Questions tagged [terminology]

For questions about terms, definitions and related concepts used in science and mathematics.

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7
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2answers
163 views

Who was the first to use the phrase “the standard model” of something?

I was doing some reading on stellar structure, and I noticed the phrase "the standard solar model" used to describe the structure of the Sun, and stars in general. It reminded me of the Standard Model ...
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Why is magnetic flux density named after Nikola Tesla?

I have my respect for Mr Tesla, but it seems weird that "he" was chosen to be the units of magnetic flux density. I mean, he didn't contribute much to magnetic fields theory, nor did he work ...
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130 views

Origin of the Hankel contour?

Who was the first to publish a Hankel contour integral? See notes in my answer to the MO-Q How does one motivate the analytic continuation of the Riemann zeta function?.
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163 views

History of the Wreath product

Why is the wreath product so named? If possible, please provide a citation.
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338 views

Grassmann's “forms”

In Grassmann's famous article Ausdehnungslehre from 1844 (the one where he introduces what has come to be famous as Grassmann algebra) he uses the termionology "form" in place of, as he explains in ...
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892 views

Why is the Heaviside step function named after Heaviside?

The Heaviside step function is usually defined as $$ \theta(x)=\left\{\begin{array}{ll}0&\text{if }x<0\\\tfrac12&\text{if }x=0\\1&\text{if }x>0.\\\end{array}\right. $$ It is ...
8
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1answer
6k views

Who invented the mole?

Who invented, or first used, the concept of the mole? I did my own research and the closest I came was Avogadro’s constant, which was made not by Avogadro but rather by Jean Baptiste Perrin. However, ...
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1answer
131 views

Origin of “world-line?”

The term "world-line" is a little odd in English. Google n-grams shows the English term going back to 1915 in the books google has scanned. Is its origin in Minkowski, Raum und Zeit (1909), ...
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1answer
297 views

When was the term 'elementary function' first coined and who did it?

The definition of what an elementary function is is quite arbitrary (see what math.SE has to say about it) and it makes me wonder why hasn't the mathematical community added other rather natural ...
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1answer
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When and by whom was the term 'momentum' introduced?

We know that up to 1726, when the third edition of the Principia was published, the name for $m\vec v$ was: quantitas motus. Do you know who substituted that with another Latin word: 'momentum'?
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Why did angular momentum get the letter L

Note - this question was inspired by this questions on physics.SE. Many (most) physical quantities are denoted with a single letter - latin or greek. For many, the letter chosen makes sense: $t$ for ...
5
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1answer
141 views

What's the origin and meaning of the adjective “free” in mathematics?

It's pretty common to call a group, ring or module free when it has a 'basis', but unlike other mathematical definitions whose names can be easily related to the concept they describe (e.g. the ...
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343 views

Is “de” in “de Morgan” supposed to be capitalized or not?

I am currently writing about the "de Morgan's laws" and have seen both "de Morgan" and "De Morgan." Which of these is correct?
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639 views

Where did the naming structure of particles come from (suffix -on)?

I was looking at a list of particles, and I noticed that many of them ended in -on. Proton, electron, neutron, lepton, etc. Is there a historical (or linguistic) reason behind this naming structure?
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History of the term innovation and its difference with invention?

Today, research and science is often associated to innovation (particularly by governments and funding agencies). I would like to understand how we got here and when the use of innovation as a ...
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1answer
575 views

How did the 'Poincaré patches' get their name?

De Sitter space and Anti de Sitter space are two of the most important solutions to the Einstein field equations. One famous method to obtain these spacetimes is to consider a $N$-dimensional ...
7
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2answers
291 views

When were the abbreviations of chemical elements standardized?

This is going to be tricky because the discovery/synthesis of elements has taken place over centuries. It might be best to restrict this purely to the elements contained on Dmitri Mendeleyev's table, ...
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456 views

Why does the statute mile have the length that it has?

Why was our (statute) mile established as it was? This happened in 1593, by the order of Elizabeth I which said: "A Mile ſhall contain eight Furlongs, every Furlong forty Poles, and every Pole ...
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What is the story behind various uses of the word “spectrum”?

Here are five distinct uses of the word spectrum in physics and mathematics: Spectrum (optics): The range of colors in the rainbow Spectrum (particle physics): The range of electromagnetic ...
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Did ancient/medieval non-European cultures have a concept of energy? If so, what are the similarities and differences to the modern concept?

For example, do we find something related to the modern energy concept in Ancient China, Ancient India, or the Islamic Golden Age? Among "similarities and differences", conservation is obviously ...
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Who invented the integers?

I know that Kronecker claimed it was God's doing, and that even prehistoric humans used some ways of counting. But I am curious where the idea of a sequence of numbers stretching out into infinity ...
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163 views

What was the definition of a scientist and how did it evolve? When was science categorized?

I'm asking this question as I've noticed that scientists like Gauss, Newton, Euler, Lagrange etc developed theories in many scientific fields(these ones that I know of were mostly interested in math ...
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1answer
124 views

What is the reason for the 'electromagnetism terminology' when discussing the conserved quantities found through Noether's theorem?

In (theoretical) physics, it is customary to describe the system under consideration in terms of the Lagrangian. One of the major advantages of this approach is that it allows us to analyze the ...
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370 views

Question on “What St. Augustine didn't say about mathematicians”

In the note "What St. Augustine didn't say about mathematicians" (which appeared sometime in 1991 in the pages of the Pi Mu Epsilon Journal), R. P. Boas, Jr. mentioned, among other things, that in the ...
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How did we come up with the name “atomic bomb”?

At first, my initiate question was: What is the difference between an atomic and a nuclear bomb?: Nuclear bombs are of two types — those that depend on fission, like atomic bombs, and those that ...
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464 views

What's the etymology of an engineering/software bug?

I read the Wikipedia page on Software bugs. It does have a section on its etymology. Albeit interesting it doesn't answer my question but merely notes that the term bug was used in 1878: Use of the ...
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1answer
417 views

Contributions to chemistry from medieval Arabia

A lot of chemical terms such as alcohol, aldehyde, sugar/azucar, amalgam etc. are of Arabic origin. Did Arabic chemistry in medieval times achieve any scientific insights still valid today (such as '...
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455 views

Why don't we name the Higgs boson a “higgson”?

We have fermions (named after Fermi) and bosons (named after Bose). Why don't we name the particle corresponding to the Higgs field a "higgson"? The superpartner particle (sparticle) of the Higgs ...
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801 views

When did the names of scientists first become the names of scientific units?

Many scientific units are named after scientists, for example, Tesla for magnetic flux Farad for capacitance Newton for force. When did the tradition of naming scientific units begin?

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