A theory that describes how matter interacts dynamically with the geometry of space and time. It was first published by Einstein in 1915 and is currently used to study the structure and evolution of the universe, as well as having practical applications like GPS.

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What does a frame of reference mean in terms of manifolds?

Because of my mathematical background, I've been finding it hard to relate the physics-talk I've been reading, with mathematical objects. In (say special) relativity, we have a Lorentzian manifold, ...
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What is the most compelling evidence of General Relativity in the presence of matter and energy?

The most oft-cited triumphs of GR are things such as the shifting perihelion of Mercury, gravitational redshift experiments, and gravitational lensing. But, as far as I know, these are only ...
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Energy conservation in General Relativity

I understand that energy conservation is not a rule in general relativity, but I'd like to know under what circumstances it can still be possible. In other words, when is it possible to associate a ...
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Does the Unruh effect violate Mach's principle?

Mach's principle says that it is impossible to tell if something is accelerating unless there is something else in the universe to compare that motion to, which seems reasonable. However, if you had ...
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Does GR provide a maximum electric field limit?

Does GR provide a limit to the maximum electric field? I've gotten conflicting information regarding this, and am quite confused. I will try to quote exactly when possible so as not to confuse ...
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Is the Planck length Lorentz invariant?

The planck length is defined as $l_P = \sqrt{\frac{\hbar G}{c^3}}$. So it is a combination of the constants $c, h, G$ which I believe are all Lorentz invariants. So I think the Planck length should ...
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Why can't General Relativity be written in terms of physical variables?

I am aware that the field in General Relativity (the metric, $g_{\mu\nu}$) is not completely physical, as two metrics which are related by a diffeomorphism (~ a change in coordinates) are physically ...
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Swimming in Spacetime - apparent conserved quantity violation

My question is about the article Swimming in Spacetime. My gut reaction on first reading it was "this violates conservation of momentum, doesn't it?". I now realize, however, that this doesn't allow ...
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Euclidean derivation of the black hole temperature; conical singularities

I am studying the derivation of the black hole temperature by means of the Euclidean approach, i.e. by Wick rotating, compactifying the Euclidean time and identifying the period with the inverse ...
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366 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 ...
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Newtonian gravity from the holographic principle?

Can one understand Newton's law of gravitation using the holographic principle (or does such reasoning just amount to dimensional analysis)? Following an argument similar to one given by Erik ...
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Is period of rotation relative?

My question is inspired by the following answer by voix to another problem: "There is a real object with relativistic speed of surface - millisecond pulsar. The swiftest spinning pulsar currently ...
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Why is a black hole black?

In general relativity (ignoring Hawking radiation), why is a black hole black? Why nothing, not even light, can escape from inside a black hole? To make the question simpler, say, why is a ...
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Why is spacetime not Riemannian?

I apologize if this is a naïve question. I'm a mathematician with, essentially, no upper-level physics knowledge. From the little I've read, it seems that spacetime is Lorentzian. Unfortunately, the ...
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Is there a maximum possible acceleration?

I'm thinking equivalence principle, possibilities of unbounded space-time curvature, quantum gravity ...
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Newton's Bucket

Newton's Bucket This thought experiment is originally due to Sir Isaac Newton. We have a sphere of water floating freely in an opaque box in intergalactic space, held together by surface tension and ...
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Coulomb's Law in the presence of a strong gravitational field

I was under the impression that the $1/r^2$ falloff of various forces were because of the way the area of a expanding sphere scales. But that strict $1/r^2$ falloff would only be globally true in a ...
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Why is there no dynamics in 3D general relativity?

I heard a couple of times that there is no dynamics in 3D (2+1) GR, that it's something like a topological theory. I got the argument in the 2D case (the metric is conformally flat, Einstein equations ...
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Why can't light escape from a classical black hole?

Photons do not have (rest) mass (that's why they can move at speed of "light"). So, my question is how the gravity of classical$^1$ black hole can stop light from escaping? -- $^1$ We ignore ...
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Are elementary particles ultimate fate of black holes?

From the "no hair theorem" we know that black holes have only 3 characteristic external observables, mass, electric charge and angular momentum (except the possible exceptions in the higher ...
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To which extent is general relativity a gauge theory?

In quantum mechanics, we know that a change of frame -- a gauge transform -- leaves the probability of an outcome measurement invariant (well, the square modulus of the wave-function, i.e. the ...
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Brachistochrone problem in general relativity

This question Brachistochrone Problem for Inhomogeneous Potential has the obvious extension. Namely the same question, when gravity is treated according to general relativity. To make it specific ...
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Suggested reading for quantum field theory in curved spacetime

I want to learn some QFT in curved spacetime. What papers/books/reviews can you suggest to learn this area? Are there any good books or other reference material which can help in learning about QFT ...
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How to prove that a spacetime is maximally symmetric?

In Carroll's book on general relativity, I found the following remark: In two dimensions, finding that $R$ is a constant suffices to prove that the space is maximally symmetric [...] In higher ...
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Interpretation of a singular metric

I'm interested to find out if we can say anything useful about spacetime at the singularity in the FLRW metric that occurs at $t = 0$. If I understand correctly, the FLRW spacetime is a combination ...
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Does the speed of light vary in noninertial frames?

The speed of light is the same in all inertial frames. Does it change from a non-inertial frame to another? Can it be zero? If it is not constant in non-inertial frames, is it still bounded from ...
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Lagrangian for Euler Equations in general relativity

The stress energy tensor for relativistic dust $$ T_{\mu\nu} = \rho v_\mu v_\nu $$ follows from the action $$ S_M = -\int \rho c \sqrt{v_\mu v^\mu} \sqrt{ -g } d^4 x = -\int c \sqrt{p_\mu ...
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The definition of an inertial reference frame in Einstein's relativity

I'm reading Sean Carroll's book on general relativity, and I have a question about the definition of an inertial reference frame. In the first chapter that's dedicated to special relativity, the ...
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Why are anti-de Sitter spaces so interesting when we believe the universe is expansionary?

Perhaps this is a naive question, but in my recent (admittedly limited) readings about AdS spaces, I keep wondering why they seem to be such a hotbed for theoretical research (AdS/CFT correspondence, ...
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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 ...
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How does one measure space-like geodesics? Or: What is the physical interpretation of space-like geodesics?

In general relativity, time-like geodesics are the trajectories of free-falling test particles, parametrized by proper time. Thus, they are easy to interpret in physical terms and are easy to measure ...
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Extremal black hole with no angular momentum and no electric charge

A black hole will have a temperature that is a function of the mass, the angular momentum and the electric charge. For a fixed mass, Angular momentum and electric charge are bounded by the extremality ...
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Current status of Penrose-Hawking “thunderbolts?”

I recently came across the interesting statement that most definitions of cosmic censorship (CC), and most work on proving it, don't exclude something that Hawking calls a "thunderbolt" (Penrose 1978, ...
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Does a Weak Energy Condition Violation Typically Lead to Causality Violation?

In the answer to this question: ergosphere treadmills Lubos Motl suggested a straightforward argument, based on the special theory of relativity, to argue that light passing through a strong ...
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Do intergalactic magnetic fields imply an Open Universe?

According to a recent paper on the arXiv, they do. How credible is this result? The abstract says: The detection of magnetic fields at high redshifts, and in empty intergalactic space, support ...
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Is gravity just electromagnetic attraction?

Recently, I was pondering over the thought that is most of the elementary particles have intrinsic magnetism, then can gravity be just a weaker form of electromagnetic attraction? But decided the ...
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What is the conserved quantity of a scale-invariant universe?

Consider that we have a system described by a wavefunction psi(x). We then make an exact copy of the system, and anything associated with it, (including the inner cogs and gears of the elementary ...
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Can all fundamental forces be fictitious forces?

After reading many questions, like this and this, I wonder: is it possible to consider also the other fundamental forces, the electroweak interaction and the strong interaction or ultimately the ...
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What is the weight equation through general relativity?

The gravitational force on your body, called your weight, pushes you down onto the floor. $$W=mg$$ So, what is the weight equation through general relativity?
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Is the total energy of the universe constant?

If total energy is conserved just transformed and never newly created, is there a sum of all energies that is constant? Why is it probably not that easy?
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Is “now” or “the present moment” properly defined in GR?

My question is about the extent to which "now" is defined in GR. In Minkowski spacetime, it's possible to define a "now" for an inertial observer by finding a spacelike 3-plane such that, in the ...
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Is the concept of tensor rank useful in physics?

The term 'tensor rank' is sporadically used in the mathematical literature to denote the minimum number of simple terms (i.e. tensor products of vectors) needed to express the tensor. This is ...
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Would the inside of a black hole be like a giant mirror?

As any light reflected or emitted from objects inside a black hole (if it is possible to be there) does not leave the event horizon and comes back inside, would it be like seeing yourself? What I ...
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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 ...
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Why is there a search for an exchange particle for gravity?

If I understand correctly, according to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, mass results in a distortion in space-time. In turn, the motion of the mass is affected by the distortion. A result of ...
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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 ...
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Conformal Compactification of spacetime

I have been reading Penrose's paper titled "Relativistic Symmetry Groups" where the concept of conformal compactification of a space-time is discussed. My other references have been this and this. In ...
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If two ultra-relativistic billiard balls just miss, will they still form a black hole?

This forum seems to agree that a billiard ball accellerated to ultra-relativistic speeds does not turn into a black hole. (See recent question "If a 1kg mass was accelerated close to the speed of ...
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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 ...
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Does the amount of gravitational potential energy in the universe increase as it expands?

It seems to me that extra gravitational potential energy is created as the universe expands and the distance between massive objects such as galaxy clusters increases; this implies that energy is not ...