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Need help with physics symbols in question

  1. Aug 26, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    I'm taking an online physics course and I do not understand what the symbols mean in the question.

    The question is: Which of the following is a shorthand way of stating that "the temperature change of a substance is directly propertional to the quantity of heat added"?

    A. Q ¡Ø m
    B. m ¡Ø Tf - Ti
    C. Q ¡Ø T
    D. Q = Tf - Ti

    I know that Q means heat. I'm guessing that Tf is final temp and Ti is initial temp. I also know that m is for mass. However I have no idea what ¡Ø means.

    2. Relevant equations

    My text book does not use this ¡Ø symbol and I have searched online but I can't figure out what it is. Can anyone tell me what ¡Ø means?

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I think the answer is C and if I can't get any help here I'm going to choose that answer.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 26, 2008 #2


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    Do you mean: [itex]\propto[/itex] ?
    That symbol means: proportional to.

    For example, instead of writing: "The formula for y is [itex]y = k x^2[/itex] with k some constant" physicists tend to say "y is proportional to the square of x", or "[itex]y \propto x^2[/itex]". They just do it to indicate the shape of the function, without going into details about precise (often numerical) prefactors and shifts.

    For example, [itex]3 (x - a)^2 + 16 \pi[/itex] is also proportional to [itex]x^2[/itex].
  4. Aug 26, 2008 #3
    Yeah I am familiar with the proportional to symbol but on the work sheet it gives this ¡Ø
    It might be an error. In this case I think c makes the most sense. I think answer c means temp change is directly proportional to the quantity of heat added.
  5. Aug 26, 2008 #4


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    If it really says that, it must be an error. Probably it was copy/pasted from another document and the proportionality symbol wasn't copied correctly.

    Anyway, why did you discard B?
  6. Aug 26, 2008 #5
    The reason why I discarded B is because it has mass in the formula and it doesn't have the Q for heat.

    BTW I really appreciate your help. Thanks :-)
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2008
  7. Aug 26, 2008 #6


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    Ah, :rofl: I missed that. I just thought the Tf - Ti looked very tempting. But of course, proportionality to T also means proportionality to (T - T0) :smile:

    You are most welcome.
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