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Accuracy – how well the results of a measurement agree with the “accepted” value

Dependent Variable – the factor in an experiment that depends on the independent variable

Line (curve) of Best Fit - a line (curve) that best passes through or near graphed data

Linear Relationship – a relationship between two variables whose graphed data points lie on a

straight line

Quadratic Relationship – a parabolic relationship, one variable depends on the square of another

Scientific Law – a well established rule that describes, but does not explain a pattern in nature

questions about the natural world

Scientific Theory – a model based on numerous observations, supported by experimental results that

may explain how things work

Significant Digits – the valid digits in measurement the number of which indicates the precision of a

measurement

Unit – a standard quantity with which other similar quantities can be compared

Acceleration due to Gravity – the acceleration of an object in free fall (g)

Position – the straight line distance and direction from the origin

Action / Reaction – interaction force pair, same magnitude opposite direction

Contact Force – an interaction (force) between two objects that requires touching

Dynamic Equilibrium - forces are balanced, particle is moving, ∑ F = 0 , a = 0 , v ≠ 0

Equilibrium – forces are balanced, ∑ F = 0 , a = 0

Field Force – an interaction (force) between two objects that does not require contact

Free Body Diagram –a physical model that represents the forces acting on a system

Friction – contact force that acts to oppose sliding motion between surfaces

Gravitational force – the attractive force between two objects that is directly proportional to the

mass of the objects

Newton – the force that imparts a 1 m/s2 acceleration on a 1-kilogram mass, a derived SI unit for

force

Newton’s 1st Law – an objects motion will be unchanged (equilibrium) if and only if the net force on

the object is zero

Newton’s 2nd Law – the acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the net force and

inversely proportion to its mass. ∑ F = ma

Spring Force – a restoring force, opposite the displacement of the end of the spring

Static Equilibrium – forces are balanced, particle is at rest ∑ F = 0 , a = 0 , v = 0

Thrust- a general term for the forces that move objects such as rockets, planes, cars etc

Weight – a field force due to gravitational attraction between two objects, generally Earth and an

object

Coefficient of Friction – the ratio of the maximal frictional force and the normal force

Gravitational Field Strength – the force per unit mass at a given point in a gravitational field

Gravitational Potential Energy – the energy change of an object resulting from lifting the object to a

height above Earth’s surface

Hooke’s Law – the force acting on a spring is directly proportional to the amount that the spring is

stretched or compressed

Projectile - an object shot through the air that after receiving an initial thrust, travels through the

air only under the influence of gravity. [2-d free fall]

Spring Constant – the constant of proportionality between the applied force and the stretch or

compression of a spring, depends on the stiffness of the spring

Static Friction – the frictional interaction between two surfaces when there is no motion between

the two surfaces

Closed system – a system that does not gain or lose mass

Impulse – the area under the force vs. time graph, the product of the average net force on an

object and the time interval over which the force acts

Impulse-momentum theorem – the impulse on an object is equal to the change in the objects

momentum. This is a cause and effect relationship.

Law of Conservation of Momentum – the momentum of any closed, isolated system does not change.

Conservative Force - a force for which work done by it is independent of the path taken

Elastic Potential Energy – the potential energy stored in an object due to a change in its shape

Ideal Mechanical System – a closed system in which no friction or other non-conservative force is

acting

Inelastic Collision – a collision for which the kinetic energy after the collision is less than the kinetic

energy before the collision

Internal Energy – total potential and kinetic energy of the particles that make up and object, but

excluding the energy of the system as a whole

Joule – a derived SI unit equal to the work done when a force of one Newton produces a

displacement of 1 meter.

Law of Conservation of Energy – in a closed, isolated system, the total energy in constant

Non-conservative Force – a force for which the work done by it depends on the path taken

Mechanical Energy – the sum of the kinetic and potential energies of a system

Motor – device that converts electric energy into mechanical energy as a result of forces on a

current-carrying conductor in a magnetic field

Non-ideal Mechanical System - a system in which a non-conservative force such as friction is acting

Nuclear Energy – the energy released in a nuclear reaction (eg: Fission or Fusion)

Photocell – device that converts light, a form of electromagnetic radiation, to electrical energy

Simple pendulum – a mass (bob) attached to one end of a string or wire that is attached at the other

end to a pivot point

Thermal Energy – a measure of the internal motion of an object’s particles, the total kinetic energy

of an object’s particles

Total Energy – the total energy of a non-ideal system is the sum of the PE, KE and Internal Energy

Work – the transfer of energy by mechanical means; is done when a force is exerted on an object in

the direction of motion; area under the Force vs. position graph

Work-Energy Theorem – when work is done on an object, a change in kinetic energy occurs

Centripetal Acceleration – the acceleration toward the center of a curvature of a curved path

Coulomb’s Law – the force between two charges varies directly with the product of the charges and

inversely with the square of the distance between them

Electric Charge – the property of particles that governs the electromagnetic interaction

Electron – a fundamental particle (lepton) that has a charge of -1e or -1.6 x 10-19 Coulombs

Elementary Charge – the smallest quantity of charge observed in nature e = 1.6 x 10-19 Coulombs

Gravitational Mass – the property of particles that governs the gravitational force

Law of Universal Gravitation – the force between two masses varies directly with the product of the

masses and inversely with the square of the distance between them

Period – the time required for a repetitive motion to repeat one complete cycle of motion

Proton – a fundamental particle (baryon) that has a charge of +1e or 1.6 x 10-19 Coulombs

Strong Nuclear Force – very Strong, short ranged attractive force between nucleons

Uniform Circular Motion – the motion of an object traveling in a circular path with constant speed

Weak Nuclear Force – short ranged, nuclear force responsible for particle decay

Capacitance – the ratio of an object’s stored charge to its electric potential difference

Charging by conduction – the process of charging a neutral object by touching it with charged

objects

Electric potential difference – the change in electric potential energy per unit charge in an electric

field

Electric potential energy – potential energy due to the position of a charge in an electric field

Electronvolt – an small unit of energy; the amount of work necessary to move one electron across a

potential difference of 1 Volt

Electroscope – a device that is used to detect electric charges

Equipotential – the electric potential difference of zero between two or more positions in an

electric field

Grounding – the process of removing excess charge by touching an object to the Earth

Law of Conservation of Charge – a material through which a charge will not move easily

Volt – a derived SI unit for electric potential difference equal to one Joule per Coulomb

Ampere – the fundamental SI unit of electric current; equal to one coulomb per second

Battery – a combination of two or more electrochemical cells; a direct current voltage source

Conductivity – a property of a material that describes the availability of charges that are free to

move under the influence of an electric field

Conventional Current – a flow of positive charges that move from higher potential to lower potential

Electric Circuit – a closed loop or pathway that allows electric charges to flow

Equivalent Resistance – the single resistance that could replace several resistors in a circuit

Kilowatt-hour – an energy unit used by electric companies to measure energy sales; 1 kWh 3.6x106

Joules

Ohm – the derived SI unit of electrical resistance; equivalent to 1 volt per ampere

Resistance – the ratio of the applied voltage across a conductor to the corresponding current

through the conductor

Resistivity – a property of a material that describes how strongly a material resists the flow of

electrons

Series Connection – all circuit elements are connected end to end to proved a single path for

current

Superconductor – a material with zero resistance that can conduct electricity without a loss of

energy

Switch – a device for making, breaking or changing the connections in an electric circuit

Domain – a very small region that is formed when magnetic fields of the electrons in neighboring

atoms are aligned in the same direction

Electromagnetic Induction – the process of generating a potential difference across a conductor due

to the relative motion of the conductor and a magnetic field

Magnet – a material in which the spinning electrons of its atoms are aligned in the same direction

Magnetic Field – the area around a magnet or moving charge where a magnetic force exists

Magnetic Field (flux) Lines – imaginary lines that map out a magnetic field

Magnetic Field Strength (flux) – the number of magnetic flux lines per unit area passing through a

surface

Magnetic Force – a force between two charges moving relative to each other

Magnetic Pole – a location where the magnetic field has the highest intensity

Amplitude –in any periodic motion, the maximum displacement of an object from equilibrium

Angle of Incidence – the angle between the incident ray and the normal to the surface at the point

where the ray meets a boundary

Angle of Reflection – the angle between the reflected ray and the normal to the surface at the point

where the ray meets a boundary

Angle of Refraction – the angle between the refracted ray and the normal to the surface at the point

where the ray meets a boundary

Antinode – the point of maximum displacement of a medium when two wave pulses meet

Constructive Interference – the effect produced when two in-phase waves pass simultaneously

through a medium causing an increase in amplitude

Destructive Interference - the effect produced when two out of-phase waves pass simultaneously

through a medium causing a decrease in amplitude

Doppler Effect – a change in the observed frequency and wavelength due to the relative motion of a

wave source and the observer

waves

Electromagnetic Wave – periodically changing electric and magnetic fields that travels through a

vacuum

Frequency – the number of cycles of a periodic motion that occur per second

Image – the combination of image points in an optical device from which the object seems to

originate

Incident Wave (ray) – a ray that originates in a medium and is incident on a boundary with another

medium

Index of Refraction – the ratio of the speed of light in a vacuum to the speed of light in a particular

medium

Longitudinal Wave – a mechanical wave in which the disturbance is in the same direction, parallel

to, the direction of propagation

Mechanical Wave – A wave that can not travel through a vacuum

Node – a stationary point where two wave pulses meet, having a displacement of zero

Period – the time required for an object to complete one cycle of a periodic motion

Phase – the position of a point on a wave relative to another point on the same wave

Principle of Superposition – the displacement of a medium caused by two or more waves is the

vector sum of the displacements of the individual waves

Ray Model of Light – a model that represents light as a ray that travels in a straight path

Refracted Wave (ray) – a ray that results from an incident ray crossing a boundary obliquely

Resonance –the vibration of an object at its natural frequency due to the action of a vibrating

source of the same frequency

Simple Harmonic Motion – a motion that occurs when the restoring force on an object is directly

proportional to the object’s displacement from equilibrium

Snell’s Law – the product of the index of refraction of a medium and the sine of the angle that the

ray makes with the normal is a constant across a boundary

Sound Level – a logarithmic scale used to measure the amplitude of a sound wave

Standing Wave – a wave that appears to be standing still; produced by two identical waves traveling

in opposite directions

Surface Wave – a mechanical wave in which the particles move both parallel and perpendicular to

the direction of propagation

Wave – a vibratory disturbance that propagates through medium or field; transfers energy without

transferring matter

Wave Front – continuous points on a wave that are in phase with each other

Wave Pulse – a single vibratory disturbance that propagates through a medium or field

Wavelength – the distance along a wave between two successive points in phase

Wave Speed – the rate at which a wave propagates through a medium or field

Antimatter – material consisting of atoms which are composed of antiprotons, antineutrons and

positrons

Antiparticle – a particle having mass, lifetime and spin identical to the associated particle, but with

charge of opposite sign and magnetic moment reversed in sign

electrons in excited atoms return to lower energy states

Beta decay - the emission of a beta particle and an antineutrino from the nucleus

Binding energy – the energy equivalent of the mass defect; always negative

Bright-line ( Emission) Spectrum – a series of bright lines that results from the emission of radiation

of specific frequencies by a heated gas

Energy level – the quantized amount of energy that an atom may have at each level

Energy level diagram – diagram representing the energy levels of a quantized system

Excited state – any energy level of an atom that is higher than its ground state

Ground state – state of an atom with the smallest allowable amount energy

Half-life – the time required for half the atoms in a given quantity of a radioactive element to decay

Lepton- a particle that interacts through the weak, electromagnetic and gravitation forces

Mass defect – the difference between the sum of the masses of the nucleons and the mass of the

nucleus

Neutrino – a neutral lepton that has energy and momentum, but almost no mass

Photoelectric effect – the emission of electrons by certain metals when they are exposed to

electromagnetic radiation

Photon – quanta of electromagnetic radiation, has energy and momentum, but no mass

Positron – an anti-electron

Quantum – a discrete packet of some quantity

Quantum model – a model for matter and energy using wave properties and quantization

Standard model – a model of matter in which all particles can be grouped into three families;

quarks, leptons, and force carriers

Stationary state – any particular orbit that can be occupied by an electron in an atom

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