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

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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 ...
25
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7answers
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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 ...
8
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6answers
1k 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 ...
16
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7answers
2k views

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 ...
9
votes
2answers
521 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 ...
12
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3answers
591 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 ...
8
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3answers
1k 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 ...
6
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1answer
887 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 ...
17
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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: 1-Are matrices and second rank tensors ...
12
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3answers
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Why do objects follow geodesics in spacetime?

Trying to teach myself general relativity. I sort of understand the derivation of the geodesic equation ...
7
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2answers
219 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 ...
8
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3answers
379 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} ...
18
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6answers
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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 ...
4
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3answers
930 views

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 ...
8
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6answers
483 views

In coordinate-free relativity, how do we define a vector?

Relativity can be developed without coordinates: Laurent 1994 (SR), Winitzski 2007 (GR). I would normally define a vector by its transformation properties: it's something whose components change ...
6
votes
2answers
243 views

Parallel Transport of a 4-vector

Why does the parallel transported $4$-vector change from $X^a(x)$ to $X^a(x) + \bar{\delta}X^a(x)$ ? This is also discussed in D'Inverno's relativity book [page - 72]; but the reason is not clear.
4
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1answer
112 views

Computing Curvature via Cartan Formalism

Given a metric $g_{\mu \nu}$, one can select an orthonormal basis $\omega^{\hat{a}}$ such that, $$ds^2= \omega^{\hat{t}}\otimes\omega^{\hat{t}} - \omega^{\hat{x}} \otimes \omega^{\hat{x}} - ...$$ By ...
9
votes
1answer
298 views

Contracting Indices

Does anyone know how to get from (1) to (2) in the system $$ \begin{align} \mathrm{g}^{\mu\nu}_{,\rho}+ \mathrm{g}^{\sigma\nu}{{\Gamma}}^{\mu}_{\sigma\rho}+ ...
4
votes
2answers
208 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 ...
1
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3answers
230 views

Where 2 comes from in formula for Schwarzschild radius?

In general theory of relativity I've seen several times this factor: $$(1-\frac{2GM}{rc^2}),$$ e.g. in the Schwarzschild metric for a black hole, but I still don't know in this factor where 2 comes ...
51
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4answers
5k views

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" ...
27
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2answers
831 views

Intuitively, why are bundles so important in Physics?

This question probably seems silly and I don't really know if it fits properly here, but the point is the following: I've seem the notion of bundles, fiber bundles, connections on bundles and so on ...
20
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4answers
3k 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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4answers
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Physical and Geometrical interpretation of Differential Forms

I have a doubt about the physical and geometrical interpretation of differential forms. I've been studying differential forms on Spivak's Calculus on Manifolds, but my real intent is to use those ...
11
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1answer
477 views

Formulation of Transformation optics using a Material Manifold

Dear Community, recently, Transformation optics celebrates some sort of scientific revival due to its (possible) applications for cloaking, see e.g. Broadband Invisibility by Non-Euclidean Cloaking ...
7
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1answer
182 views

Are identity types interpreted physically in an infinity-topos formulation of equations of motion?

In reference to Urs Schreibers paper/book on foundations of field theory Differential cohomology in a cohesive infinity-topos I wonder: are identity types there used "only" for the computations, or ...
7
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3answers
661 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 ...
7
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7answers
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Introduction to differential forms in thermodynamics

I've studied differential geometry just enough to be confident with differential forms. Now I want to see application of this formalism in thermodynamics. I'm looking for a small reference, to learn ...
7
votes
2answers
558 views

Lorentz invariance of the 3 + 1 decomposition of spacetime

Why is allowed decompose the spacetime metric into a spatial part + temporal part like this for example $$ds^2 ~=~ (-N^2 + N_aN^a)dt^2 + 2N_adtdx^a + q_{ab}dx^adx^b$$ ($N$ is called lapse, $N_a$ is ...
9
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1answer
412 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 ...
6
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5answers
1k 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 ...
10
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2answers
416 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 ...
9
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3answers
2k views

Why is the covariant derivative of the metric tensor zero?

I've consulted several books for the explanation of why $$\nabla _{\mu}g_{\alpha \beta} = 0,$$ and hence derive the relation between metric tensor and affine connection $\Gamma ^{\sigma}_{\mu ...
7
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3answers
320 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?
13
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4answers
285 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
170 views

What happens if the holonomy group lies in $SU(2)$ for a CY 3-fold?

I am a mathematician and reading a physics paper about the holonomy group of Calabi-Yau 3-folds. In that paper, a Calabi-Yau 3-fold $X$ is defined as a compact 3-dimensional complex manifold with ...
5
votes
1answer
454 views

Fourier Transform on a Riemannian Manifold

The question is quite simple: What would be the definition of Fourier Transform (and it's inverse) on a Riemannian Manifold? I've found that a similar question has been asked at Mathematics.SE but ...
4
votes
6answers
399 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
230 views

What are some mechanics examples with a globally non-generic symplecic structure?

In the framework of statistical mechanics, in books and lectures when the fundamentals are stated, i.e. phase space, Hamiltons equation, the density etc., phase space seems usually be assumed to be ...
11
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4answers
354 views

Discontinuities and nondifferentiability in thermodynamics

In physics and engineering sources, calculus-based formalisms - whether differential forms on a manifold, or "differentials" of functions of several variables - are presented as a way of modeling and ...
8
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2answers
723 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 ...
7
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3answers
585 views

Covariant and contravariant vectors

Reading Weinberg's "gravitation and cosmology" I came across the sentence "The partial derivative operator $\partial/\partial x^\mu$ is a covariant vector, or in other words a 1-form,..." (p.115, ...
6
votes
2answers
292 views

How to show that every Killing vector field is a matter collineation?

Various texts make this claim, but no proof is given. Explicitly, let $L$ denote the Lie derivative. Suppose $L_X g_{ab} = 0$ for some vector field $X$, called a Killing vector field. Suppose that ...
6
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1answer
299 views

What is the information geometry of 1D Ising model for a complex magnetic field?

Consider the one-dimensional Ising model with constant magnetic field and node-dependent interaction on a finite lattice, given by $$H(\sigma) = -\sum_{i = 1}^N J_i\sigma_i\sigma_{i + 1} - h\sum_{i = ...
6
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1answer
282 views

Is GR vacuum equation unique?

The title question would be too long if I tried to specify it clearly. So let me be more clear. Consider the class of theories having the following properties: The langrangian density is only ...
5
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1answer
240 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
567 views

Does spacetime in general relativity contain holes?

Are there physical models of spacetimes, which have bounded (four dimensional) holes in them? And do the Einstein equations give restrictions to such phenomena? Here by holes I mean ...
3
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1answer
345 views

Lie derivative of Riemann tensor along killing vector ( = 0 )

I'm currently learning the mathematical framework for General Relativity, and I'm trying to prove that the Lie derivative of the Riemann curvature tensor is zero along a killing vector. With the ...
3
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1answer
118 views

Index raising and lowering - how does it work?

In the context of four-dimensional spacetime, how does the metric turn a tangent vector into a gradient, and vice versa? By this I mean that I know the metric can be used to raise and lower indices: ...
3
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4answers
322 views

Formulation of general relativity

EDIT: I think I can pinpoint my confusion a bit better. Here comes my updated question (I'm not sure what the standard way of doing things is - please let me know if I should delete the old version). ...