physical phenomenon

Definitions of physical phenomenon

n a natural phenomenon involving the physical properties of matter and energy

show 164 types...
hide 164 types...
acoustic phenomenon
a physical phenomenon associated with the production or transmission of sound
atmospheric phenomenon
a physical phenomenon associated with the atmosphere
boundary layer
the layer of slower flow of a fluid past a surface
the formless and disordered state of matter before the creation of the cosmos
any collection of particles (e.g., smoke or dust) or gases that is visible
phenomenon that occurs when a metal is being heated and there is a sudden slowing in the rate of temperature increase; slowing is caused by a change in the internal crystal structure of the metal
electrical phenomenon
a physical phenomenon involving electricity
a physical phenomenon associated with stationary or moving electrons and protons
any source of usable power
energy, free energy
(physics) a thermodynamic quantity equivalent to the capacity of a physical system to do work; the units of energy are joules or ergs
(physics) the rate of doing work; measured in watts (= joules/second)
a phenomenon located at a single point in space-time; the fundamental observational entity in relativity theory
field, field of force, force field
the space around a radiating body within which its electromagnetic oscillations can exert force on another similar body not in contact with it
(physics) the influence that produces a change in a physical quantity
the lagging of an effect behind its cause; especially the phenomenon in which the magnetic induction of a ferromagnetic material lags behind the changing magnetic field
an excited state of a stable particle causing a sharp maximum in the probability of absorption of electromagnetic radiation
mechanical phenomenon
a physical phenomenon associated with the equilibrium or motion of objects
the phenomenon of not permitting the passage of electromagnetic radiation
optical phenomenon
a physical phenomenon related to or involving light
force per unit area, pressure, pressure level
the force applied to a unit area of surface; measured in pascals (SI unit) or in dynes (cgs unit)
reflection, reflexion
the phenomenon of a propagating wave (light or sound) being thrown back from a surface
the change in direction of a propagating wave (light or sound) when passing from one medium to another
resolution, resolving power
the ability of a microscope or telescope to measure the angular separation of images that are close together
(computer science) the number of pixels per square inch on a computer-generated display; the greater the resolution, the better the picture
conduction, conductivity
the transmission of heat or electricity or sound
the movement of a wave through a medium
fundamental interaction, interaction
(physics) the transfer of energy between elementary particles or between an elementary particle and a field or between fields; mediated by gauge bosons
surface tension
a phenomenon at the surface of a liquid caused by intermolecular forces
the straight line configuration of 3 celestial bodies (as the sun and earth and moon) in a gravitational system
transparence, transparency
permitting the free passage of electromagnetic radiation
turbulence, turbulency
unstable flow of a liquid or gas
the irregular motion of waves (usually caused by wind blowing in a direction opposite to the tide)
floatation, flotation
the phenomenon of floating (remaining on the surface of a liquid without sinking)
countercurrent, crosscurrent, rip, riptide, tide rip
a stretch of turbulent water in a river or the sea caused by one current flowing into or across another current
a visible mass of water or ice particles suspended at a considerable altitude
(astronomy) the luminous cloud of particles surrounding the frozen nucleus of a comet; forms as the comet approaches the sun and is warmed
an immense cloud of gas (mainly hydrogen) and dust in interstellar space
aberration, distortion, optical aberration
an optical phenomenon resulting from the failure of a lens or mirror to produce a good image
absorption band
a dark band in the spectrum of white light that has been transmitted through a substance that exhibits absorption at selective wavelengths
activation energy, energy of activation
the energy that an atomic system must acquire before a process (such as an emission or reaction) can occur
aerodynamic force
forces acting on airfoils in motion relative to the air (or other gaseous fluids)
a cloud of solid or liquid particles in a gas
affinity, chemical attraction
the force attracting atoms to each other and binding them together in a molecule
air hole, air pocket, pocket
a local region of low pressure or descending air that causes a plane to lose height suddenly
alternative energy
energy derived from sources that do not use up natural resources or harm the environment
the strength of an electrical current measured in amperes
atomic energy, nuclear energy
the energy released by a nuclear reaction
attraction, attractive force
the force by which one object attracts another
repulsion, repulsive force
the force by which bodies repel one another
an atmospheric phenomenon consisting of bands of light caused by charged solar particles following the earth's magnetic lines of force
binding energy, separation energy
the energy required to separate particles from a molecule or atom or nucleus; equals the mass defect
blood pressure
the pressure of the circulating blood against the walls of the blood vessels; results from the systole of the left ventricle of the heart; sometimes measured for a quick evaluation of a person's health
capacitance, capacity, electrical capacity
an electrical phenomenon whereby an electric charge is stored
elastance, electrical elastance
the reciprocal of capacitance
capillarity, capillary action
a phenomenon associated with surface tension and resulting in the elevation or depression of liquids in capillaries
centrifugal force
the outward force on a body moving in a curved path around another body
centripetal force
the inward force on a body moving in a curved path around another body
charge, electric charge
the quantity of unbalanced electricity in a body (either positive or negative) and construed as an excess or deficiency of electrons
generation of an electric charge on certain crystals (such as tourmaline) as a result of a change in temperature
(physics) the intermolecular force that holds together the molecules in a solid or liquid
chemical energy
that part of the energy in a substance that can be released by a chemical reaction
Coriolis force
(physics) a force due to the earth's rotation; acts on a body in motion (airplane or projectile) in a rotating reference frame; in a rotating frame of reference Newton's second law of motion can be made to apply if in addition to the real forces acting on a body a Coriolis force and a centrifugal force are introduced
cosmic dust
clouds of particles or gases occurring throughout interstellar space
dust cloud
a cloud of dust suspended in the air
mushroom, mushroom cloud, mushroom-shaped cloud
a large cloud of rubble and dust shaped like a mushroom and rising into the sky after an explosion (especially of a nuclear bomb)
current, electric current
a flow of electricity through a conductor
condensate, condensation
atmospheric moisture that has condensed because of cold
when light passes sharp edges or goes through narrow slits the rays are deflected and produce fringes of light and dark bands
drift, impetus, impulsion
a force that moves something along
electric power, electrical power, wattage
the product of voltage and current
electric field
a field of force surrounding a charged particle
dielectric heating
heating of an insulator by a high-frequency electric field
electricity produced by chemical action
electrical energy, electricity
energy made available by the flow of electric charge through a conductor
energy level, energy state
a definite stable energy that a physical system can have; used especially of the state of electrons in atoms or molecules
rest energy
the energy equivalent to the mass of a particle at rest in an inertial frame of reference; equal to the rest mass times the square of the speed of light
(physics) a manifestation of energy; the transfer of energy from one physical system to another expressed as the product of a force and the distance through which it moves a body in the direction of that force
am unwanted reflection in an optical system (or the fogging of an image that is caused by such a reflection)
fringe, interference fringe
one of the light or dark bands produced by the interference and diffraction of light
(meteorology) the atmospheric phenomenon created at the boundary between two different air masses
greenhouse effect, greenhouse warming
warming that results when solar radiation is trapped by the atmosphere; caused by atmospheric gases that allow sunshine to pass through but absorb heat that is radiated back from the warmed surface of the earth
the layer of air near the earth is cooler than an overlying layer
storm, violent storm
a violent weather condition with winds 64-72 knots (11 on the Beaufort scale) and precipitation and thunder and lightning
gravitational field
a field of force surrounding a body of finite mass
heat, heat energy
a form of energy that is transferred by a difference in temperature
electricity produced by water power
the striking of a light beam on a surface
inductance, induction
an electrical phenomenon whereby an electromotive force (EMF) is generated in a closed circuit by a change in the flow of current
(physics) the tendency of a body to maintain its state of rest or uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force
reciprocal reflection between two reflecting surfaces
leverage, purchase
the mechanical advantage gained by being in a position to use a lever
Lorentz force
the force experienced by a point charge moving along a wire that is in a magnetic field; the force is at right angles to both the current and the magnetic field
atmospheric electricity
electrical discharges in the atmosphere
flux, magnetic field, magnetic flux
the lines of force surrounding a permanent magnet or a moving charged particle
radiation field
a field that represents the energy lost from the radiator to space
nuclear resonance
the resonance absorption of a gamma ray by a nucleus identical to the nucleus that emitted the gamma ray
magnetic resonance
resonance of electrons or atoms or molecules or nuclei to radiation frequencies as a result of space quantization in a magnetic field
mechanical vibrations transmitted by an elastic medium
flight, trajectory
the path followed by an object moving through space
mechanical energy
energy in a mechanical form
midnight sun
the sun visible at midnight (inside the Arctic or Antarctic Circles)
a turning force produced by an object acting at a distance (or a measure of that force)
a circle of light around the sun or moon
optical opacity
opacity to light
radio-opacity, radiopacity
opacity to X-rays or other radiation
optical illusion
an optical phenomenon that results in a false or deceptive visual impression
electricity generated by light or affected by light
piezo effect, piezoelectric effect, piezoelectricity
electricity produced by mechanical pressure on certain crystals (notably quartz or Rochelle salt); alternatively, electrostatic stress produces a change in the linear dimensions of the crystal
the phenomenon of different colors appearing when certain crystals are viewed from different directions
polarisation, polarization
the phenomenon in which waves of light or other radiation are restricted in direction of vibration
electric potential, potential, potential difference, potential drop, voltage
the difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit expressed in volts
gas pressure
the pressure exerted by a gas
the pressure exerted by a fluid
hydrostatic head
the pressure at a given point in a liquid measured in terms of the vertical height of a column of the liquid needed to produce the same pressure
IOP, intraocular pressure
pressure exerted by the fluids inside the eyeball; regulated by resistance to the outward flow of aqueous humor
oil pressure
pressure that keeps oil on the moving parts of an internal-combustion engine
osmotic pressure
(physical chemistry) the pressure exerted by a solution necessary to prevent osmosis into that solution when it is separated from the pure solvent by a semipermeable membrane
corpuscular-radiation pressure, radiation pressure
the minute pressure exerted on a surface normal to the direction of propagation of a wave
instantaneous sound pressure, sound pressure
the difference between the instantaneous pressure at a point in a sound field and the average pressure at that point
a propelling force
the force used in pulling
push, thrust
the force used in pushing
(mechanics) the equal and opposite force that is produced when any force is applied to a body
radiant energy
energy that is transmitted in the form of (electromagnetic) radiation; energy that exists in the absence of matter
energy that is radiated or transmitted in the form of rays or waves or particles
birefringence, double refraction
splitting a ray into two parallel rays polarized perpendicularly
any mechanical force that tends to retard or oppose motion
a material's capacity to conduct electricity; measured as the reciprocal of electrical resistance
electric resistance, electrical resistance, impedance, ohmic resistance, resistance, resistivity
a material's opposition to the flow of electric current; measured in ohms
opposition to the flow of electric current resulting from inductance and capacitance (rather than resistance)
(physics) opposition to magnetic flux (analogous to electric resistance)
meteor shower, meteor stream
a transient shower of meteors when a meteor swarm enters the earth's atmosphere
skin effect
the tendency of high-frequency alternating current to distribute near the surface of a conductor
a change (usually undesired) in the waveform of an acoustic or analog electrical signal; the difference between two measurements of a signal (as between the input and output signal)
acoustic projection, projection, sound projection
the acoustic phenomenon that gives sound a penetrating quality
electrical conduction
the passage of electricity through a conductor
Doppler effect, Doppler shift
change in the apparent frequency of a wave as observer and source move toward or away from each other
red shift, redshift
(astronomy) a shift in the spectra of very distant galaxies toward longer wavelengths (toward the red end of the spectrum); generally interpreted as evidence that the universe is expanding
wave front
all the points just reached by a wave as it propagates
electrical disturbance
electrical signals produced by unwanted sources (atmospherics or receiver noise or unwanted transmitters)
static electricity
electricity produced by friction
current electricity, dynamic electricity
a flow of electric charge
electricity produced by heat (as in a thermocouple)
(physics) force that produces strain on a physical body
electromagnetic interaction
an interaction between charged elementary particles that is intermediate in strength between the strong and weak interactions; mediated by photons
gravitational interaction
a weak interaction between particles that results from their mass; mediated by gravitons
color force, strong force, strong interaction
(physics) the interaction that binds protons and neutrons together in the nuclei of atoms; mediated by gluons
weak force, weak interaction
(physics) an interaction between elementary particles involving neutrinos or antineutrinos that is responsible for certain kinds of radioactive decay; mediated by intermediate vector bosons
a force over an area produced by a pressure difference
atmospheric phenomena accompanying the daily appearance of the sun
atmospheric phenomena accompanying the daily disappearance of the sun
a glow sometimes seen in the sky after sunset
interfacial surface tension, interfacial tension
surface tension at the surface separating two non-miscible liquids
torque, torsion
a twisting force
vapor pressure, vapour pressure
the pressure exerted by a vapor; often understood to mean saturated vapor pressure (the vapor pressure of a vapor in contact with its liquid form)
virtual image
a reflected optical image (as seen in a plane mirror)
electromotive force, emf, voltage
the rate at which energy is drawn from a source that produces a flow of electricity in a circuit; expressed in volts
magnetomotive force
the force that produces magnetic flux
elan vital, life force, vital force, vitality
(biology) a hypothetical force (not physical or chemical) once thought by Henri Bergson to cause the evolution and development of organisms
the power to do work that is latent in a head of water
atmospheric condition, conditions, weather, weather condition
the atmospheric conditions that comprise the state of the atmosphere in terms of temperature and wind and clouds and precipitation
zodiacal light
a luminous tract in the sky; a reflection of sunlight from cosmic dust in the plane of the ecliptic; visible just before sunrise and just after sunset
the apparent displacement of an object as seen from two different points that are not on a line with the object
Tyndall effect
the phenomenon in which light is scattered by very small particles in its path; it makes a beam of light visible; the scattered light is mainly blue
Type of:
natural phenomenon
all phenomena that are not artificial

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.