} $ other energy
$latex P $ power
$latex P $ power of a lens
$latex P $ pressure
$latex \textbf{\text{p}} $ momentum
$latex p $ momentum magnitude
$latex p $ relativistic momentum
$latex \textbf{\text{p}}_{\text{tot}} $ total momentum
$latex \textbf{\text{p}}^{\prime}_{\text{tot}} $ total momentum some time later
$latex p_{\text{abs}} $ absolute pressure
$latex p_{\text{atm}} $ atmospheric pressure
$latex p_{\text{atm}} $ standard atmospheric pressure
$latex \text{PE} $ potential energy
$latex \text{PE}_{el} $ elastic potential energy
$latex \text{PE}_{\text{elec}} $ electric potential energy
$latex \text{PE}_s $ potential energy of a spring
$latex P_g $ gauge pressure
$latex P_{in} $ power consumption or input
$latex P_{out} $ useful power output going into useful work or a desired, form of energy
$latex Q $ latent heat
$latex Q $ net heat transferred into a system
$latex Q $ flow rate—volume per unit time flowing past a point
$latex +Q $ positive charge
$latex -Q $ negative charge
$latex q $ electron charge
$latex q_p $ charge of a proton
$latex q $ test charge
$latex \text{QF} $ quality factor
$latex R $ activity, the rate of decay
$latex R $ radius of curvature of a spherical mirror
$latex R $ red quark color
$latex \overline{R} $ antired (cyan) quark color
$latex R $ resistance
$latex \text{R} $ resultant or total displacement
$latex R $ Rydberg constant
$latex R $ universal gas constant
$latex r $ distance from pivot point to the point where a force is applied
$latex r $ internal resistance
$latex r_{\bot} $ perpendicular lever arm
$latex r $ radius of a nucleus
$latex r $ radius of curvature
$latex r $ resistivity
$latex \text{r or rad} $ radiation dose unit
$latex \text{rem} $ roentgen equivalent man
$latex \text{rad} $ radian
$latex \text{RBE} $ relative biological effectiveness
$latex RC $ resistor and capacitor circuit
$latex \text{rms} $ root mean square
$latex r_n $ radius of the nth H-atom orbit
$latex R_p $ total resistance of a parallel connection
$latex R_s $ total resistance of a series connection
$latex R_s $ Schwarzschild radius
$latex S $ entropy
$latex \textbf{\text{S}} $ intrinsic spin (intrinsic angular momentum)
$latex S $ magnitude of the intrinsic (internal) spin angular momentum
$latex S $ shear modulus
$latex S $ strangeness quantum number
$latex s $ quark flavor strange
$latex \text{s} $ second (fundamental SI unit of time)
$latex s $ spin quantum number
$latex \textbf{\text{s}} $ total displacement
$latex \text{sec} \theta $ secant
$latex \text{sin} \theta $ sine
$latex s_z $ z-component of spin angular momentum
$latex T $ period—time to complete one oscillation
$latex T $ temperature
$latex T_c $ critical temperature—temperature below which a material becomes a superconductor
$latex T $ tension
$latex \text{T} $ tesla (magnetic field strength B)
$latex t $ quark flavor top or truth
$latex t $ time
$latex t_{1/2} $ half-life—the time in which half of the original nuclei decay
$latex \text{tan} \theta $ tangent
$latex U $ internal energy
$latex u $ quark flavor up
$latex \text{u} $ unified atomic mass unit
$latex \textbf{\text{u}} $ velocity of an object relative to an observer
$latex \textbf{\text{u}}^{\prime} $ velocity relative to another observer
$latex V $ electric potential
$latex V $ terminal voltage
$latex \text{V} $ volt (unit)
$latex V $ volume
$latex \textbf{\text{v}} $ relative velocity between two observers
$latex v $ speed of light in a material
$latex \textbf{\text{v}} $ velocity
$latex \overline{\textbf{\text{v}}} $ average fluid velocity
$latex V_B – V_A $ change in potential
$latex \textbf{\text{v}}_d $ drift velocity
$latex V_p $ transformer input voltage
$latex V_{\text{rms}} $ rms voltage
$latex V_s $ transformer output voltage
$latex \textbf{\text{v}}_{\text{tot}} $ total velocity
$latex v_{\text{w}} $ propagation speed of sound or other wave
$latex \textbf{\text{v}}_{\text{w}} $ wave velocity
$latex W $ work
$latex W $ net work done by a system
$latex \text{W} $ watt
$latex w $ weight
$latex w_{\text{fl}} $ weight of the fluid displaced by an object
$latex W_c $ total work done by all conservative forces
$latex W_{nc} $ total work done by all nonconservative forces
$latex W_{out} $ useful work output
$latex X $ amplitude
$latex \text{X} $ symbol for an element
$latex \begin{matrix} Z \\ A \end{matrix} K_N $ notation for a particular nuclide
$latex x $ deformation or displacement from equilibrium
$latex x $ displacement of a spring from its undeformed position
$latex x $ horizontal axis
$latex X_C $ capacitive reactance
$latex X_L $ inductive reactance
$latex x_{\text{rms}} $ root mean square diffusion distance
$latex y $ vertical axis
$latex Y $ elastic modulus or Young’s modulus
$latex Z $ atomic number (number of protons in a nucleus)
$latex Z $ impedance



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Appendix D Glossary of Key Symbols and Notation by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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