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 ...
12
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6answers
2k 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 ...
30
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8answers
2k views

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 ...
22
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4answers
5k views

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 ...
17
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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 ...
13
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3answers
1k views

Why do objects follow geodesics in spacetime?

Trying to teach myself general relativity. I sort of understand the derivation of the geodesic equation ...
14
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6answers
815 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 ...
11
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2answers
585 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
731 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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2answers
283 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 ...
9
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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 ...
7
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1answer
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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 ...
7
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3answers
409 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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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 ...
9
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3answers
428 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} ...
5
votes
3answers
268 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
119 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 ...
2
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1answer
122 views

Can the vanishing of the Riemann tensor be determined from causal relations?

Given a Lorentzian manifold and metric tensor, "$( M, g )$", the corresponding causal relations between its elements (events) may be derived; i.e. for every pair (in general) of distinct events in set ...
19
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6answers
7k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
496 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
832 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 ...
15
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3answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
559 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
votes
6answers
586 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 ...
11
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3answers
313 views

What kind of manifold can be the phase space of a Hamiltonian system?

Of course it should have dimension $2n$. But any more conditions? For example, can a genus-2 surface be the phase space of a Hamiltonian system?
6
votes
2answers
352 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
votes
1answer
163 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
311 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}+ ...
2
votes
2answers
132 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
679 views

Is 4-volume element a scalar or a pseudoscalar in special relativity?

In general relativity 4-volume element $\mathrm{d}^4 x = \mathrm{d} x^0\mathrm{d} x^1 \mathrm{d} x^2\mathrm{d} x^3$ is clearly a pseudoscalar (or scalar density) of weight 1 since it transforms as ...
4
votes
2answers
241 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Killing vector fields

I am facing some problems in understanding what is the importance of a Killing vector field? I will be grateful if anybody provides an answer, or, refer me to some review or books.
1
vote
3answers
243 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 ...
57
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4answers
7k 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" ...
33
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
23
votes
4answers
4k 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
votes
4answers
1k views

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 ...
13
votes
2answers
299 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, ...
9
votes
1answer
554 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
219 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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7answers
1k views

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
633 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
334 views

What's the physical intuition for symplectic structures?

I always thought about symplectic forms as elements of areas in little subspaces because of the Darboux theorem, however I cannot get the physical intuition for it and for the hamiltonian vector ...
6
votes
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 ...
14
votes
4answers
408 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
3answers
3k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
126 views

Why are totally antisymmetric tensors more useful than totally symmetric tensors?

In an arbitrary number of dimensions, one can naturally define two tensors, Kronecker delta and Levi-Civita epsilon tensor. However, why isn't it advantageous to define some totally symmetric tensor ...
2
votes
1answer
150 views

Spin connection in higher dimension

I have a problem regarding computation of spin connection in the case where One or more dimension is compactified. For example if we take a $D+1$ dimensional bosonic string action and write the $D+1$ ...
12
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4answers
367 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 ...
7
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2answers
219 views

The geodesic line on Poincare half plane

I was calculating the geodesic lines on Poincare half plane but I found I somehow missed a parameter. It would be really helpful if someone could help me find out where my mistake is. My calculation ...