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

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37
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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 ...
17
votes
7answers
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 ...
54
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6answers
3k 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 ...
22
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4answers
3k 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
638 views

Geodesics equations via variational principle

I would like to recover the (timelike) geodesics equations via the variational principle of the following action: $$ \mathcal{S}[x] = -m \int d\tau = -m \int \sqrt{-g_{\mu\nu}\,dx^{\mu}\,dx^{\nu}} $$ ...
20
votes
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 ...
29
votes
4answers
8k 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: Are matrices and second rank tensors ...
69
votes
5answers
14k 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" ...
23
votes
4answers
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 ...
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 ...
16
votes
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 ...
4
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4answers
234 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 $\mathbb{R} \to M$, ...
12
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2answers
693 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 ...
20
votes
7answers
9k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
381 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
766 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
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 ...
10
votes
1answer
425 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
727 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} ...
6
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
172 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
851 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 ...
2
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3answers
2k 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?
11
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3answers
1k 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
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Book covering 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
628 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?
6
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3answers
1k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
591 views

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

Let's consider the psuedosphere/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 ...
9
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
607 views

Geodesic equation from Euler - Lagrange

There are several ways to derive the geodesic equation. One of which is the variational method which I seemed to understand it because it was written in great details. Then it was mentioned that the ...
4
votes
1answer
273 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
803 views

Covariant and contravariant vectors

Reading Weinberg's Gravitation and Cosmology, I came across the sentence (p.115, above equation (4.11.8)) The partial derivative operator $\partial/\partial x^\mu$ is a covariant vector, or in ...
7
votes
2answers
513 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
431 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
901 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
134 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
votes
1answer
143 views

From Euler-Lagrange equation to non affine geodesic equation

I have some problems to demonstrate the non affine geodesic equation from Euler-Lagrange's equations. I start defining the Lagrangian $L=\sqrt f$, but then I'm not able to find the Christoffel ...
1
vote
1answer
134 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
246 views

How to calculate spatial distance in space-time?

Pinning two test particles at two different points in space, how can I calculate their spatial distance, when the geometry is given by the Schwarzschild metric? Let's say particle 1 is pinned at ...
40
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
25
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_{\ ...
15
votes
2answers
423 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, ...
12
votes
4answers
238 views

Difference between matrix representations of tensors and $\delta^{i}_{j}$ and $\delta_{ij}$?

My question basically is, is Kronecker delta $\delta_{ij}$ or $\delta^{i}_{j}$. Many tensor calculus books (including the one which I use) state it to be the latter, whereas I have also read many ...
11
votes
1answer
524 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
6answers
802 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
213 views

Susy QM and Atiyah-Singer index theorem

Consider maps $t\mapsto x^i(t)$ from circle to some Riemannian (spin) manifold and lagrangian $$ \mathcal L = \frac12 g_{ij}(x) \partial_t x^i \partial_t x^j + \frac12 g_{ij} \psi^j \left(\delta^i_k ...
13
votes
4answers
390 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 ...