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 is the exact gravitational force between two masses including relativistic effects?

I was wondering if there is a closed-form formula for the force between two masses $m_1$ and $m_2$ if relativistic effects are included. My understanding is that the classic formula $G \frac{m_1 ...
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Is spacetime flat inside a spherical shell?

In a perfectly symmetrical spherical hollow shell, there is a null net gravitational force according to Newton, since in his theory the force is exactly inversely proportional to the square of the ...
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No hair theorem for black holes and the baryon number

The no hair theorem says that a black hole can be characterized by a small number of parameters that are visible from distance - mass, angular momentum and electric charge. For me it is puzzling why ...
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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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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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A Theorem Due to Hodge: Hawking/Ellis

This is probably quite an obscure question but hopefully somebody has a simple answer. I'm studying the proof of the topology theorem on black holes due to Hawking and Ellis (Proposition 9.3.2, p. 335 ...
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551 views

Can the Hubble constant be measured locally?

The Hubble constant, which roughly gauges the extent to which space is being stretched, can be determined from astronomical measurements of galactic velocities (via redshifts) and positions (via ...
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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 “special” and what is “general” in Relativity?

Initially I thought in special relativity the velocity was constant, whereas general relativity allowed treatment of accelerated frames as well. But now I have heard that SR is only valid locally?
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What is meant when it is said that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic?

It is sometimes said that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic. What is meant by each of these descriptions? Are they mutually exclusive, or does one require the other? And what implications rise ...
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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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956 views

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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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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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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965 views

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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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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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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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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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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379 views

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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225 views

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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Do intergalactic magnetic fields imply an Open Universe?

According to a paper on the arXiv (now published in Phys Rev D), they do. How credible is this result? The abstract says: The detection of magnetic fields at high redshifts, and in empty ...
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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 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 there a maximum possible acceleration?

I'm thinking equivalence principle, possibilities of unbounded space-time curvature, quantum gravity ...
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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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Is simultaneity well defined in general relativity?

In special relativity for each event and reference frame we can find a plane of simultaneous events. I wonder is it possible to do the same in general case in curved space? Is simultaneity even ...
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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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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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660 views

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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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 ...
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The problem of self-force on point charges

Allow me to preface this by stating that I am a high school student interested in physics and self-studying using a variety of resources, both on- and off-line, primarily GSU's HyperPhysics website, ...
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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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Definition of stress at the microscale

Take, for simplicity, a Lennard-Jones fluid below the critical temperature, which is to say that there is a phase separation into fluid and gas and thus an interface is formed. The macroscale picture ...
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Gravitational collapse of a photon cloud

The Schwarzschild solution shows that a spherically symmetric, static fluid will undergo gravitational collapse if too much mass-energy is concentrated together (i.e. if the fluid's radius is less ...
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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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Is dark matter repulsive to dark matter? Why?

I think I saw in a video that if dark matter wasn't repulsive to dark matter, it would have formed dense massive objects or even black holes which we should have detected. So, could dark matter be ...
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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 ...