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critical point

noun
1.
Physics. the point at which a substance in one phase, as the liquid, has the same density, pressure, and temperature as in another phase, as the gaseous.
2.
Mathematics.
  1. (of a function of a single variable) a point at which the derivative of the function is zero.
  2. (of a function of several variables) a point at which all partial derivatives of the function are zero.
Origin
1875-1880
1875-80
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for critical point
  • At the critical point he'd back out of a fuss with a dog of his own size.
  • The problem, say conservationists, is that the oceans have reached a critical point.
  • When a star's core contracts to a critical point a series of nuclear reactions is unleashed.
  • For those of us with a strong interest in human genetics the critical point is likely to be reached substantially earlier.
  • Then, as happens to all artists, came the critical point of production or non-production.
  • When population dropped to a critical point, society will have great change.
  • When those stresses reach a critical point something has to give.
  • The critical point is the interrelation of the brain and learning.
  • The critical point is that there is no limit to what could be done if it were worth someone's while to do it.
  • You'd go up there, relying on a computer, and at a critical point it would crash.
British Dictionary definitions for critical point

critical point

noun
1.
(physics)
  1. the point on a phase diagram that represents the critical state of a substance
  2. another name for critical state
2.
(maths) the US name for stationary point
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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critical point in Science
critical point  
  1. Physics The temperature and pressure at which the liquid and gaseous phases of a pure substance become unstable and fluctuate locally within the substance. The critical point of water is at a temperature of 374°C (705.2°F) and a pressure of 218 atmospheres, at which point it becomes opaque. Compare triple point.

  2. Mathematics

    1. A maximum, minimum, or point of inflection of a curve.

    2. A point at which the derivative of a function is zero, infinite, or undefined.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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