A set of numbers used to quantify location in space.

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33
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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 ...
16
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 ...
12
votes
3answers
886 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
273 views

Polar Decomposition of a Complex Scalar Field

People often write a complex scalar field via polar decomposition. What does this parametrization precisely mean? To be more explicit consider the following Lagrangian of a complex scalar field with ...
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 $ ...
7
votes
2answers
643 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 ...
7
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 ...
7
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
396 views

Tensor equations in General Relativity

In the context of general relativity it is often stated that one of the main purposes of tensors is that of making equations frame-independent. Question: why is this true? I'm looking for a ...
7
votes
0answers
327 views

Understanding and deriving ellipsoidal coordinates geometrically

If one were to read old texts on mathematical physics, like Maxwell, Morse & Feshbach, Hilbert and Courant, Jacobi, etc... they'd find ellipsoidal coordinates popping up, but the authors derive ...
6
votes
3answers
217 views

From Manifold to Manifold?

Tensor equations are supposed to stay invariant in form wrt coordinate transformations where the metric is preserved. It is important to take note of the fact that invariance in form of the tensor ...
6
votes
2answers
525 views

Why isn't invariant notation common?

In principle, one can write quantities in a manifestly invariant - rather than covariant - fashion in e.g. special relativity. For example, rather than writing just $x^\mu$, we could write the basis ...
5
votes
3answers
850 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
287 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
157 views

Integral in different coordinate systems

In Griffiths' electrodynamics book, he uses the equation, $$\nabla^2\mathbf{A}=-\mu_0 \mathbf{J},$$ to state that $$\mathbf{A}(\mathbf{r}) = ...
5
votes
2answers
451 views

Lorentz transformation in light cone coordinates in string theory

What is the explicit form of the Lorentz transformation changing the light cone coordinates in the light cone gauge in string theory? The extended nature of the strings complicate matters, especially ...
5
votes
2answers
234 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
371 views

Is General Relativity applicable for all coordinate systems?

My understanding was that relativistic physics can be expressed in any inertial coordinate system, but not arbitrary systems. That is, no experiment can determine if we are "still" or "moving" at a ...
5
votes
1answer
162 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: $$ ...
5
votes
3answers
333 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
418 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
0answers
93 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
114 views

What coordinate system is used to describe planets positions in the universe?

How are planets positions described in the space and in respect to what? For example is Sun the origo and right now at this moment Earth has [coord_X, coord_Y, coord_Z]? or maybe [lng, lat]? ...
4
votes
2answers
799 views

Metric tensor in special and general relativity

I'm having trouble understanding the metric tensor in general relativity. What I've understood so far has come from my course lecture notes used in conjunction with "The Road to Reality" by Roger ...
4
votes
3answers
117 views

If a Killing vector field is timelike, can it be set to $\partial/\partial t$?

If one has a Killing vector that turned out to be a timelike Killing vector field because of negative norm. Can we set this Killing vector field equal to $\partial/\partial t$?
4
votes
1answer
570 views

Light-cone coordinates

The light-cone coordinates are defined as $$x^{\pm} ~=~\frac{x^0 \pm x^3}{\sqrt{2}}.$$ Then in the light cone coordinates the position 4-vector becomes: $(x^+, x^-, x^1, x^2)$ . Zwiebach, in his A ...
4
votes
2answers
1k 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? ...
4
votes
3answers
367 views

First Postulate of Special Relativity: What does it mean?

Wikipedia has this quote: Special principle of relativity: If a system of coordinates K is chosen so that, in relation to it, physical laws hold good in their simplest form, the same laws hold ...
4
votes
4answers
212 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
141 views

Integrating Radial Vector Fields

Given a integral $$\int_vd^3{r} \;\vec{r}\;\rho(r)$$ and How do you convert it to spherical coordinate system, noting that $\rho(r)$ is indeed as it is without vector, i.e. it is spherically symmetric ...
4
votes
1answer
124 views

Curvilinear Coordinates and basis vectors

In these notes, $\frac{\partial \vec{r}} {\partial q_i}$ is stated to form a basis set for the vector space. How does this happen? Also, how does one justify this equation from Goldstein's ...
4
votes
1answer
72 views

Invariant equations of motion under Lorentz transformations

My question regards the statement that an equation of motion may be invariant under a Lorentz transformation I just finished watching the Stanford University special relativity lectures on special ...
4
votes
3answers
419 views

Does the Relativity Principle of Special Relativity imply homogeneity and isotropy of all the reference frames?

In Rindler's book: Relativity, Special, General and Cosmological, is stated on page 40 that the Relativity Principle (RP), when applied to just one Inertial Frame (IF), guarantees the homogeneity and ...
4
votes
1answer
649 views

What do up-left orthogonality has in common with up-down and what is their relationship?

I am familiar with the true (or general) notion of orthogonality, given in the Linear Algebra and Pythagoras theorem derived from the $\vec x \cdot \vec y = 0$. I have also recently got to know that ...
4
votes
2answers
108 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
3answers
205 views

Coordinates for FLRW metric

In GR, coordinate are just a tool for us to describe the physics, they should be equivalent. However, in standard form of FLRW metric, it can be inferred that the universe is expanding, but we can do ...
4
votes
1answer
129 views

How to assign coordinates to the elements of a flat metric space

Consider the metric space $(M, d \,)$ where set $M$ contains sufficiently many (at least five) distinct elements, and consider the assignment $c_f$ of coordinates to (the elements of) set $M$, $c_f ...
4
votes
1answer
484 views

failing to see the conundrum in the Einstein hole argument

I've been reading about the Einstein hole argument, and i fail to understand what makes active diffeomorphisms "special" compared to passive diffeomorphismsm also known as good old coordinate ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Convert ECI coordinates to latitude/longitude?

I have been given output in (what I believe to be) ECI format (from OrbitTools): ...
4
votes
1answer
4k 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
1answer
256 views

Is the apparent lack of (Ricci) curvature in the Schwarzschild metric due to a choice of coordinates?

I've been lightly studying GR lately. Something that has been bothering me has been the lack of (Ricci) curvature produced from the Schwarzschild metric in the few lectures I've watched, as well as ...
3
votes
4answers
618 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
141 views

What is the motivation for the definition of a manifold?

In Wald's General Relativity, an $n$-dimensional $C^{\infty}$ manifold $\mathit{M}$ is defined as a set, with subsets $\lbrace{O}_{\alpha}\rbrace$, which satisfies 3 properties. In particular, the ...
3
votes
2answers
78 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
463 views

The wave equation in general relativity, special relativity, and Cartesian coordinates

The relativistic wave equation is $$\square\varphi=\rho$$ where $\varphi$ is the field, $\rho$ is the source, and $\square$ is the D'Alembert operator, defined by ...
3
votes
1answer
218 views

Why does the Kruskal diagram extend to all 4 quadrants?

Why is it that the Kruskal diagram is always seen extended to all 4 quadrants when the definitions of the $U,V$ coordinates don't seem to suggest that the coordinates are not defined in, say, the 3rd ...
3
votes
2answers
757 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
206 views

Cartesian Coordinates to Polar Coordinates

I apologize if this question is trivial, but I am new to physics and am struggling with some of the basic concepts. Working in $\mathbb{R}^2$ with standard coordinates $(x,y)$, suppose we have a ...
3
votes
2answers
342 views

Explanation for Negative $\rho$ (radial distance) in Cylindrical Coordinates

My question : What does it mean when we arrive at negative values for distance variables like $\rho$ in cylindrical coordinates? (after some discussion here,I revised the question, at the end of the ...
3
votes
7answers
504 views

Relation between coordinates and frames of reference

I always get a little uneasy that all the theories I can think of (at least since Newton) are constructed in a way such that they would be true in heaven and on earth ... but we can never go ...