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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66
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4answers
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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" ...
30
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4answers
3k 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.
30
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10answers
16k 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 ...
25
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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 ...
20
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7answers
10k 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 ...
20
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2answers
812 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 ...
17
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6answers
2k 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 ...
14
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3answers
356 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
497 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 ...
10
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1answer
734 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 ...
9
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3answers
273 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 ...
9
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2answers
495 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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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
505 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
429 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 ...
7
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1answer
408 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
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
7
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1answer
341 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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3answers
405 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 ...
7
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1answer
245 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
474 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
139 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
967 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
6
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3answers
726 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
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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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5answers
1k views

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 ...
6
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2answers
2k 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 ...
6
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1answer
165 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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0answers
111 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 ...
5
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5answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
826 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
633 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
votes
3answers
271 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
393 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
72 views

Interpreting the Kretschmann scalar

How do you interpret the Kretschmann scalar (in general relatvity)? What can you tell from it? The Kretschmann scalar is defined as $$K = R_{abcd} R^{abcd} $$ where $R_{abcd}$ is the Riemann ...
5
votes
2answers
279 views

Exterior (covariant) derivatives and electromagnetism

I'm porting Maxwell's equations to curved spacetime and am having trouble reconciling the tensor and forms treatments. I think the problem boils down to a misunderstanding on my part concerning the ...
5
votes
2answers
81 views

Curvature of electrostatic potential is zero

Could you please expound upon this claim? I found such claim on Zangwill's Classical Electrodynamics, which states that constraint coming from Laplacian equation implies electrostatic potential has ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

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} ...
5
votes
1answer
227 views

Curvature and edge state

If the boundary of quantum hall fluid has non-constant curvature, how will it affect the edge state which is usually described in chiral Luttinger fluid?
5
votes
2answers
566 views

What is the variation of Gauss-Bonnet term a total derivative of?

What is the variation of Gauss-Bonnet term total derivative of? i.e. Variation of Gauss-Bonnet combination $= \nabla_{\mu} C^{\mu}$. What's $C^{\mu}$ in 4-dimensions?
5
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1answer
422 views

Source term of the Einstein field equation

My copy of Feynman's "Six Not-So-Easy Pieces" has an interesting introduction by Roger Penrose. In that introduction (copyright 1997 according to the copyright page), Penrose complains that Feynman's ...
5
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3answers
294 views

How/why can the cosmic background radiation measurements tell us anything about the curvature of the universe?

So I've read the Wikipedia articles on WMAP and CMB in an attempt to try to understand how scientists are able to deduce the curvature of the universe from the measurements of the CMB. The Wiki ...
5
votes
2answers
367 views

Is the curvature of spacetime invariant? Could it be characterized as the ether?

I'm writing a paper for a Philosophy of Science course about GR/SR and I'm wondering if I can (1) characterize the curvature of spacetime as invariant and (2) argue that this is what Einstein referred ...
5
votes
1answer
102 views

Metric of following spacetime and refractive index

Let's have metrics $$ ds^{2} = f(\mathbf r)dt^{2} - h(\mathbf r )\delta_{ij}dx^{i}dx^{j}. $$ Hot to show that motion of light in spacetime with this metrics is equal to motion in continuous media with ...
5
votes
2answers
93 views

Once I calculate the Riemann curvature tensor, what do I do with it?

I am considering the Schwarzschild metric. I have calculated my Christoffel symbols and am able to calculate the Riemann tensor (I think). In short, I have done a bunch of work to find this thing ...
5
votes
1answer
83 views

How is $\Omega_0 = 1$ when the characteristic “teardrop” past light cone seems to admit curvature?

Introduction: The top graphic is just one I pulled from a page describing the process of detecting cosmic curvature. The second graphic is one I drew up to illustrate my misunderstanding. My ...
5
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0answers
146 views

Euclidean black hole extrinsic curvature

I have read that the extrinsic curvature at the horizon of a euclidean black hole is zero? Does anybody know how this can be shown?
5
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0answers
206 views

Why does the overhand knot jam but the figure-8 knot doesn't?

After tensioning a rope with an overhand knot in it, it is often very hard if not impossible to untie it; a figure-8 knot, on the other hand, still releases easily. Why is that so? Most "knot and ...
4
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3answers
746 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 ...