A set of numbers used to quantify location in space.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

19
votes
6answers
1k views

Proving that interval preserving transformations are linear

In almost all proofs I've seen of the Lorentz transformations one starts on the assumption that the required transformations are linear. I'm wondering if there is a way to prove the linearity: Prove ...
10
votes
6answers
2k views

Minkowski Metric Signature

When I learned about the Minkowski Space and it's coordinates, it was explained such that the metric turns out to be $$ ds^{2} = -(cdx^{0})^{2} +(dx^{1})^{2} + (dx^{2})^{2} + (dx^{3})^{2} $$ where $ ...
4
votes
3answers
569 views

Clarifying what metric counts as flat space

In (2D) Cartesian coordinates, the Euclidean metric... $$\begin{bmatrix} 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 1 \end{bmatrix}$$ ...is flat space. If the diagonal elements are exchanged for other real numbers ...
3
votes
4answers
884 views

Why are coordinates and velocities sufficient to completely determine the state and determine the subsequent motion of a mechanical system?

I am a Physics undergraduate, so provide references with your responses. Landau & Lifshitz write in page one of their mechanics textbook: If all the co-ordinates and velocities are ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Centrifugal Force and Polar Coordinates

In Classical Mechanics, both Goldstein and Taylor (authors of different books with the same title) talk about the centrifugal force term when solving the Euler-Lagrange equation for the two body ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is light described by a null geodesic?

I'm trying to wrap my head around how geodesics describe trajectories at the moment. I get that for events to be causally connected, they must be connected by a timelike curve, so free objects must ...
4
votes
2answers
531 views

Local inertial coordinates/Fermi normal coordinates

It is said that we can introduce local inertial coordinates/Fermi normal coordinates for any timelike geodesic. But why only for timelike geodesics? What about null geodesics? Perhaps it has to do ...
1
vote
2answers
819 views

What is the physical meaning of the Eddington-Finkelstein coordinates?

What is the physical meaning of the Eddington-Finkelstein coordinates? I want to see a some physical process (experimental) that could explain the many transformations of coordinates into this ...
1
vote
1answer
4k views

In general relativity (GR), does time stop at the event horizon or in the central singularity of a black hole?

I was reading through this question on time and big bang, and @John Rennie's answer surprised me. In the immediate environment of a black hole, where does time stop ticking if one were to follow a ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

What does a frame of reference mean in terms of manifolds?

Because of my mathematical background, I've been finding it hard to relate the physics-talk I've been reading, with mathematical objects. In (say special) relativity, we have a Lorentzian manifold, ...
13
votes
3answers
984 views

Is “now” or “the present moment” properly defined in GR?

My question is about the extent to which "now" is defined in GR. In Minkowski spacetime, it's possible to define a "now" for an inertial observer by finding a spacelike 3-plane such that, in the ...
3
votes
2answers
711 views

A few questions on passive vs active Lorentz transformations

1.) How do we physically interpret an active Lorentz transformation? The passive transformation seems simple enough: you view a fixed object from the perspective of a new observer. When we actively ...
5
votes
1answer
204 views

Extent of coordinate freedom to set metric components along a spacetime path

If we describe spacetime with a Lorentzian manifold, it is always possible to choose a coordinate system such that at any particular point $x^\alpha$, the components of the metric are: $$ ...
2
votes
1answer
199 views

Black holes and Time Dilation at the horizon

What is the difference between proper time and the observer time? Whilst thinking about Black holes, when we see the Schwarzschild metric $$c^2\tau ^2 = \left ( 1 - \frac{r_{s}}{r} \right )c^2t^2 - ...
2
votes
1answer
374 views

Trajectory of a photon around a Schwarzschild black hole?

Consider a photon coming from the infinity in a unbounded orbit to a Schwarzschild black hole (Schwarzschild radius $r_{s}$) (see this for illustration). Its impact parameter is $b$ and its distance ...
4
votes
2answers
177 views

Peskin and Schroeder passive and active translation

In peskin and Schroeder's qft book, in chapter two, they're discussing Noether's theorem with respect to translations of co-ordinates. They describe and "infinitesimal" translation $x^\mu\rightarrow ...
4
votes
4answers
249 views

What makes a coordinate curved?

Bear with me while I try to explain exactly what the question is. The question Can a curvature in time (and not space) cause acceleration? is imagining a coordinate system in which the curvature is ...
3
votes
2answers
235 views

Can a curvature in time (and not space) cause acceleration?

I realize that the curvature of space-time causes acceleration (gravity). Is it possible to have a curvature only of space, or a curvature only of time? If so, would a curvature only of space, or a ...
35
votes
5answers
2k views

Why do we need coordinate-free descriptions?

I was reading a book on differential geometry in which it said that a problem early physicists such as Einstein faced was coordinates and they realized that physics does not obey man's coordinate ...
2
votes
2answers
10k views

Derive vector gradient in spherical coordinates from first principles

Trying to understand where the $\frac{1}{r sin(\theta)}$ and $1/r$ bits come in the definition of gradient. I've derived the spherical unit vectors but now I don't understand how to transform ...
11
votes
4answers
933 views

Coordinates vs. Geometries: How can we know two coordinate systems describe the same geometry?

Specifically, I'm asking this because I'm taking a class on General Relativity, and in Hartle's book Gravity, in Ch. 12, after having spent some time using Schwarzschild coordinates, we are introduced ...
3
votes
1answer
449 views

Stokes' theorem in complex coordinates (CFT)

I am studying CFT, where I encounter Stokes' theorem in complex coordinates: $$ \int_R (\partial_zv^z + \partial_{\bar{z}}v^{\bar{z}})dzd\bar{z} = i \int_{\partial R}(v^{z}d\bar{z} - v^{\bar{z}}dz). ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Coordinate Transformation of Scalar Fields in QFT

By definition scalar fields are independent of coordinate system, thus I would expect a scalar field $\psi [x]$ would not change under the transformation $x^\mu \to x^\mu + \epsilon^\mu $. Correct? ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

How to understand the definition of vector and tensor?

Physics texts like to define vector as something that transform like a vector and tensor as something that transform like a tensor, which is different from the definition in math books. I am having ...
4
votes
1answer
419 views

Non-inertial frames in Lagrangian mechanics?

Building on this Phys.SE post I am interested in how non-inertial frames can be considered in Lagrangian mechanics. My understanding is that changing the reference frame causes a transformation of the ...
2
votes
1answer
439 views

Degrees of freedom in the infinite momentum frame

Lenny Susskind explains in this video at about 40min, as an extended object (for example a relativistic string) is boosted to the infinite momentum frame (sometimes called light cone frame), it has no ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What is considered now over astronomical distances?

For the sake of discussion, let's say that Mars is exactly 5 light-minutes away and that Earth and Mars are moving with the exact same velocity so that special relativistic effects are irrelevant. ...
5
votes
3answers
606 views

How to prove a symmetric tensor is indeed a tensor?

Our professor defined a rank $(k,l)$ tensor as something that transforms like a tensor as follows: $$T^{\mu_1' \mu_2'...\mu_k'}{}_{\nu_1'\nu_2'...\nu_l'} ~=~ ...
5
votes
0answers
160 views

Is there an equivalent of Rindler coordinates for an object in centripetal motion?

Rindler coordinates are a parametrization of (a subset of) Minkowski space that are "natural" for an object experiencing constant acceleration - more specifically, an object experiencing constant ...
2
votes
1answer
122 views

Why does a system have to be holonomic?

So I'm doing some work from Taylor's mechanics book. He says for the problems in the book, we require the system to be holonomic - that is the number of generalized coordinates = number of Deg. of ...
2
votes
0answers
208 views

Free fall coordinates/Fermi (normal) coordinates

It makes sense intuitively given the equivalent principle, and I've seen many times it stated, that for a free fall (geodesic) path in an arbitrary spacetime, we can choose our coordinate system to ...
7
votes
1answer
5k views

How to calculate roll, yaw and pitch angles from 3D co-ordinates (Euler Angles)

I have digitized a video of a flying fly in a 3-dimensional space. At all instants I know the x, y, and z co-oridinates of the following points on the fly's body --- The points are my choice, and ...
6
votes
2answers
309 views

Kerr Metric in Orthogonal form

I've seen the Kerr metric usually presented in the Boyer-Lindquist coordinates where there is a cross term in the $d\phi$ and $dt$ term. I've done a good bit of searching and cannot find any ...
5
votes
1answer
535 views

6 independent Einstein field equations?

I can't understand the comment on page 409, Gravitation, by Misner, Thorne, Wheeler It follows that the ten components $G_{\alpha\beta} =8\pi T_{\alpha\beta}$ of the field equation must not ...
5
votes
3answers
445 views

A thought experiment on vision and curved spacetime

What follows is a long self-made example to deal with my conceptual issues of visualizing curved spacetime. Imagine an observer floating somewhere in space. He feels no strain on his body, ...
5
votes
3answers
352 views

Is the equivalence principle strictly fulfilled by general relativity?

The equivalence principle states The outcome of any local experiment in a freely falling laboratory is independent of the velocity of the laboratory and its location in spacetime. Any real local ...
4
votes
1answer
6k views

Force from point charge on perfect dipole

Have a point charge and a perfect dipole $\vec{p}$ a distance $r$ away. Angle between $\vec{p}$ and $\hat{r}$ is $\theta$. Want to find force on dipole. I'm having more than a little difficulty ...
3
votes
3answers
128 views

Why doesn't $\vec{E} =\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0} \int\frac{\rho \hat{r}\;dxdydz}{r^2}$ blow up at $r=0$, when $\rho$ is finite?

Electric field at $(x,y,z)$ produced by a continuous distribution of charges is given by:$$\mathbf{E}(x,y,z) =\dfrac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0} \int\dfrac{\rho(x',y',z') \mathbf{\hat{r}} ...
3
votes
2answers
131 views

Under what representation do the Christoffel symbols transform?

I often read the statement, that the Christoffel symbols aren't tensors. But then, under which representation do they transform?
3
votes
2answers
283 views

Curved space-time VS change of coordinates in Minkowski space

I'm looking for a rather intuitive explanation (or some references) of the difference between the metric of a curved space-time and the metric of non-inertial frames. Consider an inertial reference ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

The trajectory of a projectile launched from a hilltop

Here is the problem: A boy stands at the peak of a hill which slopes downward uniformly at angle $\phi$. At what angle $\theta$ from the horizontal should he throw a rock so that it has the greatest ...
3
votes
2answers
848 views

What is a Kustaanheimo-Stiefel transformation?

What is a Kustaanheimo-Stiefel transformation? Which applications has it in physics? Can you point me to a reference, where this transformation is explained?
2
votes
1answer
114 views

What is the most general definition of a coordinate system?

What is the most general definition of a coordinate system? Specificly: given a suitably general metric space $(\mathcal S, s)$ consisting of a set $\mathcal S$ of elements (for instance: a set ...
2
votes
5answers
719 views

A reference frame is any coordinate system or just a set of Cartesian axes?

In Physics the idea of a reference frame is one important idea. In many texts I've seem, a reference frame is not defined explicitly, but rather there seems to be one implicit definition that a ...
2
votes
0answers
134 views

Kleppner derivation of Lorentz transformation

I am reading Kleppner.(Lorentz transformations) He said,we take the most general transformation relating the coordinates of a given event in the two systems to be of the form $$x'=Ax +Bt, y'=y, z'=z, ...
2
votes
2answers
243 views

Momentum vector transformation

I am confused about the way momentum vector transforms in the following case: $$q_k \to q_k'= q_k + \epsilon f_k(q)$$ The Jacobian is thus $\Lambda_{ij} = \frac{\partial q'_i}{\partial q_j} \approx ...
2
votes
2answers
569 views

Does the length of the sidereal day vary systematically?

I'm confused about some properties of the sidereal day, in particular whether its duration varies systematically over the course of the year.1 It seems to me that that must be the case, but the ...
0
votes
1answer
43 views

How does angular velocity transform on the surface of a sphere?

If we consider the earth as a sphere than it will have an angular velocity of $\boldsymbol{\omega}=\omega\mathbf{e}_z=\frac{2\pi}{T}\mathbf{e}_z$ where $T\approx24h$. Now we have given a location in ...
7
votes
2answers
793 views

Is there any situation in Physics where the Right Hand Rule is not arbitrary?

We use Right Hand Rule in calculating Torque not because that's the direction torque is pointing in the real, physical world, but because it's a convenient way to indicate the "sign" of the rotation ...
4
votes
3answers
153 views

Velocity in a turning reference frame

I often see the relation that $\vec v=\vec v_0+ \vec \omega \times \vec r$ in a turning reference frame, but where does it actually come from and how do I arrive at the acceleration being $$\vec ...