Use this for questions pertaining to curvature of manifolds. Does not need to be specific to general relativity, but also for curvature of e.g. a [tag:calabi-yau] manifold.

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Why would spacetime curvature cause gravity?

It is fine to say that for an object flying past a massive object, the spacetime is curved by the massive object, and so the object flying past follows the curved path of the geodesic, so it "appears" ...
44
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10answers
28k views

How exactly does curved space-time describe the force of gravity?

I understand that people explain (in layman's terms at least) that the presence of mass "warps" space-time geometry, and this causes gravity. I have also of course heard the analogy of a blanket or ...
33
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4answers
4k views

Why does a flat universe imply an infinite universe?

This article claims that because the universe appears to be flat, it must be infinite. I've heard this idea mentioned in a few other places, but they never explain the reasoning at all.
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4answers
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What is the physical meaning of the connection and the curvature tensor?

Regarding general relativity: What is the physical meaning of the Christoffel symbol ($\Gamma^i_{\ jk}$)? What are the (preferably physical) differences between the Riemann curvature tensor ($R^i_{\ ...
29
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3answers
3k views

Why is spacetime curved by mass but not charge?

It is written everywhere that gravity is curvature of spacetime caused by the mass of the objects or something to the same effect. This raises a question with me: why isn't spacetime curved due to ...
28
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7answers
15k views

Laplace operator's interpretation

What is your interpretation of Laplace operator? When evaluating Laplacian of some scalar field at a given point one can get a value. What does this value tell us about the field or it's behaviour in ...
22
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2answers
1k views

Why does dark energy produce positive space-time curvature?

My understanding is that dark energy, or equivalently a positive cosmological constant, is accelerating the expansion of the universe and I have read that this gives empty space-time positive ...
20
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5answers
3k views

Does the curvature of spacetime theory assume gravity?

Whenever I read about the curvature of spacetime as an explanation for gravity, I see pictures of a sheet (spacetime) with various masses indenting the sheet to form "gravity wells." Objects which are ...
18
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2answers
1k views

Is spacetime flat inside a spherical shell?

In a perfectly symmetrical spherical hollow shell, there is a null net gravitational force according to Newton, since in his theory the force is exactly inversely proportional to the square of the ...
14
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3answers
419 views

Is the flatness of space a measure of entropy?

This is a bit quirky: For a very long time I've found Stephen Hawking's evaporating small black holes a lot more reasonable and intuitive than large black holes. The main reason is that gravity is ...
13
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1answer
572 views

What are the local covariant tensors one can form from the metric?

Normally in differential geometry, we assume that the only way to produce a tensorial quantity by differentiation is to (1) start with a tensor, and then (2) apply a covariant derivative (not a plain ...
12
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3answers
1k views

How does gravity truly work? [duplicate]

I Am only 12 years old and I'm constantly wondering and trying understand how gravity really works. On YouTube everyone always talks about objects wrapping space time around themselves and uses the ...
11
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1answer
2k views

What is the stress energy tensor?

I'm trying to understand the Einstein Field equation equipped only with training in Riemannian geometry. My question is very simple although I cant extract the answer from the wikipedia page: Is the ...
10
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5answers
3k views

Naive visualization of space-time curvature

With only a limited knowledge of general relativity, I usually explain space-time curvature (to myself and others) thus: "If you throw a ball, it will move along a parabola. Initially its vertical ...
10
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5answers
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How does “curved space” explain gravitational attraction? [duplicate]

They say that gravity is technically not a real force and that it's caused by objects traveling a straight path through curved space, and that space becomes curved by mass, giving the illusion of a ...
10
votes
3answers
705 views

Why do the Einstein field equations (EFE) involve the Ricci curvature tensor instead of Riemann curvature tensor?

I am just starting to learn general relativity. I don't understand why we use the Ricci curvature tensor. I thought the Riemann curvature tensor contains "more information" about the curvature. Why is ...
10
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2answers
529 views

How can a point-like particle “feel” gravity, if locally the curvature of spacetime is always flat?

I imagine a point-like particle can only experience the local properties of spacetime. But locally there is no curvature and no gravity, as it is often stated that Locally, as expressed in the ...
8
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3answers
5k views

Radius of curvature

I have come across a question that asked me to find the radius of curvature of a projectile. As far as I know, the path of a projectile is a parabola and I have found mention of the radius of ...
8
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2answers
1k views

Does space curvature automatically imply extra dimensions?

Total newbie with basically no physics knowledge here :) I would welcome any correction to the steps of my reasoning that lead to my question, which could easily turn out to be invalid :) My current ...
8
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4answers
883 views

How do you tell if a metric is curved?

I was reading up on the Kerr metric (from Sean Carroll's book) and something that he said confused me. To start with, the Kerr metric is pretty messy, but importantly, it contains two constants - ...
8
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1answer
586 views

Maxwell's equations in curved spacetime

I know that we can write Maxwell's equations in the covariant form, and this covariant form can be considered as a generalization of these equations in curved spacetime if we replace ordinary ...
8
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5answers
682 views

How can I vizualize and understand curved spaces in general relativity?

I'm taking a basic physics class and the teacher described space with a special table that has curves and black holes etc. He would throw a metal ball down onto it and the class would watch it circle ...
8
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2answers
979 views

What is the geometrical interpretation of Ricci tensor?

In differential geometry and general relativity space is said to be flat if the Riemann tensor $R=0$. If the Ricci tensor on manifold $M$ is zero, it doesn't mean that the manifold itself is flat. So ...
8
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1answer
159 views

The curvature of the space of commuting hermitian matrices

This is a question that I asked in the mathematics section, but I believe it may get more attention here. I am working on a project dedicated to the quantisation of commuting matrix models. In the ...
7
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7answers
2k views

Physical meaning of non-trivial solutions of vacuum Einstein's field equations

According to Einstein, the space-time is curved and the origin of the curvature is the presence of matter i.e. the presence of the energy-momentum tensor $T_{ab}$ in Einstein's field equations. If our ...
7
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5answers
4k views

How to measure the curvature of the space-time?

I know G.R. change our vision of space and time as a unique surface than can bend. We can associate the curvature of the space-time as the gravity created by the mass of planets, stars... But how can ...
7
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6answers
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Gravitation is not force?

Einstein said that gravity can be looked at as curvature in space- time and not as a force that is acting between bodies. (Actually what Einstein said was that gravity was curvature in space-time and ...
7
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1answer
830 views

Difference between $\partial$ and $\nabla$ in general relativity

I read a lot in Road to Reality, so I think I might use some general relativity terms where I should only special ones. In our lectures we just had $\partial_\mu$ which would have the plain partial ...
7
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1answer
558 views

Hodge star operator on curvature?

I've a question regarding the Hodge star operator. I'm completely new to the notion of exterior derivatives and wedge products. I had to teach it to myself over the past couple of days, so I hope my ...
7
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2answers
3k views

What does it mean for objects to follow the curvature of space?

In science documentaries that touch on general relativity, it is often said that gravitational pull isn't an actual a pull (as described by classical physics), but rather one body travelling in a ...
7
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1answer
584 views

Ж (“zhe”) in string theory?

I was just recently watching a TED talk about string theory, by Thad Roberts, and at around 11:10 into the video he mentions a constant for maximum spacial curvature called "zhe" (the Cyrillic symbol ...
7
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1answer
290 views

Curvature of the Universe imaginary?

If the curvature of the universe is zero, then $$Ω = 1$$ and the Pythagorean Theorem is correct. If instead $$Ω> 1$$ there will be a positive curvature, and if $$Ω <1$$ there will be a negative ...
7
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2answers
292 views

How warped spacetime bends trajectories of light and moving objects?

I fail to see why the light follows something like the blue line and not the green line on the attached image. Figure 1 - light bends around warped spacetime Afaik. something similar happens ...
7
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0answers
154 views

gravitational convergence of light

light has a non-zero energy-stress tensor, so a flux of radiation will slightly affect curvature of spacetime Question: assume a flux of radiation in the $z$ direction, in flat Minkowski space it ...
6
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4answers
1k views

The Sun as a gravitational lens

Since the Sun is a gravitational lens with as focal length of 550 AU for visible light, with an immense amplification factor, shouldn't it light up objects hanging out there? We should get solar ...
6
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7answers
2k views

Surely space-time Curvature does not explain gravity, it just describe its effects?

In special relativity co-moving objects see the other's 4-velocity as being only temporal. When they move relative to each other they see the other's 4-velocity has rotated so that it points less in ...
6
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3answers
982 views

Why Can We Observe Space Curvature / Warping At All?

I don't understand why we are able to see and measure curvature / warping of space at all. Space as I understand it determines distances between objects, so if space were "compressed" or warped, ...
6
votes
3answers
614 views

In the static spacetime, the extrinsic curvature of hypersurface $t=constant$ is zero

How can I prove that in the static spacetime, the extrinsic curvature of hypersurface $t=constant$ is zero? My efforts all are failed. Any hint would be greatly appreciated.
6
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2answers
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What's the idea behind the Riemann curvature tensor?

The Riemann curvature tensor can be expressed using the Christoffel symbols like this: $R^m{}_{jkl} = \partial_k\Gamma^m{}_{lj} - \partial_l\Gamma^m{}_{kj} + \Gamma^m{}_{ki}\Gamma^i{}_{lj} ...
6
votes
1answer
717 views

Deriving the transformation under Weyl rescaling in Polchinski eq. (1.2.31)

I have another question in Polchinski's string theory book volume 1, namely how to derive Eq. (1.2.32)? $$(-\gamma')^{1/2} R'=(-\gamma)^{1/2} (R-2 \nabla^2 \omega) \tag{1.2.32}$$ I have awared his ...
6
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1answer
205 views

Resultant curvature tensor from the Casimir Effect

I've often seen the Casimir effect cited as a source of negative energy/exotic matter with regards to ideas like the Alcubierre drive. The articles then go on to note that the energy required by the ...
6
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3answers
266 views

Why does the FLRW metric assume constant curvature?

So the FLRW metric takes the following form in reduced-circumference polar coordinates. $$\mathrm ds^2 = -c^2 \mathrm dt^2 + a^2(t) \left(\frac{\mathrm dr^2}{1 - k\, r^2} + r^2 (\mathrm ...
5
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5answers
1k views

How does the curvature of spacetime induce gravitational attraction?

I don't know how to ask this more clearly than in the title.
5
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1answer
716 views

Gravity is curved geometry: A fact of nature or model-dependent interpretation?

We are regularly taught in high-schools and universities that, according to General Relativity (GR), gravity is nothing but a manifestation of space-time curvature (which, in its turn, is caused by ...
5
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4answers
3k views

Does a moving object curve space-time as its velocity increases?

We always hear how gravity bends space-time; why shouldn't velocity? Consider a spaceship traveling through space at a reasonable fraction of the speed of light. If this spaceship, according to ...
5
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3answers
1k views

Where do I start with Non-Euclidean Geometry?

I've been trying to grok General Relativity for a while now, and I've been having some trouble. Many physics textbooks gloss over the subject with an "it's too advanced for this medium", and many ...
5
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3answers
446 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
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2answers
488 views

Space-time geometry and metric

I am confused in one question in general relativity, why we can always express a space-time geometry only by metric. It means a metric, which is just about distance in tangent space, can tell us all ...
5
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2answers
459 views

What made Einstein think that gravity was caused by the curvature of spacetime?

What observation/thought experiment led him to think this?
5
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2answers
490 views

Better explanation of the common general relativity illustration (stretched sheet of fabric)

I've seen many science popularisation documentaries and read few books (obviously not being scientist myself). I am able to process and understand basic ideas behind most of these. However for general ...