Mathematical discipline which uses the techniques of calculus to study geometric problems. General relativity is written in this language.

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44
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Why are differential equations for fields in physics of order two?

What is the reason for the observation that across the board fields in physics are generally governed by second order (partial) differential equations? If someone on the street would flat out ask ...
20
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6answers
6k views

What is a tensor?

I have a pretty good knowledge of physics but couldn't understand what a tensor is. I just couldn't understand it, and the wiki page is very hard to understand as well. Can someone refer me to a good ...
70
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6answers
4k views

What is known about the topological structure of spacetime?

General relativity says that spacetime is a Lorentzian 4-manifold $M$ whose metric satisfies Einstein's field equations. I have two questions: What topological restrictions do Einstein's equations ...
20
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6answers
2k 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 ...
30
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3answers
5k views

Mathematically-oriented Treatment of General Relativity

Can someone suggest a textbook that treats general relativity from a rigorous mathematical perspective? Ideally, such a book would Prove all theorems used. Use modern "mathematical notation" as ...
91
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5answers
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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" ...
31
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8answers
5k views

Classical mechanics without coordinates book

I am a graduate student in mathematics who would like to learn some classical mechanics. However, there is one caveat: I am not interested in the standard coordinate approach. I can't help but think ...
8
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3answers
1k views

Geometric interpretation of Electromagnetism

For gravity, we have General Relativity, which is a geometric theory for gravitation. Is there a similar analog for Electromagnetism?
5
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2answers
1k views

Geodesics equations via variational principle

I would like to recover the (timelike) geodesics equations via the variational principle of the following action: $$ \mathcal{S}[x] = -m \int d\tau = -m \int \sqrt{-g_{\mu\nu}\,dx^{\mu}\,dx^{\nu}} $$ ...
34
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4answers
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Are matrices and second rank tensors the same thing?

Tensors are mathematical objects that are needed in physics to define certain quantities. I have a couple of questions regarding them that need to be clarified: Are matrices and second rank tensors ...
5
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1answer
415 views

Does magnetic monopole violate $U(1)$ gauge symmetry?

Does a magnetic monopole violate $U(1)$ gauge symmetry? In what sense and why? Insofar as I know, there are at least two types of magnetic monopoles. One is the Dirac monopole while the other is the ...
4
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4answers
576 views

Geodesic Equation from variation: Is the squared lagrangian equivalent?

It is well known that geodesics on some manifold $M$, covered by some coordinates ${x_\mu}$, say with a Riemannian metric can be obtained by an action principle . Let $C$ be curve $\mathbb{R} \to M$, ...
4
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3answers
585 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 ...
23
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7answers
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Quantum mechanics on a manifold

In quantum mechanics the state of a free particle in three dimensional space is $L^2(\mathbb R^3)$, more accurately the projective space of that Hilbert space. Here I am ignoring internal degrees of ...
11
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1answer
832 views

Spacetime Torsion, the Spin tensor, and intrinsic spin in Einstein-Cartan theory

In Einstein-Cartan gravity, the action is the usual Einstein-Hilbert action but now the Torsion tensor is allowed to vary as well (in usual GR, it is just set to zero). Variation with respect to the ...
16
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3answers
1k views

Representing forces as one-forms

First of all, sorry if any of those things are silly or nonsense, I'm just trying to understand better how the concepts of forms, exterior derivative and so on can be used in physics. This question ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Book covering differential geometry and topology required for physics and applications

I am a physics undergrad, and interested to learn Topology so far as it has use in Physics. Currently I am trying to study Topological solitons but bogged down by some topological concepts. I am not ...
13
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2answers
839 views

Is spacetime simply connected?

As I've stated in a prior question of mine, I am a mathematician with very little knowledge of Physics, and I ask here things I'm curious about/things that will help me learn. This falls into the ...
28
votes
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 ...
29
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4answers
2k views

Is topology of universe observable?

There is an idea that the geometry of physical space is not observable(i.e. it can't be fixed by mere observation). It was introduced by H. Poincare. In brief it says that we can formulate our ...
19
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3answers
3k views

Why do objects follow geodesics in spacetime?

Trying to teach myself general relativity. I sort of understand the derivation of the geodesic equation ...
9
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5answers
2k views

What does symplecticity imply?

Symplectic systems are a common object of studies in classical physics and nonlinearity sciences. At first I assumed it was just another way of saying Hamiltonian, but I also heard it in the context ...
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 ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

Explicit Variation of Gibbons-Hawking-York Boundary Term

Are there any references that present the explicit variation of the Hilbert-Einstein action plus the Hawking-Gibbons-York boundary term, and demonstrate the cancellation of the normal derivatives of ...
1
vote
1answer
246 views

Has a metric formulation of electromagnetism ever been attempted? [duplicate]

I understand that electromagnetic fields carry energy, and this energy curves spacetime gravitationally. That's not my question. I'm asking if anyone has tried to formulate electromagnetism in such ...
3
votes
1answer
179 views

Local translations in curved spacetime

A global Poincare transformation on a scalar field induces $$\delta(a, \lambda)\phi(x) = [a^{\mu}+\lambda^{\mu\nu}x_{\nu}]\partial_{\mu}\phi(x). \tag{11.46}$$ In curved spacetime we replace $a^{\mu} ...
30
votes
4answers
7k views

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_{\ ...
19
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2answers
707 views

Global Properties of Spacetime Manifolds

When solving the Einstein field equations, $$R_{\mu\nu}-\frac{1}{2}g_{\mu\nu}R = 8\pi GT_{\mu\nu}$$ for a particular stress-energy tensor, we obtain the metric of the spacetime manifold, ...
23
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4answers
1k views

The Lagrangian as a metric

My question is, can the (classical) Lagrangian be thought of as a metric? That is, is there a meaningful sense in which we can think of the least-action path from the initial to the final ...
9
votes
2answers
486 views

Forces as One-Forms and Magnetism

Well, some time ago I've asked here if we should consider representing forces by one-forms. Indeed the idea as, we work with a manifold $M$ and we represent a force by some one-form $F \in ...
14
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4answers
2k views

Can spacetime be non-orientable?

This question asks what constraints there are on the global topology of spacetime from the Einstein equations. It seems to me the quotient of any global solution can in turn be a global solution. In ...
11
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3answers
1k views

How to prove the covariant derivative cannot be written as an eigendecomposition of the partial derivative?

The Question How does one prove that Rindler's definition of the covariant derivative of a covariant vector field $\lambda_a$ as \begin{align} \lambda_{a;c} = \lambda_{a,c} - \Gamma^{b}_{\ \ ca} ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Angular deficit

If one starts with a flat piece of paper, removes a wedge, and tapes the paper together, you get a cone. The angle of the removed wedge is called the "angular deficit". Now if this is done in 3 ...
8
votes
7answers
820 views

Is there a physical interpretation of a tensor as a vector with additional qualities?

What is a tensor? has been asked before, with the most highly up-voted answer defining a tensor of rank $k$ as a vector of a tensor of rank $k-1$. But if a scalar is defined as a physical quantity ...
5
votes
6answers
279 views

In GR, why should the spacetime manifold be differentiable?

In general relativity (GR), spacetime is viewed as a differentiable manifold of dimension $D$ with a metric of Lorentzian signature $(-,+,+,...,+)$. My question is why differentiable?
4
votes
2answers
257 views

5D Ricci Curvature

As part of a hw problem for a class, we're supposed to be deriving the equivalence given in equation 2.3 of this paper http://arxiv.org/abs/1107.5563. I was wondering if there is some special ...
9
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 ...
8
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2answers
932 views

Visualizing Ricci Tensor

By definition Ricci Tensor is a Tensor formed by contracting two indices of Riemann Tensor. Riemann Tensor can be visualized in terms of a curve, a vector is moving and orientation of the initial and ...
5
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1answer
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Can anyone please explain Hawking-Penrose Singularity Theorems and geodesic incompleteness?

Can anyone please explain Hawking-Penrose Singularity Theorems and geodesic incompleteness? In easy to understand plain English please.
3
votes
2answers
793 views

Time-like Killing vector in FRW metric?

The spatially flat FRW metric in cartesian co-ordinates is given by: $$ds^2 = -dt^2 + a^2(t)(dx^2 + dy^2 + dz^2)$$ As I understand it there are Killing vectors in the $x$, $y$, $z$ directions implying ...
2
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3answers
3k views

Ricci scalar for a diagonal metric tensor

I was wondering if there is a general formula for calculating Ricci scalar for any diagonal $n\times n$ metric tensor?
5
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2answers
183 views

What is the notion of a spatial angle in general relativity?

Is there a notion of spatial angles in general relativity? Example: The world line of a photon is given by $x^{\mu}(\lambda)$. Suppose it flies into my lab where I have a mirror. I align the mirror ...
4
votes
2answers
322 views

Dimensions of strings in string theory

In the above image taken from wikipedia, at the string level the strings have been shown as some loops, the article in wikipedia says that in string theory the particles at lower level are broken ...
20
votes
1answer
371 views

What, to a physicist, are instantons and the Donaldson invariants?

I study gauge theory from a mathematical perspective. To me, one of the most fundamental ideas is the notion of an instanton on a 4-manifold. To be precise, I have a Riemannian 4-manifold and a ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

The Role of Active and Passive Diffeomorphism Invariance in GR

I'd like some clarification regarding the roles of active and passive diffeomorphism invariance in GR between these possibly conflicting sources. 1) Wald writes, after explaining that passive ...
12
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1answer
688 views

Why is it so coincident that Palatini variation of Einstein-Hilbert action will obtain an equation that connection is Levi-Civita connection?

There are two ways to do the variation of Einstein-Hilbert action. First one is Einstein formalism which takes only metric independent. After variation of action, we get the Einstein field equation. ...
15
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3answers
2k views

What is a dual / cotangent space?

Dual spaces are home to bras in quantum mechanics; cotangent spaces are home to linear maps in the tensor formalism of general relativity. After taking courses in these two subjects, I've still never ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Equivalence of definitions of ADM Mass

ADM Mass is a useful measure of a system. It is often defined (Wald 293) $$M_{ADM}=\frac{1}{16\pi} \lim_{r \to \infty} \oint_{s_r} (h_{\mu\nu,\mu}-h_{\mu\mu,\nu})N^{\nu} dA$$ Where $s_r$ is two ...
8
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3answers
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Why is the symplectic manifold version of Hamiltonian mechanics used in Newtonian mechanics?

Books such as Mathematical methods of classical mechanics describe an approach to classical (Newtonian/Galilean) mechanics where Hamiltonian mechanics turn into a theory of symplectic forms on ...
3
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2answers
794 views

Orthochronous Lorentz transformations are time-preserving and $SL(2,\mathbb{R})$

Let's consider the pseudosphere/hyperboloid in $\mathbb{R}^{1,2}$ given by $$x^2+y^2-z^2=-R^2.$$ We know that the Lorentz group $$O(1,2)=\{ A \in Mat(3,\mathbb{R}): A^tGA=G \},$$ where ...