The Penguin Dictionary of Physics (Penguin Reference Books)

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9780140514599: The Penguin Dictionary of Physics (Penguin Reference Books)

The Penguin Dictionary of Physics provides clear and concise definitions for every area of physics - from optics and acoustics to mechanics and electronics, via quantum theory and relativity. The ideal reference guide to this fast-evolving subject, it will prove invaluable to students and teachers, scientists and doctors, as well as technicians and technologists.

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This is a really useful reference book for anyone who wants to follow developments in our understanding of the universe. -- Stephen Hawking

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MOMENTUM

1 Syn. linear momentum. Of a particle. Symbol: p. The product of the mass and the velocity of the particle. It is a VECTOR quantity directed through the particle in the direction of motion. The linear momentum of a body or of a system of particles is the vector sum of the linear momenta of the individual particles. If a body of mass M is translated (see TRANSLATION) with velocity V, its momentum is MV, which is the momentum of a particle of mass M at the centre of gravity of the body.
2 See ANGULAR MOMENTUM

RICHTER SCALE

A scale for measuring the strength of earthquakes (see SEISMOLOGY), devised in 1935. The logarithmic scale ranges from 0 to 10 and is based on the logarithm of the amplitude of the ground movement divided by the period of the dominant wave, subject to certain corrections, including distance and the seismic characteristics of the area. On the Richter scale a value of 2 indicates a minor tremor, while values between 7 and 9 cause a major earthquake with extensive damage to buildings in urban areas. The strongest earthquake recorded had a value on the Richter scale of 8.9.

BECKMANN THERMOMETER

A mercury-in-glass thermometer used for the accurate determination of small temperature changes. The lower bulb is much larger than that of an ordinary thermometer and the scale behind the capillary tube, which is about 30cm long, is divided into hundredths of a degree and covers only about 5-6 ºC. The temperature change to be measured can take place about any mean temperature in the range, say, 0 ºC to 100 ºC, by varying the amount of mercury present in the lower bulb. This is made possible by running in more mercury from the small reservoir bulb at the top of the capillary, or conversely by running some mercury from the lower bulb into the reservoir where it plays no further part in the production of the thermometer reading. The variable amount of mercury present in the bulb means that the scale graduations will only exactly represent true degrees Celsius at the setting for which the scale has been calibrated.

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