# Naming equations

#### flatmaster

Traditionally, new equations and discoveries have been named after their discoverers. We have Snell's law, coulomb's equation, Hubbell's constant any many others. Personally, I believe this practice is detrimental to the learning process. Why don't we give these things DESCRIPTIVE NAMES? Does anyone see a time when we will stop honoring dead white aristocrats when we should be instead honoring their ideas?

#### Woland

Schrodingers equation would be known as "the change of the quantum state of a physical system in time" equation. Would get a tad confusing with all the different equations.

#### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
2018 Award
Traditionally, new equations and discoveries have been named after their discoverers. We have Snell's law, coulomb's equation, Hubbell's constant any many others. Personally, I believe this practice is detrimental to the learning process.
Do you have any evidence to back that claim? Because if you don't, this whole idea is moot.

If you look closely, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary - everyone has been taught using it witout any "detrimental" effect.

Zz.

#### flatmaster

I simply meant that we should have a better nomenclature for equations.

#### Woland

Lets take some equations: LaPlaces equation, Scroedinger's equation, Boltzmann distribution.

What nomenclature would you propose?

#### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
2018 Award
I simply meant that we should have a better nomenclature for equations.
In other words, you have no evidence for what you are claiming. This means that one can easily claim that it is false.

Since the starting premise isn't valid or doesn't exist, then what's the big reason to want to change it? And has been mentioned, try to write down a "descriptive" name for Gauss's Law, if you can, and see if it is any better.

Zz.

#### flatmaster

In other words, you have no evidence for what you are claiming. This means that one can easily claim that it is false.

Since the starting premise isn't valid or doesn't exist, then what's the big reason to want to change it? And has been mentioned, try to write down a "descriptive" name for Gauss's Law, if you can, and see if it is any better.

Zz.
Well, let's go with the "electric field flux through a surface law". It might be long winded, but every word means something. Obviously, Gauss is faster to both speak and read, but why not make an acronym of every long name for a law? The Acronym would be just as arbitrary as a name.

#### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
2018 Award
Well, let's go with the "electric field flux through a surface law". It might be long winded, but every word means something. Obviously, Gauss is faster to both speak and read, but why not make an acronym of every long name for a law? The Acronym would be just as arbitrary as a name.
What would that accomplish? And that name is also not useful, because it describes something rather vaguely and could be interpreted as something else. And what if I want the differential form of Gauss's Law? Do you give it a different description for what is essentially the SAME thing?

I've always told students a long time ago that they should never pay that much attention to the label we give things to. They are nothing more than just that, labels. There are more important things to worry about than some name we give to an equation or a theory. So don't YOU have other more important issues to worry about when studying physics? I really cannot believe that you get this annoyed by the names that have been given to these things. If you do, then you will have a very rough time if you intend to do physics or go into academia, because you'll get annoyed by a gazillion little things that will be imposed on you.

Again, labeling such names have never been an issue with regards to understanding such a thing. People from all over the world, even those with different languages, haven't had any difficulties in understanding the physics with such names. Wanting to change it just to make you happy isn't really a very good reason, is it?

Zz.

#### Brilliant!

I don't understand this thread. I understand the idea presented, but it's such a non-issue that I can't believe it's worth discussing. If anything naming an equation something non-mathematical would create a mnemonic device. If you walked around calling it the 'a-squared plus b-squared equals c-squared equation', I would think you are more likely to confuse equations.

I'd rather call it the Pythagorean Theorem, thanks.

#### Tom Mattson

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Note: No Googling was done in the writing of this post.

flatmaster said:
Snell's law,
$$n_1\sin\left(\theta_1\right)=n_2\sin\left(\theta_2\right)$$

coulomb's equation,
$$E=\frac{kq_1q_2}{r^2}$$

Hubbell's constant
H=somewhere between 70 and 80 (km/s)/Mpc.

Woland said:
Schrodingers equation
$$-\frac{\hbar^2}{2m}\nabla^2\Psi(\vec{x},t)+V(\vec{x},t)\Psi(\vec{x},t)=i\hbar\frac{\partial\Psi(\vec{x},t)}{\partial t}$$

LaPlaces equation
$$\nabla^2u=0$$

Boltzmann distribution
$$\frac{N_i}{N}=\frac{g_iexp(-E_i/k_BT)}{\sum_{i=1}^{\infty}g_iexp(-E_i/k_Bt)}$$

ZapperZ said:
the differential form of Gauss's Law
$$\nabla\cdot\vec{E}=\frac{\rho}{\epsilon_0}$$

Brilliant! said:
the Pythagorean Theorem
$$a^2+b^2=c^2$$

flatmaster said:
Traditionally, new equations and discoveries have been named after their discoverers. We have Snell's law, coulomb's equation, Hubbell's constant any many others. Personally, I believe this practice is detrimental to the learning process.
You're right, no one could possibly remember all that.

#### Jimmy Snyder

Traditionally, new equations and discoveries have been named after their discoverers. We have Snell's law, coulomb's equation, Hubbell's constant any many others. Personally, I believe this practice is detrimental to the learning process. Why don't we give these things DESCRIPTIVE NAMES? Does anyone see a time when we will stop honoring dead white aristocrats when we should be instead honoring their ideas?
No wonder I don't understand quantum field theory. All of the names are names. Make that dead white male aristocrats and you can get yourself published in next month's "Social Text". No wait, that's already been done.

Flatmaster's Law: If you haven't got a point, evoke guilt by association with white aristocrats.

#### humanino

It does help to remember the history of knowledge, which in turn helps a lot understanding how the concepts were built.

#### Redbelly98

Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
On a related note:

[soapbox]

For many years, I've felt that we should call c "Einstein's constant" and G should be known as "Newton's constant". These are arguably the two greatest physicists in history. If Boltzmann and Planck can have constants named after them, it seems Einstein and Newton deserve this honor as well. And, in each case it's a no-brainer as to which constants should be named after them.

But hey, I'm not complaining.

[/soapbox]

#### Proton Soup

what should we rename the Volt, Ampere, and Coulomb? after a while, the names become synonyms for the ideas, and the people are forgotten entirely.

#### Tom Mattson

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I'm with you about Newton, but Einstein already [URL [Broken] a constant[/url] named after him. So to name c that really would be confusing.

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Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
Darn. :-(

#### cragar

all theses guys worked had to come up with theses equations y not name them in thier honor.

#### Phrak

Traditionally, new equations and discoveries have been named after their discoverers. We have Snell's law, coulomb's equation, Hubbell's constant any many others. Personally, I believe this practice is detrimental to the learning process. Why don't we give these things DESCRIPTIVE NAMES? Does anyone see a time when we will stop honoring dead white aristocrats when we should be instead honoring their ideas?
Perhaps you would get more agreement posting here

http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message675448/pg1" [Broken]

googling "White men were created by evil scientists"

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#### Blenton

And wasnt c determined before Einstein? Im just saying if that value was determined by someone else before, it wouldn't be that fair to give Einstein precedence over it.

#### cragar

it was determined before einstien , but he was the who figured out that the speed of light is constant in all reference frames relative to the observer. which was one of the 2 postulates of special reltivity.

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